31 Jan 2010

Name: Legolas 'Greenleaf ' - Status: "Strange Elf"

"There was also a strange Elf clad in green and brown, Legolas, a messenger from his father, Thranduil, the King of the Elves of Northern Mirkwood." (J.R.R.Tolkien - Council of Elrond)

Legolas Greenleaf, son of Thranduil,King of the Woodland Realm of Northern Mirkwood that rules over the Silvanian Elves. The same Thranduil that appears in The Hobbit as the Elvenking. Thranduil is originally from Lindon, and this makes him and Legolas , Sindar or Grey-Elves. Legolas's mother and date of birth are unknown.

A 'strange' Elf, clad not only in green and brown but also in mystery. Who is Legolas Greenleaf and how to trace his history back in time? And why does Tolkien refer to his as 'strange' among the Elves? Legolas is one of the Nine chosen to be part on the Fellowship of the Ring, from the start he become the 'eyes' and 'ears' of the group, often on a look-out duties. Oddly enough he seem not very knowledgeable about the history of his people or Middle-earth or maybe he is just careful not to reveal too much as Elves often are. He is defiantly not a warrior like Gimli, his main preoccupation seem to be limited to protect his companions, Legolas is clearly a skilled woodland Elf, in touch with the natural world.


Legolas is the son of a King, therefore he is a Prince of the Elves, yet no one does refer to him as such or treat him with special regards for his royal connection. This is small surprise considering Legolas never refers to himself as a Prince or as the son of a King. In fairness it must be said that as Elves are immortal he is not expected to be replacing his father as King any time soon, Maybe for Elves such royal titles and connections have little importance , Legolas clearly does not feel or act as if he is special or different from the rest of the Fellowship. As I said at the start his heritage is Sindar, yet Legolas has all the characteristics of a true Wood-Elf. The Sindar are often associated with nobility while the Wood-Elves live a more simple and rustic life, often oblivious of the rest of the world and in close contact with nature similar to the life of the hobbits in the Shire.


I like to call Legolas like that :) He is indeed warm like a ray of sunshine. In the depth of despair in Caradhras under a wild snow storm when all hope seem lost, here is our 'strange' Elf, wearing only soft shoes, singing little songs and setting off to a very important quest....

'I go to find the Sun!'

His behaviour is simple and child-like, he is positive and smiling into adversity, often joking with Gimli and the others, lifting their spirits. he is curious about the strange trees on the road to Isengard, like a child would be . Legolas is like a ray of sunshine.

Legolas watch them for a while with a smile upon his lips, and then he turned to the others. ' The strongest must seek a way, say you? But I say: let a ploughman plough, but chose an otter for swimming, and for running light over grass and leaf, or over snow - an Elf.' (J.R.R.Tolkien -The Ring Goes South)


Here a debate that has divided Legolas's fans since the book came out, how does he look and what colour is Legolas's hair? When it came to describe Legolas, Tolkien wrote only that he is tall, fair and beautiful like his race. Elves however have different colour hair just like Men, Hobbits and Dwarves do. So is he dark-haired or is he blond? A very small clue about this matter can be found in The Hobbit book, where Tolkien describes Legolas's father Thranduil as being blond although Sindar Elves do have dark hair, while Wood-Elves are typically blond, or light coloured -haired. In the Fellowship of the Ring there are two very small references about Legolas's hair

"...with his hood thrown back; his hair glinted like gold in the morning sun." (J.R.R. Tolkien-Lothlórien)

Maybe his mother was a Wood-Elf, maybe Legolas is taking after his mother, although his father is also blond, maybe he is not a 'pure' Sindar but a mix blood Elf, but regardless of his true heritage, it is quite clear that although very good-looking, Legolas is much more then a handsome Elf , he is a loyal and valued member of the Fellowship, a true friend.


In the Sindarian dialect the name Legolas means 'Greenleaf' . The name was first used by Professor Tolkien in The Fall of Gondolin in 1917. The Legolas of Gondolin however is most likely not the same Elf we all know and love. In Peter Jackson's movie trilogy Legolas's role went to a young unknown actor called Orlando Bloom. In the Trilogy Legolas is a valiant fighter who will perform several incredible stuns. As recently as last week news were circulating on the Internet that Orlando Bloom would be ready and willing to take up the role of Legolas again in The Hobbit. In all honesty I am not quite sure about Legolas appearing in The Hobbit because Tolkien do not place him there at all. The Hobbit will do what Lord of the Rings Trilogy did, kindle curiosity in many so that people that never knew Tolkien before or read his books may feel the time has come for them to pick the 'real' story up and have a good read,...well, I hope so anyway because the magic of the movies do come from the magic of Tolkien's pen :)


The One Ring is no more, Legolas is present in Minas Tirith as a witness of Aragorn's coronation and his marriage to Arwen. Having forged the greatest of friendships with Gimli, the two of them will be then go travelling together. Later on Legolas starts an Elf-colony in Ithilien, and spends several years helping in the recreation forests that were been destroyed in battles. After the death of Aragorn, Legolas will build a beautiful Grey Ship and pass into the West in the Undying Lands with Gimli, as it is told in the Red Book of Westmarch written by Bilbo and Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee of the Shire.

Legolas' Song of the Sea

To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gulls are crying,
The wind is blowing, and the white foam is flying.
West, west away, the round sun is falling.
Grey ship, grey ship, do you hear them calling,
The voices of my people that have gone before me?
I will leave, I will leave the woods that bore me;
For our days are ending and our years failing.
I will pass the wide waters lonely sailing.
Long are the waves on the Last Shore falling,
Sweet are the voices in the Lost Isle calling,
In Eressëa, in Elvenhome that no man can discover,
Where the leaves fall not: land of my people for ever!


(Pics from Ralph Bakshi and John Howe)