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How Each Of Middle-earth’s Major Races In Lord Of The Rings Was Created


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Summary

  • Eru Ilúvatar created Elves and Men in Middle-earth, giving them unique gifts and placing them in a slumber before they awakened and reproduced.
  • Hobbits are believed to have evolved from Men and possess the same mortal nature and freedom of will.
  • Dwarves were created by the Vala Aulë, but Ilúvatar gave them true life after recognizing Aulë’s love and intentions. Orcs, Trolls, Dragons, and Balrogs were corrupted versions of existing creations by Morgoth.


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Elves, Men, Hobbits, Dwarves, Orcs, and more—Middle-earth is inhabited by a variety of races, each of which has its own Lord of the Rings lore detailing how and why they were created. Of course, most of this information wasn’t included in the Lord of the Rings books and movies. Instead, the answers regarding the origin of Middle-earth and those that live there were fleshed out in Tolkien’s other works, including the posthumously published The Silmarillion.

The events of The Lord of the Rings take place during the Third Age of Middle-earth, several thousand years after the world, Arda, was created by the god Eru Ilúvatar. This deity was the only one capable of creating life in Tolkien’s universe since he possessed the Secret Flame—sometimes called the Flame of Anor or Flame Imperishable. Therefore, all living things in Middle-earth technically owe their existence to Ilúvatar. However, the god’s role in the creation of each race varies from one to the next, with evolution, as well as the work of the Valar (both good and bad), playing a part as well.

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The God Of Middle-Earth Created Elves & Men (The Children Of Ilúvatar)

An illustration of Eru Iluvatar

Elves Gifts from Ilúvatar:

Artistry, immortality, and beauty.

Man’s Gifts from Ilúvatar:

Mortality and Nuanced Freedom of Will.

Eru Ilúvatar was directly responsible for creating the Elves and Men of Middle-earth. The two beings were, therefore, called the “Children of Ilúvatar,” and each group was given a variety of unique gifts. To the Elves, his first children, Ilúvatar gave artistry, immortality, and beauty. To Men, the god’s second creation, he gave mortality (a gift because they presumably could be with Ilúvatar after death) and freedom of will over their destinies. Ilúvatar created a set number of both races and placed them into a slumber in different points of Middle-earth, where they were eventually awoken. From there, the Elves and Men were free to reproduce and evolve.

Ilúvatar seemed to favor Men a little more than Elves, but his demi-gods, the Valar, loved the Elves the most (they were more like them). Therefore, hoping to save these fair beings from the evils and dangers of Middle-earth, they invited the Elves to live in Valinor, the realm to the West that is often called the Undying Lands in The Lord of the Rings. Most took advantage of this invitation, which is why Elves like Galadriel were born in Valinor. At the end of the Third Age, all the Elves migrated to Valinor, leaving Middle-earth to the Men (precisely how Ilúvatar planned it).

Hobbits Are Believed To Have Evolved From Men In Lord Of The Rings

The Hobbits at the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Elves and Men were the only beings native to Middle-earth that Ilúvatar directly created—so where does that leave the Hobbits? Tolkien wasn’t as clear about the small folk as he had been about Elves and Men. This is because The Silmarillion is meant to have been written by Elves and Men as a sort of “found history,” and these races were largely unaware of Hobbits until the Second Age. However, it’s heavily implied that Hobbits evolved from the First Men that Ilúvatar placed in a slumber in Middle-earth, as evidenced by the Stoors Hobbits, who still resembled Men in that they were taller and could grow beards.

While some Men became ambitious, leading them to create large kingdoms and wage war, other groups headed for the hills and lived modest lives, developing a love for the simple things.

Like Men, Hobbits are mortal, and they possess the freedom of will Ilúvatar had granted his first mortal children. The idea here is that while this freedom made some Men ambitious, leading them to create large kingdoms and wage war, other groups headed for the hills and lived modest lives, developing a love for the simple things of life (like nature and food). After thousands of years, these two groups of mortals no longer looked like one another. Still, the fact that Hobbits and Men played significant parts in defeating Sauron and they both inherited Middle-earth after the fact indicates that they were descendants of Iluvatar’s favorite children.

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Dwarves Were Created By The Vala Aulë (But Iluvatar Gave Them Life)

Thorin, Durin, and Gimli from the Lord of the Rings franchise.

Though Aulë had the power to animate them, he didn’t possess the Secret Flame and couldn’t give them true life.

Like Hobbits, Dwarves are a special case when it comes to the beings of Middle-earth. Before Ilúvatar created the universe, he made the Valar, demi-gods that would help him make and run the world. Before the Elves woke from their sleep in Middle-earth, one Vala, Aulë, grew impatient. He was eager to guide the Children of Ilúvatar and, therefore, decided to make his own creatures. These were the Dwarves, and although Aulë had the power to animate them, he didn’t possess the Secret Flame and couldn’t give them true life.

What Aulë did here was technically forbidden, so he was in a bit of trouble when Ilúvatar discovered what his Vala had done. However, the deity recognized that Aulë’s creations came from a place of love (rather than a desire for the power of creation), so he breathed true life into the Dwarves, placed them into a slumber, and allowed them to wake up in Middle-earth sometime after the Elves. From then on, Ilúvatar called the Dwarves his adopted children.

Orcs, Balrogs, Trolls, & Dragons Were Created By Morgoth (Sort Of)

Ilúvatar was a purely good deity, so he couldn’t create inherently evil beings. However, as previously mentioned, he was the source of all life in Middle-earth and was, therefore, the origin of even the Orcs, Trolls, Dragons, Balrogs, and all the other detestable creatures of The Lord of the Rings. Once again, Tolkien was a little wishy-washy about how this came to be. He wrote down a couple of possibilities and expressed his dissatisfaction with each answer. However, after Tolkien’s death, when his son Christopher Tolkien was putting together The Silmarillion, the most likely explanation for the evil beings of Middle-earth was chosen for publishing.

Angry that he couldn’t find the Secret Flame, Melkor (AKA Morgoth) began capturing Ilúvatar’s existing creations and twisting them into beings of his own invention.

One of Ilúvatar’s Vala, Melkor, deeply coveted the Secret Flame and endlessly sought after it. He desired to create life and never recognized that this was an ability that existed within Ilúvatar’s very being. Angry that he couldn’t find the Secret Flame, Melkor (AKA Morgoth) began capturing Ilúvatar’s existing creations and twisting them into beings of his own invention. Elves became Orcs, Ents became Trolls, and Maiar became Balrogs. So, Morgoth didn’t technically create life—not in the way Ilúvatar created the other races of The Lord of the Rings—he just corrupted what already existed.

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