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I'm looking for a definitive list of all of the prophecies* that have been made within the world of The Lord of the Rings.

The only one I can think of (off the top of my head) is when Glorfindel 2.0 famously foretold that the Witch King would not die by the hands of a man:

Do not pursue him! He will not return to this land. Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man will he fall.
-The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers, I: The Númenórean Kings, (iv): "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"

I know there must be more!

What are all of the prophecies made in Tolkien's Middle-Earth stories?

Please include all prophecies from:

  • The Hobbit,
  • The Lord of the Rings Series and
  • The Silmarillion

Bonus points for completeness:

  • Character who made the prophecy
  • Circumstance around which the prophecy was made
  • The meaning/reason for the prophecy
  • Whether the prophecy was fulfilled

* that has been confirmed to have been a prophecy, and not just someone saying "I'm going to kill you", or whatever.
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  • 2
    There's a whole bunch of dreams and stuff that sorta count.
    – ibid
    Jan 28 at 23:13
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    There were a bunch of them, weren't there? Like Isildur's heir, the Doom of Mandos, etc. The problem will be which are strictly part of the legendarium you're asking about.
    – DavidW
    Jan 28 at 23:17
  • @ibid If they're prophetic, go for it!
    – Möoz
    Jan 29 at 1:40
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    @Möoz - The scope is fairly broad. I've already gotten nine from just The Hobbit alone. Arguably many of them are just "predictions", but I think the line is often pretty blurred.
    – ibid
    Jan 29 at 5:22
  • 1
    One take of this would be to first attempt to list all characters that's explicitly (by Tolkien) said to have the gift of foretelling the future. There's a whole bunch of those (to begin with, most of Valar and many Maiar). Then scrutinize everything those characters might have said. Even then there's a couple of gray areas such as Gandalf the Gray (pun intended). He's not explicitly said to have such gifts yet he makes a couple of statements regarding Gollum and the hobbits that prove correct in the end.
    – Amarth
    Jan 31 at 16:35

6 Answers 6

22

I'm going to have a stab, although I make no promises about completeness. All the below prophecies were made at times of stress and all came true.

Hobbit: none that I can recall

LOTR: Boromir's dream, "Seek for the sword that was broken, In Imladris it dwells. There shall be counsels taken, Stronger than Morgul spells." (Go to Rivendell and all will be revealed)

LOTR: Aragorn to Eomer on the Pelennor: "Thus we meet again, though all the hosts of Mordor lay between us. Did I not say so at the Hornburg?" Eomer: "So you spoke, but hope oft deceives, and I knew not then that you were a man foresighted." (Before he took the paths of the dead, Aragorn had told Eomer they would meet again. Whether this is prophecy or hopeful optimism is open to interpretation. I've included it as the text elsewhere says that Aragorn is foresighted. See below.)

LOTR: Halbarad, before the Door of the Dead: "This is an evil door, and my death lies beyond it. I will dare to pass it, nonetheless." (He dies)

LOTR: “Thus spoke Malbeth the Seer, in the days of Arvedui, last king at Fornost,’ said Aragorn:

"Over the land there lies a long shadow, westward reaching wings of darkness. The Tower trembles; to the tombs of kings doom approaches. The Dead awaken; for the hour is come for the oathbreakers; at the Stone of Erech they shall stand again and hear there a horn in the hills ringing. Whose shall the horn be? Who shall call them from the prey twilight, the forgotten people? The heir of him to whom the oath they swore. From the North shall he come, need shall drive him: he shall pass the Door to the Paths of the Dead." (This comes true 1,000 years later when Isildur's heir passes the Door.)

LOTR: Aragorn, "Then suddenly the foresight of his kindred came to him, and he said: "But lo! Master Elrond, the years of your abiding run short at last, and the choice must soon be laid on your children, to part either with you or with Middle-earth." (It's a one time only offer for your kids: stay or go)

Silmarillion: Huor to Turgon, just before Huor's death: "From you and from me a new star shall rise". (My son I don't even know I'm expecting will get together with your daughter. Their son will sort out this whole sorry mess.)

