Also known as: Son of Arathorn, Isildur's Heir, Strider (name in Bree), Longshanks (called this by Bill Ferny), Wingfoot (name given by Éomer), Elessar (Elf-stone), Envinyatar (Renewer), Thorongil (Eagle of the Star), Estel (Hope), Telcontar (Strider in Quenya, the name of his House), The Dúnadan (Man of the West)
Throughout the histories of the Edain, the fates of many men have been recounted, describing adventures filled with wonder, woe and feats of epic bravery.
We know of Beren, who cut from Morgoth's Iron Crown a Silmaril, the bride-price for his love, Lúthien, Thingol's daughter.
We think of Túrin Turambar, 'The Mormegil' whom Elves said could not be slain; the ill-fated Son of Húrin, cursed until he dealt Glaurung his death blow and finally unveiled the bitter truth.
Tuor, who by the guidance of Ulmo, was set the task of finding Turgon and so heralded the Fall of the hidden city of Gondolin. These are but a few of the Men who inspired the heroic Lays of Middle-earth.
In the ThirdAge, another tale may be heard, that of Aragorn son of Arathorn, the nine and thirtieth heir in the right line from Isildur. Descended from the faithful of Númenor and whose destiny it was to reclaim the kingship of the fractured realms of Arnor and Gondor.
Aragorn was the son of Gilraen and Arathorn II, the heir of Isildur son of Elendil, descendent of the Kings of Númenor. He was born on March first, ThirdAge 2931, and died in FourthAge 120.
|Brief Description |
Aragorn was raised in Rivendell by Elrond, who gave him the name Estel to conceal his lineage from Sauron. In ThirdAge 2951, when Sauron openly declared himself, Aragorn returned to Rivendell after 'great deeds'. Elrond revealed his right name and lineage to him, and gave to Aragorn the shards of Narsil and the Ring of Barahir. Also at this time, Aragorn first met Arwen daughter of Elrond. From this day he loved her, but Arwen barely noticed him as yet.
Aragorn returned to the Wild fighting evil, serving both King Thengel of Rohan and Ecthelion, Steward of Gondor, in disguise. In ThirdAge 2980, Aragorn came to Lothlórien, where he again met Arwen. Now Arwen's heart also was given to him, and his had been to her, and they plighted their troth on CerinAmroth. Elrond then told Aragorn that Arwen would marry no lesser man than the King of Gondor and Arnor.
Aragorn meets Frodo, Sam, Pippin, and Merry at the Prancing Pony, where he is introduced to them as Strider. Having convinced them of his good intentions, he guides them to Rivendell. At the Council of Elrond, Aragorn openly proclaims his lineage, and agrees to join the Fellowship of the Ring. At this time, the shards of Narsil, Elendil's sword which had been broken in his struggle with Sauron was reforged, and given the name Andúril.
Aragorn presciently warns Gandalf to beware should he enter Moria, and leads the Fellowship after Gandalf's fall. In Lothlórien, Galadriel gives him the Elessar as a token from Arwen. After the breaking of the Fellowship, Aragorn, with Legolas and Gimli, pursues the orcs to rescue Merry and Pippin, meeting Éomer, and later Gandalf the White.
Fighting at the battle of Helm's Deep, Andúril returns to war. After the destruction of Isengard, Gandalf gives Aragorn the Palantir of Orthanc. Aragorn uses it to challenge Sauron and force him to hasten his plans. Learning of Gondor's dire need through the Palantir, Aragorn takes the Paths of the Dead. Leading the Dead Men of Dunharrow to fulfill their oath to fight against Sauron, Aragorn overthrows the army gathering at Pelargir and sails in the captured fleet to the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Here the Hosts of the West are victorious. Aragorn leads the surviving forces to a desperate battle before the Gates of Mordor to buy time for Frodo.
