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All about Orcs

by HerenIstarion (aka George Lashkhi)



Orcs are creatures mostly interesting to me. There are several issues concerning them, namely, their origin (dubious thing, you know, with Tolkien changing his mind about it), do they have free will, and, in this case, are to be considered sinners on their own behalf or just puppets of Morgoth/Sauron and therefore blameless, what is their lifespan etc. Most of what I ever had to say about the subject is placed at The Barrow Downs, but is scattered in several threads. I'll try to gather all there is worth of posting as a separate thread and present it to your attention. First installment will deal with so called (by me usually) Twelve Orkish Statements, referred to as TOS further on.



12 Orkish Statements:

1. Orcs have different origins, including beasts, Men and Elves. Great orcish leaders (Boldog) were orcish hrar inhabited by corrupted Maiar.

2. Those of beast origin need direct control of an evil mind (i.e. Morgoth or Sauron) to act with some purpose, otherwise they "stray aimlessly".

3. The Elvish and Mannish orcs are capable of independent action in those "good old days", when Sauron is out of the stage.

4. The Elvish and Mannish orcs definitely have far.

5. The Elvish-orcish fa has the right of Elvish ones to go to Mandos, therefore having the possibility to repent. The decision to rebuild its hra lies with the Valar, though usually the fa is supposed to be kept in captivity till the end of the World. On the other hand, it has the right to refuse the summons and remain in the Hither Lands as a houseless ghost or wraith.

6. A Mannish fa has to leave the confines of the world, as human far do.

7. Orcs are capable to be interbred with Men even in the third age, thus acts Saruman, as well as Sauron, producing a new type of "man-orc".

8. Beast-orcs must be considered innocent in a way, for they are just tormented and perverted animals, Kevlar with no free will.

9. Elvish and Mannish orcs possess free will, as all the Children of Eru, however it is suppressed by thehorror of Dark Lord, therefore they are not irredeemable and must be considered sinners, even those natural born ones, thus being distinguished from beast-orcs. Elvish and Mannish orcs know the Good from the Evil and appreciate the good (see Shagrat and Gorbag converse, where the "Elvish trick" of leaving companions is evaluated to be bad, and generally ascribed to the other side).

10. All Orcs hate the Dark Lord for what was done to them, but the hatred is suppressed by horror, and they hate peoples of free and good will still more.

11. Elven-Orcs especially dislike the Elves proper, and receive the same feeling from the other side.

12. Elven-orcs have the usual Elven longevity, therefore , for instance, some of them can recall and recognize items of several thousand years of age (Orcrist and Glamdring recognized by orcs in The Hobbit).


Those statements will be discussed one by one below:



All About Orcs clause 1

1. Orcs have different origins, including beasts, Men and Elves. Great orcish leaders (Boldog) were orcish hrar inhabited by corrupted Maiar

Before we proceed to their origins, it must be underlined that orcs are not the Dark Lord's creations, but only pervertions of what was in existence before:

"I have represented at least the Orcs as pre-existing real beings on whom the Dark Lord has exerted the fullness of his power in remodelling and corrupting them, not making them" (JRRT's letter to Peter Hastings (#153 in The Letters)

***

Orcs as Elves

In the published Silmarillion (further referred to as S77) it is stated:

"Yet this is held true by the wise of Eressa, that all those of the Quendi who came into the hands of Melkor, ere Utumno was broken, were put there in prison, and by slow arts of cruelty were corrupted and enslaved; and thus did Melkor breed the hideous race of the Orcs in envy and mockery of the Elves, of whom they were afterwards the bitterest foes"


Mark the following points: 1. Opinion (not precise knowledge) is ascribed to the 'wise of Eressa' (cf Treebeard and his opinion concerning trolls), not to the author himself.
2. Orcs are described as 'bitterest foes' of Elves. In case they are themselves perverted Elves, the situation is psychologically fitting (Elves seeing in Orcs what they themselves might have become, Orcs seeing in Elves what they were ripped of).

Point one plays against the Elven origin theory, point two for it. Not having 100% conclusion, I may assume that at least some (even if a very limited number) Elves were used in the breeding of Orcs.

***


Orcs as Men

If Morgoth was capable of twisting Elves (see assumption above), then he must have been capable of doing the same to Men. Immediate objection: Men haven't yet been awoken while Orcs were already in existence. On the other hand, we see Men used to be interbred with Orcs in later time (Saruman). Conclusion: Men might have been used by Morgoth to produce Orcs, yet were not at a time, and were added up to Orcish genetic soup in later ages.

