Tolkien Gateway


"...It is a long tale..." — Aragorn
This article or section needs expansion and/or modification. Please help the wiki by expanding it.
"Who told you, and who sent you?" — Gandalf
This article or section needs more/new/more-detailed sources to conform to a higher standard and to provide proof for claims made.
John Howe - Ulmo.jpg
"Ulmo, Lord of the Waters" by John Howe
Biographical Information
PronunciationQuenya, [ˈulmo]
Other namesUllubōz (V)
"King of the Sea", "Lord of Waters", "Dweller of the Deep", Ulu, Gulma
PositionLord of Waters
AffiliationOssë, Uinen, and possibly Salmar
Physical Description
ClothingGreen armor
GalleryImages of Ulmo
"Ulmo loves both Elves and Men, and never abandoned them, not even when they lay under the wrath of the Valar."
Valaquenta: Of the Valar

Ulmo was a Vala, also known as King of the Sea, Lord of Waters, and Dweller of the Deep.[2] 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.


[edit] Attributes

Ulmo is the Lord of Waters and King of the Sea.[3] 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.[4] He lives in the deeps under Ambar who alone has seen where he devises his music and whence he governs all waters, bays and rivers.[3][1]

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 in Ekkaia from the beginning, preferring the deeps of the seas around and below Ambar, and the rivers. He seldom appeared to the councils of his brethren, save in matters of great importance.[3]

Likewise, he seldomly wore a fana but he came to the shores unseen or entered firths of the sea and rivers and it was said his spirit was in the very veins of the world. He spoke 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.[3]

Ulmo cared about Arda and the Children of Eru, and through the veins of the world he kept in touch with them and saw every grief and need, and thus knew more of the goings on with them than even Manwë. Even while the Valar were secluded in Valinor or when the Children were under the wrath of his brethren, Ulmo, alone of the Valar, was the one who never forsook them.[3][1]

[edit] History

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.[4] 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.[3]

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

When the Valar retreated to Valinor, Ulmo remained to the Outer Sea, and while his brethren neglected the Outer Lands during the Sleep of Yavanna, Ulmo kept the earth alive under the darkness.[1]

He seldomly came to the Councils of Máhanaxar, such as the time when the Valar were to prepare to attack Melkor's fortress of Utumno. He also was the chieft of a minority of the Valar who believed that the Elves should remain free in Middle-earth, and order and heal the hurts of the land with their skills and grace, but this opinion was overruled.[5]

Nevertheless 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.

When the time came for Melkor to be given a second chance, Ulmo was disappointed when Manwë pardoned Melkor after serving his time in bondage. Ulmo was ever distrustful of Melkor, an opinion shared by Tulkas and Varda. Ulmo defended the Eldar in the council from the potential wrath of Mandos.

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 helping Huor and Húrin reach Gondolin and 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 Ulmo's warning, 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.

[edit] Etymology

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

Alternatively, Ulmo is a Quenya title, which means "the Pourer" (cf. ulya- "to pour" and agentive ending -mo "-er").[6]

In the earlier writings his Gnomish name was Gulma.[7] Later his Noldorin name was Ylmir[8] (see Tuor's The Horns of Ylmir). Another Noldorin translations of his name were given as Nûron and Ulu.[9][10]

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").[11]

[edit] Other versions of the legendarium

His palace, on the bottom of the Outer Sea, was called Ulmonan.[12]

[edit] External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Beginning of Days"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Valaquenta: Of the Valar"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Ainulindalë: The Music of the Ainur"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"
  6. 6.0 6.1 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 Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "Appendix: Names in the Lost Tales – Part II", p. 349, note "Ulmonan"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "II. The Earliest 'Silmarillion' (The 'Sketch of the Mythology')", p. 13
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entries "NŪ-" and "ULU"
  10. 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
  11. 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"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Appendix: Names in the Lost Tales – Part I, p. 270