It is said that Melkor was reluctant to come out of Angband to face him regardless of the taunts Fingolfin shouted outside the gates. But after a while he came out and dueled and killed Fingolfin, who in turn gave him mortal wounds that crippled him forever.

Why would a powerful being such as Melkor not want to fight an Elf - a mere Elf in the eyes of a Dark Lord?

Also it's worth mentioning that the Orcs of Angband did not sing in victory of the defeat of Fingolfin nor Elves grieve for the loss of their King for the loss was a horrid one.

  • 4
    Because you're so scary, Fingolfin!
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 9, 2016 at 22:44
  • 5
    Since this question concerns events just before your own death, I hope it won't be your last question here!
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 10, 2016 at 1:15
  • 1
    I suppose there is a lost passage that goes something like this: "And so, Morgoth looked from the walls of Angband, but he saw no Elf nor Man, but only a pair of huge cojones. Then Morgoth knew, that he shall not escape this battle unscathed and his pants became wet." Dec 13, 2017 at 11:41

3 Answers 3


From Morgoth's Ring, Volume 10 of History of Middle-Earth (emphasis mine):

To gain domination over Arda, Morgoth had let most of his being pass into the physical constituents of the Earth — hence all things that were born on Earth, and lived on and by it, beasts or plants or incarnate spirits, were liable to be "stained". Morgoth at the time of the War of the Jewels had become permanently "incarnate"; for this reason he was afraid, and waged the war almost entirely by means of devices, or of subordinates and dominated creatures.

It's not directly related to the passage you mention with Fingolfin, but it does give a reason for Morgoth's fear in general. I think that's the best answer you're going to get in Tolkien's own words.

For completeness, I'll note that the passage you're talking about with Fingolfin and Morgoth is slightly ambiguous. Here it is from the Silmarillion (emphasis mine):

Thus he came alone to Angband's gates, and he sounded his horn, and smote once more upon the brazen doors, and challenged Morgoth to come forth to single combat. And Morgoth came.

That was the last time in those wars that he passed the doors of his stronghold, and it is said that he took not the challenge willingly; for though his might was greatest of all things in this world, alone of the Valar he knew fear. But he could not now deny the challenge before the face of his captains; for the rocks rang with the shrill music of Fingolfin's horn, and his voice came keen and clear down into the depths of Angband; and Fingolfin named Morgoth craven, and lord of slaves.

Doesn't technically say he was afraid of Fingolfin, only that he "knew fear" in general. And the "it is said" is slightly mealy-mouthed: said by whom? (Although that does often tend to be Tolkien's way of writing - he keeps up the conceit that he's only reporting events rather than making it all up.)


Because Fingolfin was the High King of the Noldor and a very powerful Elf that could do some damage to Morgorh.

For the record, Melkor is the more powerful version of Morgoth just so you know.


It's a simple misrepresentation or, duality, that requires more research.

See the works that his son has published from his father's library..Morgoth's ring and others, which I'd say are more academic and I liked very much, Melkor, what goes through the mid of an almost omnipotent being with a natural fascination and attunement for atoms and energy. A being that is in his primal state shifting moons in their orbit and altering tectonic masses. He just did not SEE that flower that got vaporized. He was looking at atomic mass and energy of the particles that made Arda, and when he realised he could not dominate each and every single atom in Arda. He lost it.

Ultimately, if the elves hadn't kept him busy, he would have tried to negate Arda, instead, he became vulnerable to Fingolfin, because, there was a bigger picture going on, Melkor, was instead, putting his power into corrupting every single atom in creation, he had gone insane in a way and was spending himself to corrupt everything inside Arda. that's where his loss of force went and where his vulnerability was. The atomic matter of Arda, had a MELKOR COMPONENT. Stunning revelation and thought to me, a part of his force went into all the atoms in Arda.

  • 2
    This appears to be incoherent gibberish. Did you write it in another language and use Google Translate?
    – Valorum
    Dec 25, 2016 at 23:57
  • @Valorum- Though this could be better explained, and some of it may not have a basis in canon, it definitely makes sense. It seems to be referring to the (true) idea that Morgoth made all of Arda his ring, thus pouring a portion of his power into it. This post suggests that doing so weakened him to the point where Fingolfin could contend with him (if the elves hadn’t kept him busy, he would have tried to negate Arda, instead, he became vulnerable to Fingolfin, because, there was a bigger picture going on, Melkor, was instead, putting his power into corrupting every single atom in creation).
    – Adamant
    Dec 26, 2016 at 4:01

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