***


Orcs as beasts

This is backed up by JRRT's direct statement: "Orcs are beasts and Balrogs corrupted Maiar" from 'Late Writings', History of Middle Earth (further HoME) volume XII.

I will come back to the source of the quote when I have to deal with free-will.

***


Orcs as Maiar

"Boldog, for instance, is a name that occurs many times in the tales of the War. But it is possible that Boldog was not a personal name, and either a title, or else the name of a kind of creature: the Orc-formed Maiar, only less formidable than the Balrogs." (HoME v X, Myths transformed)



All about Orcs Clause 2

Those of beast origin need direct control of an evil mind (i.e. Morgoth or Sauron) to act with some purpose, otherwise they "stray aimlessly".

Let me start with quatation from the Lord of The Rings (LoTR):

"But the Nazgl turned and fled, and vanished into Mordor's shadows, hearing a sudden terrible call out of the Dark Tower; and even at that moment all the hosts of Mordor trembled, doubt clutched their hearts, their laughter failed, their hands shook and their limbs were loosed. The Power that drove them on and filled them with hate and fury was wavering, its will was removed from them; and now looking in the eyes of their enemies they saw a deadly light and were afraid."

and this:

"As when death smites the swollen brooding thing that inhabits their crawling hill and holds them all in sway, ants will wander witless and purposeless and then feebly die, so the creatures of Sauron, orc or troll or beast spell-enslaved, ran hither and thither mindless; and some slew themselves, or cast themselves in pits, or fled wailing back to hide in holes and dark lightless places far from hope."

Further it is said that some Men, on the other hand, gathered for the last stand against the Captains of the West.

Three points to underline here:

1. 'All the hosts of Mordor' - i.e. not only orcs, but Easterlings, Haradrim etc. So, Sauron is affecting not only Orcs, but Men; and his will imposed causes them to be furious in battle and fearless.
2. Only Orcs and the like are directly controlled by Sauron's will, and men are just infuriated and made fierce by it.
3. 'they saw a deadly light and were afraid'. Well, not to stray off topic and fall into discussion of Sauron's abilities, let me ask you to compare this sudden fear to:

"Then Aul took up a great hammer to smite the Dwarves; and he wept. But Ilvatar had compassion upon Aul and his desire, because of his humility; and the Dwarves shrank from the hammer and wore afraid, and they bowed down their heads and begged for mercy. And the voice of Ilvatar said to Aul: 'Thy offer I accepted even as it was made. Dost thou not see that these things have now a life of their own, and speak with their own voices? Else they would not have flinched from thy blow, nor from any command of thy will.'" (S77)

In both cases independent 'fear' on the creature's part is a sign it possesses 'life of its own'. Is it a contradiction? For in case the dwarves' fear indicates that they are 'adopted' by Eru and given the will of their own. Does it mean that (beast)orcs have free will as well? (Free will in general will be discussed in entry 4). I think not, for the 'life of their own' is a essence of kelvar (animals) as well as of 'Speaking Peoples', though it does not imply they have fear and posses the free will.

Let us go back to the words already quoted in the entry 1: "Orcs are beasts and Balrogs corrupted Maiar" (HoME XII, Late Writings) and add something to it: "It will there be seen that the wills of Orcs and Balrogs etc. are part of Melkor's power 'dispersed'. Their spirit is one of hate." (ibid.)

But what happens to (beast)orcs where there is nobody around to control them? Detailed discussion will be given in the next entry, but here it must be said the following:

"One of the reasons for his [Melkor's] self-weakening is that he has given to his 'creatures', Orcs, Balrogs, etc. power of recuperation and multiplication. So that they will gather again without further specific orders. Part of his native creative power has gone out into making an independent evil growth out of his control." (ibid.)



Clause 3.

The Elvish and Mannish orcs are capable of independent action in those "good old days", when Sauron is out of the stage.



But, in the course of research, I think I may be even allowed to rephrase it as simply as:

orcs are capable of independent action.

There are several examples of orcs acting on their own: the ambush of the Gladden Fields, where Isildur was destroyed being the most intense of all examples, since the Evil Mind supposed to be controlling them, i.e. Sauron, was just unclad and diminished at that time. Another example of orcs' capability of independence may be given with Shagrat's / Gorbag's conversation in the Lord of the Rings, who go as far as 'talking as rebels':

"Oho! So they haven't told you what to expect? They don't tell us all they know, do they? Not by half. But they can make mistakes, even the Top Ones can."