Following the defeat of Sauron by the destruction of the Ring, Aragorn is crowned King of Gondor and Arnor, and marries Arwen. He lives to the age of 210 before passing the crown to his son Aldarion and willingly accepting Ilúvatar's Gift to Men.
|[Not so] Brief Description |
(all quotes are from the main body of LotR unless noted otherwise)
In the FirstAge of Middle Earth, two unions of Eldar and Edain occurred. Beren, a mortal Man, and Lúthien, half elf, half Maia, had a son, Dior. Dior had a daughter, Elwing. Tuor, a lord of the Edain by birth, married Idril, the elven daughter of Turgon in Gondolin. Their son Eärendil married Elwing and had two sons, Elrond and Elros. After Eärendil's embassy to the Valar and the end of the First Age, Eärendil, Elwing, and their sons were allowed to choose to which kindred they would belong. Eärendil and Elwing chose to be counted among the Eldar, but because of their journey to Valinor were not allowed to return to Middle-earth. Elrond chose the life of the Eldar, while Elros chose to become mortal.
As a reward for their help in the wars against Melkor, the Edain were given Númenórë, of which the mortal Elros became king. Twenty generations of Kings of Men passed before the Downfall of Númenor, after which the line of Elros was continued in the realms established in Middle-Earth? by Elendil and his sons, Isildur and Anarion. Elendil's family were Lords of Andúnië, descended from Silmarien, daughter of the fourth king Tar-Elendil.
In Middle-earth, Isildur's line dwindled from Kings of Arnor to Kings of Arthedain to Chieftans of the Dúnedain of the North before the birth of Aragorn II, who restored the majesty and strength of the kings of old, reuniting the Númenorean realms of Gondor and Arnor under his kingship and the long-sundered branches of the Peredhil by his marriage to Elrond's daughter, Arwen. Depending on the number of Lords of Andúnië before Elendil, 64 or 65 generations passed between Elros and Aragorn II.
Aragorn II was the son of Arathorn II son of Arador and Gilraen daughter of Dírhael. This future king of Gondor and Arnor was born on March first, ThirdAge 2931. His father Arathorn was slain by orcs when Aragorn was two years old, leading Gilraen to seek refuge in Imladris. Elrond gave him the name Estel, seeking to conceal the existence of an Heir of Isildur from Sauron. Sauron returned to Mordor and declared himself openly in ThirdAge 2951. In this same year, Aragorn, now twenty years old, returned to Rivendell after 'great deeds' with the sons of Elrond, leading Elrond to reveal to him his name and lineage and give to him the Ring of Barahir and the shards of Narsil. While walking in the woods of Rivendell, Aragorn sees Elrond's daughter Arwen for the first time and mistakes her for Luthien. From that day he loved her, but she, being 2,710 years old to his 20, barely noticed him. At this time Elrond warned Aragorn that he would marry no woman until many years had passed and he had fulfilled his doom or been destroyed by it. Elrond also tells Aragorn he is not worthy of Arwen, and that Arwen must choose to leave Middle Earth when Elrond does or remain and become as a mortal.
Aragorn went out into the Wild, fighting evil wherever it manifested itself. In 2956 he met Gandalf, from whom he learned much. In disguise, he served King Thengel of Rohan and Ecthelion, Steward of Gondor.
"His ways were hard and long, and he became somewhat grim to look upon, unless he chanced to smile; and yet he seemed to Men worthy of honour, as a king that is in exile, when he did not hide his true shape. . . Thus he became at last the most hardy of living Men, skilled in their crafts and lore, and was yet more than they, for he was elven-wise, and there was a light in his eyes that when they were kindled few could endure. His face was sad and stern because of the doom that was laid on him, and yet hope dwelt ever in the depths of his heart, from which mirth would arise at times like a spring from the rock." -- Appendix A, LotR
Not wishing to claim the kingship yet, Aragorn served Ecthelion in disguise, as a captain in the Army of Gondor. He was called Thorongil (eagle of the star) because he was swift and keen-eyed, and wore a silver star upon his cloak. Thorongil counseled Ecthelion not to trust Saruman, and to welcome Gandalf. In this and other matters he disagreed with Denethor son of Ecthelion. Denethor resented his father's trust of Thorongil despite the fact that Thorongil never held himself higher than a servant of Ecthelion. Thorongil also urged the Steward to rid Gondor of the threat of Umbar. Finally convincing Ecthelion, Thorongil gathered a small fleet, attacked Umbar secretly by night and burned many of the ships. He himself overthrew the Captain of the Havens in battle on the quays. After this victory, however, he refused to return to Gondor, sending a message to Ecthelion saying, "Other tasks now call me, lord, and much time and many perils must pass, ere I come again to Gondor, if that be my fate."
