We have a fairly specific idea of what vampires and werewolves are in our society. Vampires are cursed with the need to drink blood and immortality, werewolves are cursed with changing into a huge man-wolf during the full moon.

Recalling Sauron's shape-shifting showdown with Lúthien and Huan in the Silmarillion, this does not seem to match up.

[Sauron] took it upon himself the form of a werewolf, and made himself mightiest that had yet walked the world; and he came forth to win the passage of the bridge.

and when Huan released him

... immediately he took the form of a vampire, great as a dark cloud across the moon, and fled dripping blood from his throat upon the trees, and came to Taur-nu-Fuin, and dwelt there, filling it with horror.

I suppose (and seem to recall) that a werewolf might just be an evil spirit in the form of a giant wolf, but what on earth (Arda?) would a vampire be in this context? This is assuming that it would not be somehow beneficial for the already immortal Sauron to have a mandatory diet of blood. ;)


1 Answer 1


From what I have found, the consensus does seem to be that werewolves are large wolves that have been inhabited by an evil spirit. The first werewolf was Draugluin, and was killed just before Sauron pulled his shape-shifting trick. His name means "blue wolf".

Further supporting the werewolf as wolf theory, Huan could only be killed by the greatest wolf to ever live, and Carcharoth the werewolf killed him. Of him this was said in the Silmarillion:

[Morgoth] chose one from the race of Draugluin; and fed him with his own hand upon living flesh. Swiftly the wolf grew, until he could creep into no den, but lay huge and hungry before the feet of Morgoth. There the fire and anguish of hell entered into him, and he became filled with a devouring spirit, tormented, terrible, and strong.

Lúthien disguised herself as Thuringwethil, a "bat-like creature" with "creased wings" and a "bat" that "wheeled and flittered".

I have not found anywhere in the book where it specifically describes her as a vampire, but it would fit well with the theme of normal creature inhabited by an evil spirit theme.

Edit: I found it.

[Thuringwethil] was the messenger of Sauron, and was wont to fly in vampire's form to Angband; and her great fingered wings were barbed at each joint's end with an iron claw.

  • 2
    So, it sounds as if what JRRT called a "vampire" in these passages is simply a (very large) bat. Real-world discovery of the vampire bat in the New World in the 15th century may have conflated into existing myths of nosferatu to give vampires their bat shape, so this fits very well with Tolkien's incorporation of bits and pieces of myth into Middle Earth.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 12:28
  • I do not believe that werewolves that looked like bipedal wolves with other human-like features (hands instead of paws and human-like limbs) was consistent with mythology -- in the myths, they were simply wolves. It was Hollywood or maybe the UK's equivalent that gave us the modern werewolf which is much scarier to me than a wolf -- there was a time when both wolves and bears were plenty scary to people without looking supernatural. Before reliable firearms, attacks by these predators on humans were relatively common.
    – releseabe
    Commented Jun 9 at 8:57

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