Silmarillion: Mandos, "To me shall Fëanor come soon." (He's gonna die.)

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    Halbarad is a bit of a stretch; he didn't die on the Paths, he died at the battle of the Pelennor Fields. But one prophecy from LoTR you're definitely missing is Aragorn to Elrond: "the years of your abiding run short at last". Jan 28 at 23:28
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    The entire history of Middle Earth can be viewed a playing out of the prophesy in the Song of Eru.
    – Ethan
    Jan 29 at 3:35
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    @ToddWilcox the "all that is gold does not glitter" is a poem by Bilbo about Aragorn. I didn't think it counted. And I didn't put the 'not by the hand of man will he fall' prophecy because it was in the question.
    – Moriarty
    Jan 29 at 4:19
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    Uh THE HOBBIT: The Thrush knocks thrice?! The king under mountain... rivers running with gold?
    – Lexible
    Jan 29 at 5:56
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    "Then the prophecies of the old songs have turned out to be, after a fashion!" said Bilbo. ¶ "Of course!" said Gandalf."... Surely you don't disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself?"
    – chepner
    Jan 29 at 15:45
21

How about Gandalf talking to Frodo about Gollum:

Frodo: "It's a pity Bilbo didn't kill Gollum when he had the chance."

Gandalf: "Pity? It's a pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play in it, for good or evil, before this is over."

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  • 3
    That's not a prophecy.
    – DavidW
    Jan 29 at 14:14
  • 20
    @DavidW There's not much pomp or mysticism about it, but the correct prediction of a distant event by an immortal being seems reasonably prophetic to me. A prophecy is minimally simply a prediction, and I think this still counts if you add in the requirement that it's communicated by a supernatural entity. Not sure where exactly the line falls between "prophecy" and "supposition that something might happen", though. Jan 29 at 18:44
  • 3
    I actually really like this one, fits really well within the bounds of prophecy, imo.
    – Möoz
    Jan 29 at 21:51
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    @user3490 Prophecy is something that happens in-universe and the characters know about it. Foreshadowing is a literary device that is part of the communication between the writer and the readers. An in-universe prophecy may also serve as foreshadowing for the readers, as long as the readers know about the prophecy before it is fulfilled. Foreshadowing that none of the characters know about in-universe wouldn't normally be considered prophecy in the story. Jan 30 at 2:32
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    @AndresF. Indeed, if a man said it, I might call it a hunch. But a Maia? That's prophecy. Feb 2 at 16:05
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+500

Here are some prophecies not yet mentioned.

Predictor: Thorin Maybe it's more of a wish than a prophecy, but in The Hobbit, in A Warm Welcome: Status: fulfilled, basically

But lock nor bar may hinder the homecoming spoken of old.

speaking of his return to Erebor. Then follows a song which is similar, predicting the restoration of his realm.

The dwarven realm was re-established, though not perhaps as Thorin envisioned it.

Predictor: Aragorn In Fellowship of the Ring, in A Journey in the Dark, Aragorn says to Gandalf: Status: fulfilled

And I say to you: if you pass the doors of Moria, beware!

Rather vague for a prophecy, but he later says, in Lothlorien:

Did I not say to you: if you pass the doors of Moria, beware? Alas that I spoke true!

Gandalf didn't survive, but he got better.

Predictor: Frodo I don't know if you count this as a command or a prophecy, but Frodo says, in Return of the King, in Mount Doom: Status: fulfilled

Begone, and trouble me no more! If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom.

Predictor: unknown (maybe Iluvatar) In The Silmarillion, in Of the Beginning of Days, it is said: Status: unfulfilled (yet)

Yet of old the Valar declared to the Elves in Valinor that Men shall join in the Second Music of the Ainur

which I assume came from Iluvatar. This hasn't yet come to pass, but still may in the distant future.

