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Ungoliant was a great dark spirit from before the First Age of the world, when the Ainur first descended to Arda. She is the foremother of Shelob and the Great Spiders. There is some debate over what exactly Ungoliant is, though in The Silmarillion she is believed to be one of the spirits Morgoth first drew to his service, later divesting herself of his leadership and dwelling alone in a ravine south of Valinor. Ungoliant was a creature of insatiable hunger, and fed especially on light, returning it as webs of shadow.

Morgoth came to her at the end of the Years of the Trees and convinced her to go with him into Valinor and dare the wrath of the Valar. Ungoliant agreed, cloaking them both in darkness so deep none could see within it, and they came to the Two Trees, Laurelin and Telperion, unattended on a day of festival in Valinor. They killed the trees and Ungoliant fed on their light and grew to great size, enough to put fear even in Morgoth. Ungoliant put forth heavy darkness that covered all of Valinor and she and Morgoth fled to the north, where Morgoth slew Finwë, King of the Ñoldor, and stole many of the jewels held in his treasury, including the Silmarils of Fëanor.

Returning from the Undying Lands, Ungoliant swallowed all the jewels of the Noldor but the Silmarils. Morgoth sought to keep these for himself, but Ungoliant had grown great enough to bind Morgoth and take the gems by force, and would have if the Belryg nearby had not come to their master's aid. Morgoth returned to his stronghold and Ungoliant fled. In time she left for the far south of the world, and though her fate isn't known for certain, it's said that she devoured herself at last in her endless hunger.


Dates: No certain dates are known. Ungoliant was certainly very ancient; she disappeared into the distant south in or shortly before the First Age
Race: Apparently an ancient spirit
Pronunciation: oongo'lee-ant
Meaning: 'Gloomweaver'
The evil creature of spider-form who was Morgoth's accomplice in the destruction of the Two Trees, and who fled with him to Middle-earth. The creatures that infested the Mountains of Terror were her offspring and descendants, as was Shelob who dwelt on the borders of Mordor.
Ungoliant's ultimate fate is unknown, but some sources suggest that in utter starvation she consumed herself.
Ultimately from ungwë liante. 'Gloomweaver' is Tolkien's preferred rendering, but 'Gloom spider' seems to be a more literal translation. In Elvish, 'weaver' and 'spider' are closely related words, and in English too: 'spider', 'spindle' and 'spinner' all share a common ancestry.