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(For other characters see Denethor (disambiguation))

Denethor (II)
Daniel Govar - Denethor.jpg
Biographical Information
PositionRuling Steward
BirthT.A. 2930
RuleT.A. 2984-T.A. 3019
DeathT.A. 3019
Physical Description
GalleryImages of Denethor (II)

Denethor II (Third Age 2930 – March 15, 3019, aged 89 years) is the twenty-sixth and last Ruling Steward of Gondor. He succeeded his father Ecthelion II at his death in Third Age 2984.

Denethor is known to have secretly used a palantír to probe Sauron's strength. The effort aged him quickly, and the knowledge of Sauron's overwhelming force depressed him greatly. Sauron used the palantír to drive him mad with despair. He retained, however, an air of nobility and power.

In 2976 he married Finduilas of Dol Amroth, daughter of Prince Adrahil of Dol Amroth. She gave birth to two sons: Boromir and Faramir.

The death of Boromir, his firstborn and favorite, together with the siege and apparent doom of his capital city, drove him over the edge into insanity. He ordered his men to burn him alive on a pyre. He also attempted to take the grievously injured and apparently dying Faramir with him, but was thwarted in that by the timely intervention of Peregrin Took with the aid of Beregond, a guard of the City, and ultimately Gandalf the White.

Denethor committed suicide on March 15, 3019, having thrown a torch onto the pyre prepared for him and Faramir. He took the white rod of his office and broke it on his knee, casting it into the flames, symbolizing the end of his stewardship and the end of the rule of the Stewards. He laid himself down on the table and so perished, clasping the palantír in his hands. The Stewardship passed to Faramir, who remained in the Houses of Healing for a time, although the command of the city fell to the Prince of Dol Amroth during the remainder of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

In the film adaptation, when Faramir is brought into the throne room, seemingly dead, Pippin attempts to stop Denethor away from cremating his son, who he is sure is still alive. After Denethor knocks Pippin away, he falls onto the fire, and, in flames, runs out of the throne room and off the highest ledge of Minas Tirith, killing himself.

Portrayal in Adaptations

In the Rankin/Bass animated version of The Return of the King, William Conrad is the voice of Denethor.

In Peter Jackson's movie trilogy, Denethor was played by John Noble. In Peter Jackson's The Return of the King, Denethor appears completely irrational; he sends his remaining son on a suicidal mission to enemy-captured Osgiliath and refuses to light the warning beacons of Gondor to call for the aid of Rohan. In the book, the danger of his madness is that it seems to follow a certain logic; Sauron does have vastly superior forces, all of which he has surely shown to the Steward in the palantír. His actions, however, do not immediately proclaim his insanity; the Osgiliath mission is less obviously suicidal, as the city has not yet been overrun, and the warning beacons have indeed been lit, although Denethor expects little help.

See Also

Preceded by:
Ecthelion II
26th Ruling Steward of Gondor
III 2984 – 3019
Followed by:
(titular only)