The History of Sting

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The most famous weapon in Middle-earth!

And the bluest, too! From just watching the movies, or even by reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, you find very little concerning the history of Sting. It takes a great deal of delving into the Appendices and the more obscure Tolkien texts to piece this sword's complicated history together. Thankfully, you will not have to do that. Here is a complete compilation of the history of Sting! 

Sting, the sword of Bilbo Baggins the Burglar and his nephew Frodo Baggins, is indisputably a mathom. For one, it is ancient. It was already well over 6,000 years old by the time it came to Bilbo. Second, it was forged by the elves of Gondolin during the First Age. Third, neither Bilbo nor Frodo would ever dream of throwing it away, and finally, it became practically useless after the War of the Ring.
It now being confirmed that Sting is indeed a mathom, it is possible to delve a little into its history. It has already been mentioned that it was forged by the elves. This means that it is utterly unbreakable, eternally sharp, and glows blue when orcs, the creations of Morgoth, are nearby. However, it was lost, along with the Orcrist and Glamdring, during the Fall of Gondolin. Although this is just speculation, they were most likely stolen by Scatha the Worm, a wingless dragon. Around the year 2000 in the Third Age, a man by the name of Fram slew this beast, but possession of the monster's hoard was disputed by the dwarves, who believed it rightly belonged to them. This culminated into a war between their two peoples, and the dwarves killed Fram, and took off with the treasure, including the weapons of Gondolin. This means that the weapons would have been used during the Battle of Nanduhirion, which is depicted in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It is very possible that Thorin Oakenshield, who earned his  name in that battle against the orcs of Moria, had seen Orcrist and Glamdring before, even thought no indication of that is given in either the book or the movie. Years later, during the Fell Winter of 2911, the three trolls murdered the few dwarves who had the swords in their possession, and hid the swords in their cave, where they were later found by the Company.
Most likely you know the rest of the story. Bilbo kept it for his own, and used it famously to the destruction of the spiders, the offspring of Ungoliant, in Mirkwood. After his adventures were finished, he passed it on to Frodo, who later gave it to Sam. The greatest deed of Sting, however, was its use in the battle against the chief of the children of Ungoliant, Shelob.
Another interesting fact about this blade is the inscription on the blade. It is Elvish, of the language Sindarin, in the style of writing known as Tengwar.

y]âs6]* ]â6 l*1]7 6`V6
2]s6`7 `6 IsPIj `y

Transliterated, this would be 'Maegnas aen estar nín - dagnir in yngyl im.' Of course, you do not understand this any better than the writing above. In English, it is, literally, '[the] sharp-point I am called  - [the] slayer of spiders I [am].' More poetically, it means 'Sting is my name, I am the spiders bane.' However, there is no indication of this in the book. It is impossible for it to have had this inscription before it was found by Bilbo. This is one of the errors of the movie. When Gandalf picks it up, the lettering is already inscribed. A small error, but an error nevertheless. Thankfully, it is only one of very few!

The Hobbit, 'Over Hill and Under Hill'
The Hobbit, 'Riddles in the Dark'
The Lord of the Rings, 'A Journey in the Dark'
The Lord or the Rings, Appendix A
Unfinished Tales

No comments :

Post a Comment