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  • #2530
  • Medieval Medieval (culture)
  • Forest Dweller Forest Dweller (attribute)
  • Deadly Deadly (behaviour)

These creatures were recreated as green strong men with tusks, sharp teeth and pointed ears in JRR Tolkien’s novels. However the Orc was originally described as a mass of flesh with teeth and was an enemy to the whale. The Saxons believed the Orcs to be spirits of the Earth. The poet William Blake describes them as servants of the Devil. The Orc features in the story of Orlando Furioso by Ariosto;

“Yet with his spear in hand, though not in rest,
The ugly Orke the brow he strake
(I call him Orke, because I know no beast,
Nor fish from whence comparison to take)
His head and teeth were like a boar, the rest
A mass, of which I know not what to make.”

In Anglo-Saxon mythology there is a class of Underworld spirits or Thyrs known as the Orc-Thyrs. These were manifestations of evil spirits from Hell that now lived upon the land haunting the woods. The term ‘orcus’ is written as a latin word in one Anglo Saxon script that described the Orcus as being “orc, giant or demon from hell.” It is from this word that Tolkien used to adapt the Orcs in his novels.

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