“ The way is shut. It is made by those who are dead. And the dead keep it. The way is shut. ”
— Legolas, Return of the King
Legolas Greenleaf was a Sindarin Elf who became a part of the Fellowship of the Ring. With his keen eyesight, sensitive hearing, and excellent bowmanship, Legolas was a valuable resource to the other eight members of the Fellowship.
Role in the story Edit
Legolas was Prince of Mirkwood, the son of King Thranduil, a descendant from the royal line of Sindarin elves. Legolas was considered young by Elven standards, but was at least five centuries old. He first came to prominance at the council of Elrond, where he came as a messenger from his father to discuss the escape of Gollum. Elrond picked Legolas to become one of the members of the Fellowship that set out to destroy the One Ring.
Within the Fellowship, Legolas and the dwarf, Gimli, clashed because of the ancient quarrel between Elves and Dwarves after the destruction of Doriath, and also because Legolas's father Thranduil once imprisoned Gimli's father Glóin (during Bilbo's Quest to the Lonely Mountain). They became friends, however, when they entered Lothlórien and Gimli greeted the Lady of the Golden Wood with gentle words. In the Battle of the Hornburg, he and Gimli engaged in Orc-slaying contests (Gimli won by one, but the real result was mutual respect).
After the destruction of the One Ring and of Sauron, the two went off travelling together through Fangorn Forest. Eventually, Legolas came to Ithilien with some of his people, with his father's leave, to live out his remaining time in Middle-earth helping to restore the devastated forests of that war-ravaged land. After the death of King Elessar, Legolas left Middle-earth to go over the Sea, and Gimli's love for his friend, and the desire to see Galadriel once again, prompts him to go with Legolas; the first and only Dwarf to do so.
The Character Edit
Although he lived among them and in their culture, Legolas was not one of the Silvan Elves. As a son of the Elven-king Thranduil, who had originally come from Doriath, Legolas was actually a Sindarin Elf. This is complicated by the fact that a small minority of Sindarin Elves ruled the predominantly Silvan Woodland Realm of Northern Mirkwood, a minority to which Legolas belonged. The Sindarin minority in that realm, who should have been more noble and wise than the Silvan Elves, can be seen as having "gone native" at the end of the First Age: after Morgoth was defeated and all of the grand Elf-kingdoms of Beleriand were destroyed, they can be seen as going back to "a simpler time" in their culture.
While Legolas' age is never given in Tolkien's writings, Tolkien scholars have estimated he is at the most 800–900 years old by the time of the War of the Ring, and possibly no less than 500. To see their reasoning, see the articles referred to below.
Tolkien himself states that Legolas accomplishes the least of the nine members of the Fellowship.
Although Tolkien elves are a diverse group, fantasy and gaming enthusiasts tend to cite Legolas as the archetypical basis for the majority of modern elf stereotypes, in particular archery.
Legolas' Name Edit
The name Legolas is a Silvan dialect form of pure Sindarin Laegolas, Greenleaf. It consists of the Sindarin words laeg, green; and golas, a collection of leaves, foliage (being a prefixed collective form of las(s), leaf). The Quenya form (mentioned in the Book of Lost Tales in the context of another character of that name) is Laiqualassë.
There might, however, be a certain meaning to his name: laeg is a very rare, archaic word for green, which is normally replaced by calen (cf. Calenhad, mutated Parth Galen and plural Pinnath Gelin) and is otherwise almost only preserved in Laegrim, Laegel(d)rim (Sindarin form of Quenya Laiquendi), the Green Elves of the First Age. It may be that Thranduil named his son Legolas to at least in part refer to this people, who were remote kin and ancestors of the later Silvan Elves, the people Thranduil ruled and to whom - very likely - Thranduil's wife belonged.
Appearence in the books and filmsEdit
In the booksEdit
In the moviesEdit
Legolas on Film and in other Media Edit
In the 'official movie guide' for The Lord of the Rings, a birthdate for Legolas is set to TA 87. This would make him 2931 years old at the time of the War of the Ring. This date for Legolas' birth was made up by the movie writers, as in the books there are no known dates concerning Legolas before TA 3018. There are in fact various reasons to believe that Legolas was in fact only a few centuries old, and possibly not much older than 500.
Due to a technical mishap involving Orlando Bloom's contact lenses, in the films Legolas' eye colour sometimes changes between brown and purple.
Peter Jackson also filmed, but never used, footage of Legolas in his new home.
Previous Adaptations Edit
Legolas of Gondolin Edit
The name Legolas Greenleaf first appeared in The Fall of Gondolin, one of the "Lost Tales". The character is mentioned only once and is unrelated to the character discussed above. Because Tolkien had reused the name in LOTR, this Legolas was not included in the published Silmarillion.
The Legolas of Gondolin, who Tolkien would have likely renamed, has a different etymology. His name (Laiqalassë in its pure form) comes from the primitive Quenya (Qenya) words laica, green, and lassë, leaf. The names are very similar, but the characters were different: Legolas of Gondolin was a Ñoldorin Exile, head of the House of the Tree.
- But the others, led by one Legolas Greenleaf of the house of the Tree, who knew all that plain by day or by dark, and was night-sighted, made much speed over the vale for all their weariness, and halted only after a great march.
- "The Fall of Gondolin", Book of Lost Tales.
Legolas in Video GamesEdit
Legolas has appeared in various games, particularly those from EA. In The Two Towers and The Return of the King action-adventure games, he uses his twin white knives for hand-to-hand combat and bow for ranged attacks. He is confirmed to be in the upcoming game The Lord of the Rings Conquest.
In Battle for Middle-earth series, Legolas is a playable hero for the Elven faction. His handful of powers include Hawk Strike, Knife Fighter, Train Archers and Arrow Wind.