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Daniel Govar - Ulmo Lord of the Seas.jpg
Biographical Information
Other namesUllubōz, "King of the Sea", "Lord of Waters", "Dweller of the Deep", Ulu, Guiar, Gulma
PositionLord of Waters
LocationUlmo's halls
AffiliationOssë, Uinen, and possibly Salmar
Physical Description
ClothingGreen armor
GalleryImages of Ulmo

Ulmo (Quenya, pronounced [ˈulmo] was a Vala, also known as King of the Sea, Lord of Waters, and Dweller of the Deep.[1] One of the mightiest of the Ainur, he was second in majesty of the Aratar, after Manwë (and Varda).

At several points Ulmo was notable for setting himself apart from his brethren, and also for being the friendliest to the Children of Eru.



Ulmo is the Lord of Waters and King of the Sea.[2] He is the Ainu most deeply instructed in music, and it is said that in water the Eldar hear the echo of the Music of the Ainur.[3] He governs all waters, bays, rivers and even the deeps under the earth who alone has seen.[2]

From the beginning Manwë has been his closest friend and ally and they come together when the vapors of the water become clouds high in the air, or mists and dew. The two most faithfully served the purpose of Eru.[4]

Ulmo was unique among the Valar in several ways; he was alone, taking no spouse among the Valier; he didn't dwell in Valinor but preferred the deeps of the seas and the rivers to land. He thought of all Arda, and ever moved all around and below Ambar. He didn't love walking upon land but came unseen to the shores or enters firths of the sea and rivers. It is through these that he kept in touch with Arda, for it was said his spirit was in the very veins of the world. He seldom appeared to the councils of his brethren, save in matters of great importance.[2]

Likewise, he seldomly wore a fana but was mostly unseen around the shores and speaks through the sound of water, and made music with his horns, the Ulumúri. But whenever he appeared, he was dreadful and terrible "as a mounting wave that strides to the land"; he wore a dark foam-crested helm and a shimmering silver-green mail, and his voice was deep like the ocean.[2]

Ulmo loved Arda and the Children of Eru, and through the veins of the world he saw every grief and need, and thus knew more of the goings on with them than even Manwë. Even when the Children were under the wrath of his brethren, Ulmo, alone of the Valar, was the one who never forsook them.[2]


Ulmo was very close in friendship to Manwë before Ea was made, and although Manwë was the most dear to Ilúvatar, of all the Ainur Ulmo was most deeply instructed in music. Ulmo with Manwë and Aulë were the architects of Arda.[5]

He he had always distrusted Melkor. The Dark Lord feared him almost as much as he feared Varda, since the sea cannot be tamed.

He seldomly came to the Councils of Máhanaxar, but Ulmo defended the Eldar in the council from the potential wrath of Mandos.

Ulmo's vassal Ossë, and Ossë's spouse Uinen were, to the elves, the best known of the Maiar. Through them Ulmo would learn much of the elves.

Ulmo had always loved the Eldar and the Edain, even when the Valar forsook Middle-earth. He opposed Oromë's plan to bring the Elves to Aman. But he eventually helped them get to Aman, because he knew that was what they wanted, and he accepted that. He tore a great piece of land off the shores of Beleriand and used it to transport the Eldar to the blessed coasts of Aman. He anchored the island (it was renamed Tol Eressëa) in the Bay of Eldamar, which he did because he knew the minds of the Teleri.

During the First Age Ulmo protected Sirion and Gelion and directed more than any other Vala the Children of Ilúvatar. He urged Turgon to build Gondolin and Finrod to build Nargothrond.

He chose Tuor as his instrument before his birth, by aiding Huor and Húrin reach Gondolin ad then telling Turgon to accept him, as aid would come from the House of Hador. Years later, he guided Tuor directing him to Gondolin as a messenger for Turgon. Despite his warnings, Turgon chose not to abandon Gondolin. Tuor eventually married Turgon's daughter Idril and fathered Eärendil the Half-elven; Ulmo saved Elwing from the sack of the Havens of Sirion, and thus she took the Silmaril to her husband Eärendil which allowed them to gain admittance to Valinor and plead for their mercy.


The name Ulmo is said to derive from the Valarin Ullubōz.[6]

Alternatively, Ulmo is a Quenya title, which means "He who pours" (cf. ulya- "to pour" and agentive ending -mo "-er").[source?]

In the earlier writings his Noldorin name was Ylmir, among them Tuor's The Horns of Ylmir.[source?] (Another Noldorin translation of his name is given as Nûron.)[7][8] The Sindarin form is Ulu ([ˈulu]), though he is also called Guiar ([ˈɡuɪ.ar]) and Gulma ([ˈɡulma]).[source?]

In Eriol's Old English translations, Ulmo is referred to by various names: Garsecges frea "Ocean ruler", ealwaeter-frea "All-waters ruler" or agendfrea ealra waetera "owning lord of all waters".[9]

Other versions of the Legenarium

His palace, on the bottom of the Outer Sea, was called Ulmonan.[10]

See also

External links


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Valaquenta: Of the Valar"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Ainulindalë: The Music of the Ainur"
  4. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named ai
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Ainulindalë: The Music of the Ainur"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Four. Quendi and Eldar: Appendix D. *Kwen, Quenya, and the Elvish (especially Ñoldorin) words for 'Language': Note on the 'Language of the Valar'"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", p. 378 (entry for NŪ-)
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Addenda and Corrigenda to the Etymologies — Part Two" (edited by Carl F. Hostetter and Patrick H. Wynne), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 46, July 2004, p. 7
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "III. The Quenta: Appendix 1: Fragments of a translation of The Quenta Noldorinwa into Old English, made by Ælfwine or Eriol; together with Old English equivalents of Elvish names"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Appendix: Names in the Lost Tales – Part I, p. 270