Brief Information   
Etymological Note   
Comments and Annotations   

Brief Information    

A cunning, great dragon of the EredMithrin, who invaded the Kingdom under the Mountain and destroyed Dale in ThA 2770. He was the main enemy of Thorin and Company in their quest to regain the Kingdom under the Mountain. In ThA 2941, after Bilbo had stolen a cup from the dragon's hoard, he attacked Esgaroth and eventually was slain by Bard.



Etymological Note    

In a letter to the Observer Tolkien called the name of Smaug a low philological jest. (Letters #25). Prof. Shippey elaborates a little further on this issue:

There is however another character in this continuum, indeed at one end of it, and that is Smaug. His name is another 'asterisk word', being the past tense *smaug of a Germanic verb *smugan, 'to squeeze through a hole', as Tolkien said in his 1938 Observer letter; also the Old Norse equivalent of an Old English magic word found in a spell wið sméogan wyrme, 'against the penetrating worm'. But he has a mental sense as well as a physical one, since O.E. sméagan also means 'to inquire into' and in adjectival form 'subtle, crafty'. All round it is appropriate that Smaug should have the most sophisticated intelligence in The Hobbit.
The Road to Middle-earth

Comments and Annotations    

When Tolkien generated his ideal fireside adventure tale for the book The Hobbit, he proceded from east to west: A warm, safe countryside, a road leading past distant towns and outlying villages, a "last homely house" before the wilderness, then tall mountains, then a long river, then a dark forest, and then at the end the most dangerous thing in the Hobbits' or our mythologies: A Dragon, with wings and flame, laying in the bottom of a mountain/palace on top of a heap of stolen gold. -- [PhlIp]

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