Predictor: Mandos (Namo) In Of the Flight of the Noldor, Mandos predicts: Status: fulfilled

Tears unnumbered ye shall shed; and the Valar will fence Valinor against you, and shut you out, so that not even the echo of your lamentation shall pass over the mountains. On the House of Fëanor the wrath of the Valar lieth from the West unto the uttermost East, and upon all that will follow them it shall be laid also. Their Oath shall drive them, and yet betray them, and ever snatch away the very treasures that they have sworn to pursue. To evil end shall all things turn that they begin well; and by treason of kin unto kin, and the fear of treason, shall this come to pass. The Dispossessed shall they be for ever.

Ye have spilled the blood of your kindred unrighteously and have stained the land of Aman. For blood ye shall render blood, and beyond Aman ye shall dwell in Death’s shadow. For though Eru appointed to you to die not in Eä, and no sickness may assail you, yet slain ye may be, and slain ye shall be: by weapon and by torment and by grief; and your houseless spirits shall come then to Mandos. There long shall ye abide and yearn for your bodies, and find little pity though all whom ye have slain should entreat for you. And those that endure in Middle-earth and come not to Mandos shall grow weary of the world as with a great burden, and shall wane, and become as shadows of regret before the younger race that cometh after. The Valar have spoken.

This being a Vala who "knows all things that shall be, save only those that lie still in the freedom of Iluvatar", it should be no surprise that all of it came to pass.

Predictor: unknown In Of Beren and Luthien, regarding Huan: Status: fulfilled

it was decreed that he should meet death, but not until he encountered the mightiest wolf that would ever walk the world.

Even if you don't count this as a prophecy because it was decreed (it is not clear by whom, perhaps Oromë?) one must still grant that no greater wolf will ever exist than Carcharoth, and none has yet been seen, nor can anyone see any wolf of greater might arising, with Sauron defeated.

Predictor: Tar-Palantir In Akallabeth, Tar-Palantir made a prophecy: Status: fulfilled

The White Tree he tended again with honour; and he prophesied, saying that when the Tree perished, then also would the line of the Kings come to its end.

The Tree did perish, but the line of the Trees did not. Yet Ar-Pharazon was the last of the true Numenorean kings, since Elendil, though descended from Elros, was not in line to be king.

Credit to Ibid for the idea of clearer formatting for predictor and prediction status

6

Here is another prophecy made by Malbeth the Seer who was mentioned in Moriarty's answer.

Arvedui was indeed the last king, as his name signifies. It is said that his name was given him at his birth by Malbeth the Seer, who said to his father: "Arvedui you shall call him, for he shall be the last in Arthedain. Though a choice will come to the Dunedain, and if they take the one that seems less hopeful, then your son will change his name and become king of a great realm. If not, then much sorrow and many lives of men shall pass, before the Dunedain arise and are united again."

And for decades I have wondered what the choice was.

Was it the choice of the Dunedain in Gondor to reject Arvedui's claim to the throne and make Earnil king of Gondor instead? If Arvedui had become King of Gondor in Third Age (TA) 1945 fate would have been different in many ways.

Or was it Arvedui's decision in 1975 to board Cirdan's ship, which was later crushed in the ice, instead of staying with the icemen? If Arvedui survived he could have become king of Gondor once King Earnur rode to Minas Morgul and was never seen again in 2050.

But could Arvedui have lived until 2050?

Also, though the length of the lives of the Dunedain grew ever less in Middle-earth, after the ending of their kings the waning was swifter in Gondor, and many of the Chieftains of the North still lived to twice the age of Men, and far beyond the days of even the oldest among us. Aragorn indeed lived to be two hundred and ten years old, longer than any of his since since King Arvegil, but in Aragorn Elessar the dignity of the kings of old was renewed.

