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Mithril was a precious, silvery metal, very lightweight but immensely strong, that was discovered and mined by the Dwarves in Khazad-dûm.

Description[]

The wizard Gandalf explained mithril to the Fellowship of the Ring, when passing through the Mines of Moria in TA 3019:

"The wealth of Moria was not in gold or jewels, the toys of the Dwarves; nor in iron, their servant... Its worth was ten times that of gold, and now it is beyond price; for little is left above ground, and even the Orcs dare not delve here for it."'... '"Mithril! All folk desired it. It could be beaten like copper, and polished like glass; and the Dwarves could make of it a metal, light and yet harder than tempered steel. Its beauty was like to that of common silver, but the beauty of Mithril did not tarnish or grow dim."

Mithril

Mithril within the walls of the Mines of Moria

Mithril in its pure form was rather soft and malleable. It could be used in various alloys to produce extremely lightweight, hard and durable armour. It was also used as a type of inlay called ithildin. The Elves loved it for its beauty and presumably used it for jewelry and attire rather than weapons or armour.[citation needed]

History[]

Mithril mine

A mithril mine as depicted in Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring

Mithril was extremely rare by the end of the Third Age, as it was found only in Khazad-dûm. The Dwarves mined for mithril "too greedily and too deep", ultimately releasing a Balrog, Durin's Bane. Once it destroyed the kingdom of the Dwarves at Khazad-dûm, Middle-earth's only source of new Mithril ore was cut off.

Before the Dwarves abandoned Moria, mithril was worth ten times its own volume in gold. However, after the abandonment the excavation of mithril ore stopped entirely, it became priceless, as the presence of the Balrog prevented the Orcs in Moria from mining for it. The only way to obtain a mithril object at the end of the Third Age was to either use heirloom mithril weapons and armour that were produced before the fall of Moria, or to melt down these existing objects to forge new ones. However, most of the mithril produced by the Dwarves before the fall of Moria was gathered by Orcs and paid as tribute to Sauron, who was said to covet it.

The Ñoldor of Eregion discovered how to make an alloy out of it called ithildin ("star moon"), which was often used to decorate gateways and portals, and was visible only by starlight or moonlight. The West-gate of Moria bore inlaid ithildin etchings and runes.

The helmets of the Guard of the Citadel were made of mithril, heirlooms of Gondor's past wealth. After the War of the Ring Minas Tirith's Great Gate was rebuilt by the Dwarves of Aglarond out of mithril and steel.

While Moria was the only known source of mithril, there are inconclusive indications that it may also have been found in Númenor and Aman in smaller quantities.[citation needed]

The mithril coat[]

See main article: "Bilbo's Mithril shirt"

"That spear-thrust would have skewered a wild boar!"
Aragorn, after seeing that the coat had blocked a spear wielded by a Cave Troll, in Moria

Of all items made of mithril, the most famous is the "small shirt of mail" retrieved from the hoard of the dragon Smaug, and given to Bilbo Baggins by Thorin Oakenshield. "It was close-woven of many rings, as supple almost as linen, cold as ice, and harder than steel..." and studded with white gems of unknown variety.

Durin's door

Durin's door

Other mentions in Tolkien's works[]

Etymology[]

The name mithril came from two words in Sindarinmith, meaning "grey", and ril meaning "glitter". Mithril was also called "true-silver" by Men or 'Moria-silver' while the Dwarves had their own, secret name for it.[1]

Other precious metals and minerals[]

Real world[]

Textual inspiration[]

In the Hervarar saga, which was a cycle dealing with the magic sword Tyrfing (and from which Tolkien borrowed, for instance, the names Dwalin and Durin), the hero Orvar-Odd wore a silken mailcoat which nothing could pierce (Oddr svarar: "ek vil berjask við Angantýr, hann mun gefa stór högg með Tyrfingi, en ek trúi betr skyrtu minni, enn brynju þinni, til hlífðar").

Contemporary inspiration[]

For the literal-minded reader, it is unclear whether or not mithril is a real metal; many have thought it to be platinum, or iridium however, both are far too heavy to qualify as candidates. It is possible that this legendary material was modeled after titanium, as this metal, while actually quite abundant as ore, was very expensive to produce in its metallic form (especially by medieval technology), and has some of mithril's properties of strength, bright silvery color, corrosion resistance, and light weight. Other possibilities are aluminium, or magnesium; these metals are even lighter than titanium, but not as strong or as silvery and shiny. (Famously, Napoleon III of France once bought dinnerware made out of aluminium because it was more expensive than gold at the time.) Certainly Tolkien, being highly educated, would have had knowledge of these three metals and the difficulty in preparing them.