In the course of his years of wandering, Aragorn entered Mordor, passed through Moria, and ventured into Harad in the south of Middle-earth.
In ThirdAge 2980, when Gollum met Shelob in CirithUngol and Théoden became King of the Mark, Aragorn returned from the Wild to Lórien. He was 49 years old. "Aragorn had grown to full stature of mind and body, and Galadriel bade him cast aside his wayworn raiment, and she clothed him in silver and white, with a cloak of elven-grey and a bright gem on his brow. Then more than any kind of Man he appeared, and seemed rather an Elf-lord from the Isles of the West, and thus it was that Arwen first beheld him again after their long parting, and as he came walking towards her under the trees of CarasGaladhon laden with flowers of gold, her choice was made and her doom appointed." They plighted their troth on CerinAmroth on Midsummer's Eve, and Aragorn gave Arwen the Ring of Barahir.
Elrond told Aragorn that his daughter would marry no lesser man than the King of Gondor and Arnor, and was grieved to learn of his daughter's choice. Shortly after this time, Aragorn's mother Gilraen dies.
On September 29, 3018, Aragorn meets Frodo and Co. in Bree at the Prancing Pony, where he is known as Strider and mistrusted. We first see him as "a strange, weather-beaten man, sitting in the shadows near the wall. He had a tall tankard in front of him, and was smoking a long-stemmed pipe curiously carved. His legs were stretched out before him, showing high boots of supple leather that fitted him well, but had seen much wear and were now caked with mud. A travel-stained cloak of heavy dark-green cloth was drawn close about him, and in spite of the heat of the room he wore a hood that overshadowed his face; but the gleam of his eyes could be seen as he watched the hobbits."
In response to Sam's suggestion that he might be a spy who killed the real Strider, Aragorn replies, "If I had killed the real Strider, I could kill you. And I should have killed you already without so much talk. If I was after the Ring, I could have it -- NOW!" Here we see the strength that Aragorn concealed under the guise of Strider. "He stood up, and seemed suddenly to grow taller. In his eyes gleamed a light, keen and commanding. Throwing back his cloak, he laid his hand on the hilt of a sword that had hung concealed by his side." This strength, however, is not the whole of Aragorn's character. "But I am the real Strider, fortunately," he said, looking down at them with his face softened by a sudden smile. "I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will."
In Rivendell at the Council of Elrond, we are first introduced to Aragorn son of Arathorn as the heir of Isildur and a rightful King of Men. After listening silently to Boromir's praise of Gondor, Aragorn reveals the purpose of the Rangers of the North. "Lonely men are we, Rangers of the wild, hunters - but hunters ever of the servants of the Enemy; for they are found in many places, not in Mordor only. . . Peace and freedom, do you say? The North would have known them little but for us. Fear would have destroyed them. But when dark things come from the houseless hills, or creep from sunless woods, they fly from us. . . . And yet less thanks have we than you. Travelers scowl at us, and countrymen give us scornful names. 'Strider' am I to one fat man who lives within a day's march of foes that would freeze his heart, or lay his little town in ruin, if he were not guarded ceaselessly. Yet we would not have it otherwise. If simple folk are free from care and fear, simple they will be, and we must be secret to keep them so."