So Arvedui lived to be less than 210 years old, since he lived after King Arvegil, and so was born after 1765, but of course he died before his time anyway. If Arvedui become King of Gondor in 2050 and lived for sometime after, he would have had to be born after 1840 to live to be 210.

If Arvedui lived to be become King of Gondor in 2050, and died some time after, and only lived to twice the age of Men, or about 140 years, he would have to be born in 1910 or after.

Arvedui wed Firel, daughter of King Ondoher of Gondor, in 1940, when he would have been 30 or less if born in or after 1910.

Tolkien actually wrote a detailed genealogy of the Kings of Arnor and Arthedain which was not published in the Appendixes in the Return of the Kings but is in one of the History of Middle-earth books.

The genealogy of the Line of Isildur in the Tolkien Gateway site says that Arvedui was born in 1864.

https://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/House_of_Isildur#Realm_of_Arnor

If so, Arvedui could have become King of Gondor in 2050 aged 186, if his life span was extended far beyond 140 years.

But I don't know whether the dates of birth are canon. I note that:

Aragorn indeed lived to be two hundred and ten years old, longer than any of his since since King Arvegil.

But the dates of birth in the genealogy show that neither Arvegil or his immediate ancestors lived to be 210.

I read somewhere that Tolkien originally planned for Aragorn to live to be 190, and thus he would live longer than any of his ancestors since king Arvegil. But Tolkien made a last minute change to make Aragorn live to 210. And Tolkien forgot to either change the statement to say that Aragorn lived longer than any of his line since Celebrindor (who lived 210 years from 1062 to 1272), or else change the birthdates in the genealogy to make Arvegil and his ancestors live longer than it now says.

So I am uncertain whether Arvedui could have lived long enough to become King of Gondor in 2050.

And I am uncertain what decision Malbeth referred to in his prophecy.

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    1 of 2. I have always interpreted this as referring to the "choice of the Dunedain of Gondor" (see the text immediately preceding Malbeth's prophecy) whether to accept or reject Arvedui's claim to the southern throne. Here's why: First, Malbeth refers to a "great realm," which I interpret as greater than Arnor (i.e., reunified Arnor and Gondor). Second, Malbeth refers to much time passing before the "Dunedain arise and are united again," the key word being "united." I also interpret this as a reunited Gondor and Arnor. ...
    – Rob
    Jan 31 at 4:41
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    2 of 2. Finally, immediately after the prophecy, the text says, "It may be that if the crown and sceptre had been united, then the kingship would have been maintained and much eveil averted." Given the context and placement of the prophecy with the choice, and the parallel use of language ("choice," "united"), I have always assumed the choice in the prophecy was Gondor's choice. That said, it's an interesting question whether Arvedui's choice to board ship might be a legitimate alternative interpretation. Prophesies are maddeningly vague.
    – Rob
    Jan 31 at 4:44
5

Whether covered by your question or not, but Sam foresaw the damage that would happen (or was happening, the timeline isn't hugely clear) to The Shire, when he looked into the Mirror of Galadriel, and also foresaw Frodo "sleeping" under the Tower of Cirith Ungol, and the search that he undertook thereafter.

There’s only stars, as I thought,’ he said. Then he gave a low gasp, for the stars went out. As if a dark veil had been withdrawn, the Mirror grew grey, and then clear. There was sun shining, and the branches of trees were waving and tossing in the wind. But before Sam could make up his mind what it was that he saw, the light faded; and now he thought he saw Frodo with a pale face lying fast asleep under a great dark cliff. Then he seemed to see himself going along a dim passage, and climbing an endless winding stair. It came to him suddenly that he was looking urgently for something, but what it was he did not know. Like a dream the vision shifted and went back, and he saw the trees again. But this time they were not so close, and he could see what was going on: they were not waving in the wind, they were falling, crashing to the ground

‘Hi!’ cried Sam in an outraged voice. ‘There’s that Ted Sandyman a-cutting down trees as he shouldn’t. They didn’t ought to be felled: it’s that avenue beyond the Mill that shades the road to Bywater. I wish I could get at Ted, and I’d fell him.