In adaptations[]

Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy[]

"Here's a pretty thing...light as a feather, and hard as dragon's scales."
Bilbo Baggins (Peter Jackson Movie Trilogy)

In Peter Jackson's film adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo was stabbed by a boar spear wielded by a Cave-troll rather than an Orc-chieftain.

While it is never explicitly stated where the mithril shirt originally came from, in the extended edition, Gandalf tells the Fellowship that Bilbo had a set of mithril rings given to him by Thorin. Gimli states that it was a kingly gift and Gandalf agrees but admits he never told Bilbo exactly how valuable the rings were.

Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy[]

In The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Thorin gives Bilbo the mithril vest while the Dwarves are arming themselves for the upcoming battle, stating that it is a gift and a token of their friendship. Thorin states that it is made of silver-steel but does not mention its value or rarity.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power[]

Durin reveals mithril fragment - TRoP

Durin reveals to Elrond a mithril fragment

In the first season of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, it is said that Disa, wife of Durin IV, discovered mithril during a routine mining operation. Durin is reluctant to reveal anything about the discovery, but relents when Elrond finds his way into the old mine underneath Kheled-zâram where the new ore is being excavated. As a token of their friendship, Durin gives a small fragment to Elrond, who gives the metal its name - mithril.[2]

Afterwards, Elrond recounts an apocryphal tale called The Song of the Roots of Hithaeglir. This song claims the origin of mithril to be when an Elf-warrior and a Balrog fought over a certain tree in the Misty Mountains that contained the light of the last Silmaril. It was then that lightning struck the tree, sending out tendrils of ore into the roots of the mountains beneath. Gil-galad and Celebrimbor believe this tale to be true, and furthermore, that the remnants of the Silmaril's light in mithril could save the Elven race from fading and being forced to return to Valinor.

Video games[]

In the game The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest, mithril is three lore items, and the rarest currency is a Mithril bar, worth a hundred silver coins, while in the game MUME ("Multi-Users in Middle-earth") several legendary items are made from mithril, including the best armour available in the game, which can be found in Moria, some of which requires a group to defeat the Balrog (Durin's Bane) to obtain the key to its treasury.

In other media[]

Mithril, or similarly spelled names, has been used in other fictional contexts as a strong and semi-magical metal, due to the fact that the Tolkien Estate did not trademark the term. Examples include:

