- "I will give you a name... and I shall call you Sting."
- —Bilbo Baggins
Sting was an Elven short-sword made in Gondolin during the First Age. Bilbo Baggins discovered Sting in the year TA 2941 in a troll-hoard, and used it during the Quest of Erebor. He later passed it to his heir Frodo Baggins.
Though just a dagger by standard of elves, Sting made a perfect short-sword for a Hobbit, although it was still rather small. Bilbo initially chose to wear it "inside his breeches" and was still able to travel and even run without any apparent inconvenience.
Sting was like Glamdring and Orcrist in that "being the work of Elvish smiths in the Elder Days these swords shone with a cold light, if any Orcs were near at hand." But only Sting was definitively described as glowing blue, or glittering with blue flame at its edges.
As fitting of a blade of Gondolin, Sting could easily cut through the webs of the offspring of Ungoliant, including the evil Shelob and the spiders of Mirkwood.
What happened to the blade following the Fall of Gondolin is unknown, but by the late Third Age it came to be in the possession of three trolls dwelling in eastern Eriador. It was here, in the year TA 2941, that Bilbo and his dwarven companions found Sting alongside the elven blades Glamdring and Orcrist. When rescuing Thorin and Company from the giant spiders of Mirkwood, Bilbo was inspired to give the sword its name after cutting himself free from a cocoon and slaying the spider guarding him.
Just before his nephew embarked on his quest to Mordor from Rivendell, Bilbo gave Sting to Frodo. Sam then took the weapon from his (seemingly dead) master and used it to good effect against Shelob on the borders of Mordor. After the defeat of Sauron at the end of the Third Age, Frodo entrusted Sting to Sam and it became an heirloom of the Gamgee family.
Gollum, who disliked anything made by the Elves, was afraid of Sting. This fear aided Bilbo when he confronted Gollum in the cave at the base of the Misty Mountains in The Hobbit. It also helped Frodo and Sam subdue Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. Orcs also had an instinctive fear of these weapons and hated any who carried them.
Following Frodo's departure to the Undying Lands it is unknown whether he took Sting with him or left it to Sam, like he did with the Red Book, in which case it would have landed in the possession of the Fairbairns.
Portrayal in adaptations
Peter Jackson's trilogies
In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Gandalf uncovers the blade on the floor of the cave as he was about to leave and gives it to Bilbo, who is waiting outside. Sting is depicted as vaguely leaf-shaped, with a spiral design and gently curving edges (much like a Greek xiphos), such as Tolkien described in his book. In The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, engraved on the blade are Sindarin letters that read phonetically, Maegnas aen estar nin dagnir in yngyl im. Translated they read, Sting is my name; I am the spider's bane. According to the appendix of The Silmarillion, the element maeg in Sindarin means 'sharp' or 'piercing', and the Etymologies section of The Lost Road and Other Writings gives the meaning of the element nass as 'point', so "Maegnas" is literally translated as "sharp-point".
In the books there is no mention that Bilbo had the blade inscribed, and the inscription is not present in the The Hobbit adaptation, but after Bilbo named the blade Sting he could have had it inscribed by the elves during the story of The Hobbit or after, or the elves could have inscribed it for him after he returned to live in Rivendell. This seems likely since the engraving is in Sindarin and the elves obviously would have had the best experience in reshaping a blade such as Sting.
Despite both Glamdring and Orcrist being elvish blades of similar make, Sting is the only blade shown to glow blue in the The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films.
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||刺針|
|Kazakh||Стинг (Cyrillic) Stïng (Latin)|
|Kyrgyz Cyrillic||чагып алуу|
|Portuguese||Ferroada (Brazil) Ferrão (Portugal)|
|Serbian||убод (Cyrillic) Ubod (Latin)|
|Spanish (Spain and Latin America)||Dardo|
|Uzbek||Стинг (Cyrillic) Caqmoq (Latin)|
|Barrow-blades • Sting|
|Durin's Axe • Orcrist|
|Grond • Grond (Warhammer) • Morgul-knife|
|Aeglos • Anglachel • Anguirel • Angrist • Aranrúth • Belthronding • Dailir • Glamdring • Orcrist • Ringil|
|Andúril • Black Arrow • Dagmor • Dramborleg • Gúthwinë • Gurthang • Herugrim • Narsil • Red Arrow|
- Replica from BladeCenter.com