The One Wiki to Rule Them All
The One Wiki to Rule Them All

Ungoliant (Sindarin; IPA: [uŋˈɡoljant]) was a primordial taking the shape of a gigantic spider. She was initially an ally of Melkor in Aman, and for a short time in Middle-earth as well. She was a distant mother of Shelob, and the oldest and first giant spider of Arda.



Ungoliant and the Two Trees

Ungoliant and the Two Trees, by Ted Nasmith

The true origin of Ungoliant was unknown, even to the Valar. It was said that she descended from the Darkness that lay about Arda and was once an ally of Melkor when he looked down upon the world with envy. Considering that the Ainur passed through the Void while venturing from the Timeless Halls to Arda, it is likely she was simply a powerful Ainu in the form of a spider, or a being from the Void itself.[1]

Early years[]

When Melkor was defeated and imprisoned by the Lords of the West after the first Elves awoke in Cuiviénen, Ungoliant escaped the attacks of the Valar and the hunters of Oromë and fled to the southern part of Aman. There, in a ravine south of the mountain Hyarmentir, she established her dark abode and took the physical form of a monstrous spider, and craved and sucked up all light she could find. After each feeding, she spun dark webs of gloom that strangled all passing light.[1]

Alliance with Melkor[]

Eventually, Melkor sought out Ungoliant in order to exact his revenge against the Valar and the Elves. He came to her in Avathar and told her of his plans. Though she was tempted greatly by Melkor's plan for her to drink the light of the Two Trees of Valinor, she feared the power of the Valar and was hesitant to accompany him. To mollify her, Melkor offered to sate her hunger with whatever she wished if she would aid him. She agreed, and they came shortly thereafter to Ezellohar, where she drained the Trees of their sap, poisoned them, and drank the Wells of Varda dry. The Unlight produced by Ungoliant stymied the pursuit of Oromë and Tulkas, and Melkor escaped to Middle-earth with her. However, her consumption of power of the Trees and the Wells caused her to swell to a size and shape so vast and hideous that even Melkor began to grow afraid.[1]


Ungoliant attacks Morgoth

Balrogs vs Ungoliant

Balrogs of Morgoth attack Ungoliant

When they arrived in Lammoth in Middle-earth, Melkor, now known as Morgoth, hoped to escape to the ruins of Angband where the remnants of his forces awaited him. Suspecting that he intended to leave his promise to her unfulfilled, Ungoliant demanded the gems that Morgoth had stolen from Formenos before they could reach Angband. She devoured them, and grew to an even more monstrous size. She then demanded that Morgoth surrender to her the Silmarils. However, Morgoth refused, and she attacked him. Weaving her dark webs, she attempted to enmesh him in her nets and take the Silmarils by force. Morgoth gave out a terrible cry of pain as she attacked, which was heard by the Balrogs hibernating under the ruins of Angband. They awoke and immediately rushed to the aid of their Lord, tearing apart Ungoliant's webbing with their fiery whips and forcing her to break off her attack. She fled, and the Balrogs prepared to pursue and destroy her, but they were checked by Morgoth, who ordered them to return with him to Angband. Ungoliant's attack on Morgoth left an echoing scream ever after on the land, giving the area the name Lammoth, where it was said that any clamor would echo back from surrounding hills with his voice.[2]

Final years & legacy[]

Driven off by the Balrogs, Ungoliant fled to Ered Gorgoroth where she bred with the Great Spiders that dwelt there, increasing the terror and power of her kind. The creatures that later infested the nearby Nan Dungortheb were her surviving offspring and descendants,[2] including Shelob who dwelt from the Second and Third Ages onwards on the borders of Mordor, as her last surviving child.[3] It is said that Ungoliant ultimately perished at her own hands when, in her ever-growing hunger, she eventually devoured herself.[2]


The origins of Ungoliant are unspecified, except that she had been a spirit, entering Arda and taking the form of a giant spider. As a spirit being, she would only be perceptible to those that could perceive spirits and the spirit world. It is implied that her spirit form was one of pure darkness, reflected in her physical form. Since the Valar, Maiar, and other spirits in the physical world freely took on forms that reflected their nature, Ungoliant's terrifying and monstrous form did the same. While her form was described as being that of a giant spider, and she is credited as the "first" giant spider, the narrative indicates that, much like her descendant Shelob, she had many features that distinguished her from the common form of a spider.


The Sindarin name Ungoliant in Quenya is Ungweliantë, meaning "Dark Spider" from ungwë ("dark") and liantë ("spider").[4]

The Eldar called her Virilomë (Wirilomë in Vanyarin Quenya) or Gloomweaver.[5] In Sindarin, this name is translated into Gwerlum.[6]

Other versions[]

In the state of the mythology in 1916, when J.R.R. Tolkien had gone to serve in the First World War, the first precursor to Ungoliant was Ungwë-Tuita, the 'Spider of Night', who once was close to ensnaring Eärendil, and dwelt in Ruamorë.[7] Even earlier, before the The Book of Lost Tales, she was called Gungliont. After helping Melkor destroy the Two Trees, she left, instead of attracting Melkor as in earlier versions.



Foreign Language Translated name
Amharic ዑንጎሊኣንት
Arabic أونقوليانت
Armenian Ունգոլիանտ
Assamese অংগোলিয়েন্ট
Belarusian Cyrillic Унголіянт
Bengali উন্গলিয়ান্ট
Bulgarian Cyrillic Унголиант
Catalan Ungòliant
Chinese 昂哥立安
Georgian უნგოლიანთი
Greek Ουνγκόλιαντ
Gujarati ઊઙોલિઅન્ત
Hebrew אונגוליאנט
Hindi ऊङोलिअन्त
Japanese ウンゴリアント
Kannada ಉಂಗೋಲಿಂಟ್
Kazakh Ұнголіант (Cyrillic) Ungoliant (Latin)
Konkani अनगोलिअंट
Korean 웅골리안트
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Унголиант
Laotian ູງໂລິະນຕ
Macedonian Cyrillic Унголиант
Maithili अनगोलिअन्ट
Marathi ऊङ्गोलिअन्त
Mongolian Cyrillic Унголиант
Nepalese ऊङोलिअन्त
Norwegian Ungolianth
Persian اونگولیانت
Polish Ungolianta
Punjabi ਅਨਗਲਾਇੰਗਿਕ
Russian Унголиант
Sanskrit ऊङोलिअन्त्
Serbian Унголијант (Cyrillic) Ungolijant (Latin)
Sinhalese ඌඞොලිඅන්ත්
Tajik Cyrillic Унголиант
Tamil ஊஙொலிஅந்த்
Telugu ఊఙొలిఅన్త
Thai อุงโกลิอันท์
Ukrainian Cyrillic Унґоліанта
Urdu ونگولیانت
Uzbek Унголиант (Cyrillic) Ungoliant (Latin)
Yiddish ונגאָליאַנט