  • In the Computer RPG series known as The Elder Scrolls, mithril is a kind of armour.
  • Within Bored of the Rings (a Lord of the Rings parody), objects are made of cheap "Mithril plate" rather than solid Mithril.
  • In the Role-Playing Game Dungeons & Dragons, mithral is one of the special materials used to make high-quality or magical items.
  • In the computer game HeXen II, there is a Mithril wall underwater that must be transformed into wood via a spell in order to proceed in the game.
  • In the video game RPG series Final Fantasy, Mythril is a material for shields, weapons, armour, helmets and so on. This equipment is usually found in the early or middle portions of the game.
  • In the computer game ADOM, mithril is a type of metal, one of the strongest.
  • The computer game Princess Maker 2 has a character who wears mithril armor when she fences.
  • The computer game Simon the Sorcerer features Milrith.
  • In the computer game Age of Mythology, mithril is a special armor type.
  • In the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game Kings of Chaos, mithril is a defence weapon for humans.
  • In the MMORPG Everquest, mithril is a metal that can make weapons, armor, and other equipment.
  • In the MMORPG RuneScape, mithril is a dark blue metal that can be mined, made into bars, and then forged into various weapons and armor. While it is one of the weaker metals in the game (the third strongest without membership subscription), it is stronger than steel. It also appears to be lighter than other metal armors in the game, possibly as a reference to Tolkien. Unlike its appearance in Tolkien's works, mithril is not priceless.
  • The MMORPG The Realm Online features Mythril as a strong, light-weight metal green in color used to make quality weapons and armor.
  • In the MMORPG World of Warcraft, (and other games in the Warcraft series) mithril is used to make weapons, armor, and gadgets.
  • In the video game Kingdom Hearts, mithril is a rare material used for "synthesis" in high-level items.
  • In the sci-fi/fantasy anime series Hyper Police, it is possible to buy or make "mithril-tip" bullets.
  • In the anime series Full Metal Panic!, mithril is a mercenary organization. In the second series, the origin of the name is explained as a reference to The Lord of the Rings.
  • In the roguelike IVAN, mithril is a rather strong and valuable metal.
  • In the GameBoy Advance game Shining Soul, mithril can be forged with other materials to make valuable weapons, accessories, and armor.
  • In the PlayStation game Star Ocean: The Second Story, mithril is a rare metal that can be used for blacksmithing and for customization of weapons.
  • In the video game Breath of Fire, some armors are made out of the legendary metal mithril.
  • In the video game Chrono Cross, Mythril is a component that can be used in forging new weapons, armor and accessories.
  • The name of a Celtic/World music quartet - Mithril (band).
  • In the video game Tales of Symphonia "mythril" is used to customize many late game weapons, shields, and other items to equip to characters.
  • Mithril is a wearble computer system being developed at the MIT Media Lab.
  • In the video games Harvest Moon:Back to Nature for the PlayStation and Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town for the GameBoy Advance, mystril, a take-off of mithril, is a rare mineral found while mining.
  • In the video game Shining in the Darkness, lumbs of mithril ore can be found and forged into some of the strongest weapons and armor available.
  • In the PC/Xbox 360 game Lord of the Rings: The Battle For Middle-earth II, Mithril Mail is an armor upgrade available to Dwarven forces.
  • In the MMORPG Lineage 2, there is a mithril armor set.
  • In the video game Terraria, Mythril is material for making weapons and armor.
  • In the video game Xenoblade Chronicles players can find and equip Mithril Gear.
  • In the video game Patapon 2, Mithril (Mytheerial) is a rare metal dropped from fighting dragon bosses (Dodonga). "This magical metal is the lightest and sturdiest of all. It is used to forge divine tools of war."
  • In the D&D-inspired Nodwick comic, mithril has been a very cheap metal for a long time--bottle caps have been made from it since time immemorial.
  • In the computer game ROBLOX, a game, Epic Mining 2, has mithril as its rarest mineral. It is found in the underworld. It may also be smelted into Mithril Bars that cost even more money.
  • In another ROBLOX game, Survival 303, mithril is a collectable mineral which can be created into powerful weapons and armor.
  • In the Minecraft server, Hypixel, Mithril is a mineable dwarven material in the game Skyblock.


Translations[]

Foreign Language Translated name
Amharic ሚጥይሪሎ
Arabic ميتهريل
Armenian Միտհրիլ
Belarusian Cyrillic Міфрыл
Bengali মিথ্রিল
Bosnian Mitril
Bulgarian Cyrillic Митрил
Burmese မိထ္ရိလ္
Chinese 秘銀
Georgian მითჰრილ
Greek Μιθριλ
Gujarati મિથ્રિલ
Hebrew מיתריל
Hindi मिथ्रिल
Japanese ミスリル
Kannada ಮಿಥ್ರಿಲ್
Kazakh Мітріл (Cyrillic) Mitril (Latin)
Korean 미스릴
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Митрил
Macedonian Cyrillic Митрил
Marathi मिथ्रिल
Mongolian Cyrillic Митрил
Nepalese मिथ्रिल
Pashto مِتهرِل ?
Persian میتریل
Punjabi ਮਿਥ੍ਰਿਲ
Russian Мифрил
Sanskrit मिथ्रिल्
Serbian Митрил (Cyrillic) Mitril (Latin)
Sinhalese මිථ්‍රිල්
Tajik Cyrillic Митҳрил
Tamil மித்ஹ்ரில்
Telugu మిథ్రిల
Thai มิธริล
Ukrainian Cyrillic Мітріл
Urdu ماٹہرال
Uzbek Митҳрил (Cyrillic) Mithril (Latin)
Yiddish מיטהריל
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Locations: Middle-earth · Gondor · Mordor · Rohan
Other: Mithril · Middle-earth Strategy Battle Game · The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings · Works inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien · The Lord of the Rings · The Lord of the Rings (1978 film) · Ainulindalë · Tolkien vs. Jackson · Tengwar · Quenya

References[]

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