In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Legolas Greenleaf is a Sindarin Elf who becomes a part of the Fellowship of the Ring. With his keen eyesight, sensitive hearing, and excellent bowmanship, Legolas is a valuable resource to the other eight members of the Fellowship. Tolkien himself states, however, that Legolas accomplishes the least of the nine members of the Fellowship.

Although Tolkien elves are a diverse group, fantasy and gaming enthusiasts tend to cite Legolas as the archetypical basis for the majority of modern elf stereotypes, in particular archery.

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Legolas is Prince of Mirkwood, the son of King Thranduil, descendants from the royal line of Sindarin elves. The age of Legolas is not known, and while he appears to be young by Elven standards he is at least a few centuries old. He is first introduced in the first part of The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, at the council of Elrond. He comes as a messenger from his father to discuss the escape of Gollum. Elrond picks him to become one of the members of the Fellowship that sets out to destroy the One Ring.

Within the Fellowship, Legolas and the dwarf, Gimli, clash because of the ancient quarrel between Elves and Dwarves after the destruction of Doriath, and also because Legolas's father Thranduil once imprisoned Gimli's father Glin (as described in The Hobbit). They become friends, however, when they enter Lothlrien and Gimli greets the Lady of the Golden Wood with gentle words. In the Battle of the Hornburg, he and Gimli engage in Orc-slaying contests (Gimli wins by one, but the real result is mutual respect).

After the destruction of the One Ring and of Sauron, the two go off traveling together through Fangorn Forest. Eventually, Legolas comes to Ithilien with some of his people, with his father's leave, to live out his remaining time in Middle-earth. After the death of King Elessar, Legolas leaves Middle-earth to go over the Sea, and Gimli's love for his friend, and the desire to see Galadriel once again, prompts him to go with Legolas— the first and only Dwarf to do so.

The name Legolas is a Silvan dialect form of Sindarin Laegolass, Greenleaf. It comes from the Sindarin linguistic elements laeg, green; go- or gwa-, together; and lass or las, leaf. Together these would make the phrase Laeg go-lass, meaning green (collection of) leaves, and simplified to Legolas, the English translation of which would be the familiar Greenleaf. There is however another meaning to his name: laeg is an extremely obscure word for green, which is otherwise only used in Laiquendi, the Green Elves of the First Age. It is probable that Thranduil named his son Legolas to at least in part refer to this people, who were predecessors and in some cases even remote ancestors of the later Silvan Elves, the people Thranduil ruled.

Although he lived among them and in their culture, Legolas was not one of the Silvan Elves. As a son of the Elven-king Thranduil, who had originally come from Doriath, Legolas was actually a Sindarin Elf. This is complicated by the fact that a small minority of Sindarin Elves ruled the predominantly Silvan Woodland Realm of Northern Mirkwood, a minority to which Legolas belonged. The Sindarin minority in that realm, who should have been more noble and wise than the Silvan Elves, can be seen as having "gone native" at the end of the First Age: after Morgoth was defeated and all of the grand Elf-kingdoms of Beleriand were destroyed, they can be seen as going back to "a simpler time" in their culture.

While Legolas' age is never given in Tolkien's writings, Tolkien scholars have estimated he is at the most 800–900 years old by the time of the War of the Ring, and possibly no less than 500. To see their reasoning, see the articles referred to below.

Legolas of Gondolin

The name Legolas Greenleaf first appeared in The Fall of Gondolin, one of the "Lost Tales". The character is mentioned only once and is unrelated to the character discussed above.

The Legolas of Gondolin, who Tolkien would have likely renamed, has a different etymology. His name comes from the primitive Quenya words laica, green, and lass, leaf. The names are very similar, but the characters' native languages were different.

Legolas on film

Legolas is played in the film versions by Orlando Bloom.

In the 'official movie guide' for The Lord of the Rings, Legolas's birthdate is set to 87 of the Third Age. This would make him 2931 years old at the time of the War of the Ring. However, this date was made up by the movie writers, as in the books there are no known dates concerning Legolas before T.A. 3018, and there are various reasons that Legolas was in fact only a few centuries old. The year T.A. 2931 is Aragorn's birth year, which may not be a coincidence. Also, in the films Legolas' eye color sometimes changes between brown and purple: this was a technical mishap involving the actor's contact lenses which were supposed to change his eye color.

External links

es:Legolas fr:Legolas it:Legolas he:לגולס nl:Legolas ja:レゴラス pl:Legolas sv:Legolas


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