Mandos was an Ainu, one of the Aratar, and a Vala who was responsible for the judgement of the Spirits (or Fëa) of all Elven dead. He also had responsibility for pronouncing the dooms and judgments of Eru Ilúvatar under Manwë. His real name was Námo, but was later known to the Elves as Mandos after his sacred Halls of Mandos, over which he presided, and where Elves would go when slain.
It was he who pronounced Manwë's Doom concerning the espousals of the Eldar in YT 1172, when Finwë asked counsel for a second marriage after the death of his wife and her passing to the Halls of Mandos.
When Melkor began marring Arda before the coming of the Elves, Tulkas arrived and wanted to make war swiftly. At the bidding of Manwë, Mandos pronounced the doom of the Firstborn. After the captivity of Melkor, Mandos had once again pronounced the Doom. Melkor spent three Ages in the duress of Mandos thereafter, guarded by his hound Gorgumoth in Lumbi. Mandos judged Fëanor to leave Tirion for twelve years after Fëanor's drawing of his sword against Fingolfin. After the destruction of the Two Trees, Yavanna asked for the light of the Silmarils, which Fëanor denied and he shall be slain, the first in Aman; but Mandos had spoken and revealed that Finwë was the first, having been slain at the steps of Formenos by Melkor. When the Ñoldor revolted against the Valar, Mandos appeared before them and pronounced the Doom of the Ñoldor.
Finwë, the first to be slain in Aman, then approached Mandos in his halls and begged for his wife Miriel to return to life. In exchange Finwë could never be reincarnated like other elves, and had to remain in The Halls of Awaiting forever. Mandos granted Finwë his wish.
Only once was Mandos moved to pity, when Lúthien sang of the grief she and her lover Beren had experienced in Beleriand. Then, with the Elder King's approval, he released them to Middle-earth to begin their second life there as mortal beings with no certitude of life.
When Eärendil arrived in Aman to beg for assistance from the Valar, Mandos considered Eärendil and Elwing's fate as Half-elven and gave them and their descendants a choice: to be counted among either Elves or Men.
Mandos, upon appearing before the Ñoldor, was referred to be a dark figure with a loud voice, solemn and terrible.
He was described as being stern, dispassionate and never forgetting a thing. He was the Vala who cursed the Ñoldor leaving Aman, and counselled against allowing them to return. But unlike Morgoth, his Dooms are not cruel or vindictive by his own design. They are simply the will of Eru, and he will not speak them unless he is commanded to do so by Manwë.
His common name Mandos means "Prison-fortress". It stems from Mandost ("castle of custody") or mbando ("custody") and osto ("fortified building or place").
His real name, Námo, means "Ordainer" or "Judge" in Quenya.
The Old English translation for Mandos is Nefrea "Corpse-ruler" from neo ("corpse") and frea ("lord"). His title is Neoaerna hlaford ("Master of the houses of the dead"). He was also called Morimando, the "Dark Mando", as opposed to Manwë's Kalamando, the "Light Mando".
In Tolkien's earlier work, Mandos was named Vefantur.
Other versions of the legendarium
As Vefantur, his wife was Fui Nienna and together they were called the "Gods of Death". Their halls were located beneath the roots of the Mountains of Valinor.
Mandos shares many characteristics with Hades from Greek Mythology.
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||曼督斯|
|Kazakh||Мандос (Cyrillic) Mandos (Latin)|
|Serbian||мандос (Cyrillic) Mandos (Latin)|
|Uzbek||Мандос (Cyrillic) Mandos (Latin)|