Gorbag is criticizing if not Sauron himself, yet his mostly "beloved" Nazgl. How is it possible, especially in the light of the above discussed 'direct control of Evil'?
cf this from HoME X, Myths Transformed:

"I think it must be assumed that 'talking' is not necessarily the sign of the possession of a 'rational soul' or fea. The Orcs were beasts of humanized shape (to mock Men and Elves) deliberately perverted I converted into a more close resemblance to Men. Their 'talking' was really reeling off 'records' set in them by Melkor. Even their rebellious critical words - he knew about them. Melkor taught them speech and as they bred they inherited this; and they had just as much independence as have, say, dogs or horses of their human masters. This talking was largely echoic (cf. parrots). In The Lord of the Rings Sauron is said to have devised a language for them."

and

"Morgoth not Sauron is the source of Orc-wills. Sauron is just another (if greater) agent. Orcs can rebel against him without losing their own irremediable allegiance to evil (Morgoth)."

That says it all I think. As an assumption: those orcs who had a human (and mostly rare, yet still possible, Elvish) strain in their blood still more were capable to act independently.



Clause 4

The elvish and mannish orcs definitely have far.

Well, the above stated is logical in case [Elves and] Men were used to produce orcs. Though Elvish origin, as was stated above, is improbable, men are proven to be used in orc production. Evidence is given in LoTR: "'But these creatures of Isengard, these half-orcs and goblin-men that the foul craft of Saruman has bred, they will not quail at the sun"

Such a deed is considered the most sinful of what Saruman has done. Earlier, the same evaluation is given to Morgoth and his production of works:

compare

"And deep in their dark hearts the Orcs loathed the Master whom they served in fear, the maker only of their misery. This it may be was the vilest deed of Melkor, and the most hateful to Ilvatar." (S77)

with

"Therefore Isildur must have fallen not into the deep stream but into shallow water, no more than shoulder-high, Why then, though an Age had passed, were there no traces of his bones? Had Saruman found them, and scorned them - burned them with dishonour in one of his furnaces? If that were so, it was a shameful deed; but not his worst." (Unfinished Tales)

'not his worst' here refers to cross-breeding of Men and orcs, which is his worst deed.

And, with the already stated above, compare:

"I do not conceive of the making of souls or spirits, things of an equal order if not an equal power to the Valar, as a possible 'delegation', I have represented at least the Orcs as pre-existing real beings on whom the Dark Lord has exerted the fullness of his power in remodelling and corrupting them, not making them." (Letter 153)

I have to conclude vice-versa is also impossible, so taking away the soul, fa, already in existence is as impossible as giving one to a "golem" created.



Clause 5:

The Elvish-orcish fa has the right of Elvish ones to go to Mandos, therefore having the possibility to repent. The decision to rebuild its hra lies with the Valar, though usually the fa is supposed to be kept in captivity till the end of the World. On the other hand, it has the right to refuse the summons and remain in the Hither Lands as a houseless ghost or wraith.

Well, the above is an almost entirely speculative statement, but logically chained to what has been already said above concerning the subject. Since I assume that noone can take away a fa once it is there, I logically conclude that its essentials (i.e. going to Mandos, equally as the right not to go there) cannot be taken away as well. As for captivity till the end of time, I have Tolkien's own words to back me up, though those may be not a final statement but meditation on the subject: "And dying they would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." (HoME X)

But, since Tolkien himself stated that no creature (with the possible exception of Morgoth [and Sauron]) is irredeemable, I may speculate further and assume that there always remains a possibility (however minor) of an orkish fa repenting. Then, speculating again, one may assume it may be allowed and be provided with a rebuilt hra, which, naturally, would equal the state of a repenting fa and be not of an orc, but maybe similar to what was once original concept - Elven bodily form.
As for wraith/ghost assumption, again I can not provide you with clear statement, but possibility is there:

"When released they would [umaiar spirits killed in bodily form], of course, like Sauron, be 'damned': i.e. reduced to impotence, infinitely recessive: still hating but unable more and more to make it effective physically (or would not a very dwindled dead Orc-state be a poltergeist?" (HoME X, Myths Transformed)

The entries 6-12 seem self-explaining to yours truly, so will stand as they are and need not be discussed separately.

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