Aragorn recognizes and willingly takes on the task which his fate has laid before him; "But now the world is changing once again. A new hour comes. IsildursBane is found. Battle is at hand. The Sword shall be reforged. I will come to MinasTirith." The shards of Narsil are remade into Andúril, 'Flame of the West'.
Aragorn shows the foresight of his people with his warning to Gandalf to beware should Gandalf enter Moria. Following the fall of Gandalf, Aragorn leads the Fellowship to Lórien, where he receives the Elessar from Galadriel as a token from Arwen.
We first see Aragorn as a king as the company passes the Argonath. "'Fear not!' said a strange voice behind him. Frodo turned and saw Strider, and yet not Strider; for the weatherworn Ranger was no longer there. In the stern sat Aragorn son of Arathorn, proud and erect, guiding the boat with skillful strokes; his hood was cast back, and his dark hair was blowing in the wind, a light was in his eyes: a king returning from exile to his own land."
After the breaking of the Fellowship, Aragorn pursues the orcs who took Merry and Pippin captive with Legolas and Gimli, meeting Éomer on February 30, 3019. Aragorn is more and more taking on the aspect of a King. In the midst of a fully armed company of Rohirrim, Aragorn replies to Éomer's doubt with his battle-cry; "Elendil! I am Aragorn son of Arathorn, and am called Elessar, the Elfstone, Dúnadan, the heir of Isildur Elendil's son of Gondor. Here is the Sword that was Broken and is forged again! Will you aid me or thwart me? Choose swiftly!"
Receiving horses from Éomer, Aragorn tracks the Hobbits into Fangorn, where they meet Gandalf the White on March first, Aragorn's 88th birthday. Here we see him as a Númenorean king: "The grey figure of the Man, Aragorn son of Arathorn, was tall, and stern as stone, his hand upon the hilt of his sword; he looked as if some king out of the mists of the sea had stepped upon the shores of lesser men."
During the battle of Helm's Deep, Aragorn looks out over the great gates defying the enemy before him. So great a power and royalty was revealed in Aragorn, as he stood there alone above the ruined gates before the host of his enemies, that many of the wild men paused, and looked back over their shoulders to the valley, and some looked doubtfully at the sky.
After the battle of Helm's Deep and the destruction of Isengard, Aragorn receives the Palantir of Orthanc from Gandalf for safekeeping, and uses it to challenge Sauron and force him to hasten his plans. Even Gimli has not fully grasped who and what Aragorn is. When Aragorn tells him that he has looked into the Stone of Orthanc, Gimli is fearful that Aragorn might have revealed their plans to Sauron. "You forget to whom you speak," said Aragorn sternly, and his eyes glinted. "What do you fear that I should say to him? . . . Nay, my friends, I am the lawful master of the Stone, and I had both the right and the strength to use it." Such was Aragorn's strength of will that he was able to wrench the Stone from Sauron's grasp after revealing to Sauron the existence of the Heir of Isildur and the reforged blade of Elendil.
After the arrival of the Dúnedain and the sons of Elrond, and perceiving Gondor's dire need in the Palantir, Aragorn takes the Paths of the Dead, saying, "I have no help to send, therefore I must go myself." At the Stone of Erech, he calls upon the Dead Men of Dunharrow to fulfill their oath to Isildur to fight Sauron, and with their help overthrows Pelargir, capturing its fleet. Legolas later recalls, "In that hour I looked on Aragorn and thought how great and terrible a Lord he might have become in the strength of his will, had he taken the Ring to himself. Not for naught does Mordor fear him. But nobler is his spirit than the understanding of Sauron. . ." With this fleet he arrives at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, unfurling the standard of the Kings of Gondor made for him by Arwen and turning the tide of the battle.