But now Sam noticed that the Old Mill had vanished, and a large red-brick building was being put up where it had stood. Lots of folk were busily at work. There was a tall red chimney nearby. Black smoke seemed to cloud the surface of the Mirror

The Lord of The Rings Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, Chapter 7 - "The Mirror of Galadriel."

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5

I was originally planning this answer to cover LotR/Silm as well in a similar scope, but it was looking like more effort than it was worth and so I stopped after The Hobbit. However since there's a whole bunch of other partial answers here, I'll share what I got.

The Hobbit

  • Unknown A thrush will knock near the doorway on Durin's Day Status: Fulfilled

    “Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks,” read Elrond, “and the setting sun with the last light of Durin’s Day will shine upon the key-hole.
    The Hobbit - Chapter III - "A Short Rest"

  • Gandalf The Dwarves will learn that there is more to Bilbo Status: Fulfilled

    I am sending Mr. Baggins with you. I have told you before that he has more about him than you guess, and you will find that out before long.
    The Hobbit - Chapter VII - "Queer Lodgings"

  • Unknown Thrór will return to Erebor and the rivers will run with gold Status: Fulfilled "after a fashion"

    Some began to sing snatches of old songs concerning the return of the King under the Mountain; that it was Thrór’s grandson not Thrór himself that had come back did not bother them at all. Others took up the song and it rolled loud and high over the lake.
    The King beneath the mountains,
    The King of carven stone, ...
    His wealth shall flow in fountains
    And the rivers golden run. ...
    The Hobbit - Chapter X - "A Warm Welcome"

  • Bard - Smaug is coming to Laketown Status: Fulfilled

    “Which king?” said another with a grim voice. “As like as not it is the marauding fire of the Dragon, the only king under the Mountain we have ever known.
    “You are always foreboding gloomy things!” said the others. “Anything from floods to poisoned fish. Think of something cheerful!”
    The Hobbit - Chapter XIV - "Fire and Water"

  • Elvenking - We will not hear anything more about Thorin Status: Unfulfilled

    That will be the last we shall hear of Thorin Oakenshield, I fear,” said the king. “He would have done better to have remained my guest. It is an ill wind, all the same,” he added, “that blows no one any good.”
    The Hobbit - Chapter XIV - "Fire and Water"

  • Roäc Peace will cost a lot of gold Status: Fulfilled

    We would see peace once more among dwarves and men and elves after the long desolation; but it may cost you dear in gold. I have spoken.
    The Hobbit - Chapter XV - "The Gathering of the Clouds"

  • Unknown Thorin will not leave the mountain without first requesting peace Status: Unfulfilled

    “Since such is your answer,” he called in return, “I declare the Mountain besieged. You shall not depart from it, until you call on your side for a truce and a parley. We will bear no weapons against you, but we leave you to your gold. You may eat that, if you will!”
    The Hobbit - Chapter XV - "The Gathering of the Clouds"

  • Thorin Gandalf's beard will wither and Bilbo will be thrown to the rocks Status: Unfulfilled

    “By the beard of Durin! I wish I had Gandalf here! Curse him for his choice of you! May his beard wither! As for you I will throw you to the rocks!” he cried and lifted Bilbo in his arms.
    The Hobbit - Chapter XVII - "The Clouds Burst"

  • Bilbo Bilbo will meet the dwarves again as friends Status: Mostly Fulfilled

    Farewell!” he cried to them. “We may meet again as friends.
    The Hobbit - Chapter XVII - "The Clouds Burst"

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  • I admire the formatting of your answer, and may steal some of it for mine. But three of them use "may", which doesn't sound prophetic, and some seem more analytical than prophetic, like Gandalf's, Bard's, and Thranduil's statements. Feb 2 at 15:15

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