"Behold! upon the foremost ship a great standard broke, and the wind displayed it as she turned towards the Harlond. There flowered a WhiteTree, and that was for Gondor; but Seven Stars were about it, and a high crown above it, the signs of Elendil that no lord had borne for years beyond count. And the stars flamed in the sunlight, for they were wrought of gems by Arwen daughter of Elrond; and the crown was bright in the morning, for it was wrought of mithril and gold. Thus came Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elessar, Isildur's heir, out of the Paths of the Dead, borne upon a wind from the Sea to the kingdom of Gondor; and the mirth of the Rohirrim was a torrent of laughter and a flashing of swords, and the joy and wonder of the City was a music of trumpets and a ringing of bells. But the hosts of Mordor were seized with bewilderment, and a great wizardry it seemed to them that their own ships should be filled with their foes; and a black dread fell on them, knowing that the tides of fate had turned against them and their doom was at hand."
Following the battle, his people recognize him as King by his skill in healing. Aragorn refuses, however, to claim the Kingship yet. He leads the Hosts of the West to battle with Mordor in a desperate attempt to buy time for Frodo. "As I have begun, so I will go on. We come now to the very brink, where hope and despair are akin. To waver is to fall. Let none now reject the counsels of Gandalf, whose long labour against Sauron come at last to their test. But for him all would long ago have been lost. Nonetheless I do not yet claim to command any man. Let others choose as they will!" Without laying any claim to his rightful inheritance, Aragorn has earned the allegiance of Gondor, Rohan, and Dol Amroth; the Host of the West marches to Mordor.
On March 25, ThirdAge 3019, while battle rages before the Black Gates, the Ringbearer fulfills his quest, destroying the Ring, Sauron, and the Barad-dur forever.
Aragorn is crowned King of Gondor and Arnor on May first. He is crowned before the gates of MinasTirith, in the manner of his ancestors. "When Aragorn arose all that beheld him gazed in silence, for it seemed to them that he was revealed to them now for the first time. Tall as the sea-kings of old, he stood above all that were near; ancient of days he seemed and yet in the flower of manhood; and wisdom sat upon his brow, and strength and healing were in his hands, and a light was about him."
He marries Arwen on Midsummers Day after finding a sapling of the WhiteTree and planting it anew in MinasTirith. After traveling with the Fellowship a while on their homeward journeys, he takes leave of them. "With that they parted, and it was then the time of sunset; and when after a while they turned and looked back, they saw the King of the West sitting upon his horse with his knights about him; and the falling Sun shone upon them and made all their harness to gleam like red gold, and the white mantle of Aragorn was turned to a flame. Then Aragorn took the green stone and held it up, and there came a green fire from his hand."
King Elessar issued a decree forbidding Men to enter the Shire, and took care to follow this himself.
In the year 120 of the FourthAge, Aragorn laid himself down to die, accepting the Gift of Ilúvatar before his life is forcibly taken by old age, seeing his son Aldarion ready to succeed him. "Then a great beauty was revealed in him, so that all who after came there looked on him in wonder; for they saw that the grace of his youth, and the valour of his manhood, and the wisdom and majesty of his age were blended together. And long there he lay, an image of the splendour of the Kings of Men in glory undimmed before the breaking of the world."
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken:
The crownless again shall be king.
-- poem written by Bilbo about Aragorn
"For not we but those who come after will make the legends of our time."
"One who cannot cast away a treasure in need is in fetters."
What became the character of Aragorn was originally a Hobbit called Trotter, who wore wooden shoes. Tolkien at one time intended to Trotter to be Bilbo or another hobbit known to Frodo in disguise.
|Comments and Discussion |
In Unfinished Tales/The Disaster of the Gladden Fields, Aragorn is said to closely resemble Elendur, Isildur's son who perished in that attack (Aragorn was descended from Valandil, Elendur's younger brother). This resemblance was noted by the few, such as Elrond, who knew both men.
|An Even More Extensive Essay/Analysis |
For a more in-depth profile/essay on Aragorn's life, see the (in progress) essay, Estel to Elessar.
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