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Smaug

SmaugPlayed by **BILLY NIGHY (Rumored)**

One of the last great dragons of Middle-earth, Smaug rose to prominence by laying waste to the town of Dale and capturing the Lonely Mountain (Erebor) with all of its treasure. He was already centuries old at the time, this having happened over 200 years before the events of The Hobbit. In the book, he is sometimes called Smaug the Golden or Smaug the Magnificent.

Smaug has the fiery breath generally associated with dragons, but is just as dangerous behind as before: his tail is described as having the power “of battering-rams made of forest oaks and swung by giants”, and when Bilbo foolishly gives him too many clues as to where his and the Dwarves’ campsite is, Smaug uses this powerful tail to bring rubble down upon them to try to bury them all.

Smaug has exceptional eyesight, and also an acute sense of smell, which he is able to use asleep or awake. He is even able to put an exact figure on the number of people and ponies that arrive near his lair, and his appetite (he eats six out of the fourteen ponies before he even has his conversation with Bilbo) is monstrous. He can also sleep with one eye open to keep watch over his treasure, which is how he manages to speak with Bilbo when he returns for more — although he has to admit to himself that he cannot decide what species Bilbo is by scent alone, the smell of a hobbit being unknown to him.

Smaug was intimately familiar with every last item within his hoard, and instantly noticed the theft of a relatively inconsequential cup by Bilbo. According to Tolkien, his rage was the kind which “is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy lose something they have long had but never before used or wanted.” This theft of a cup, Smaug’s knowledge of every item in the hoard, and the dragon’s ensuing rampage all echo the story of Beowulf, on which Tolkien was a noted expert and which he described as one of his “most valued sources” for The Hobbit. Among the items in Smaug’s possession were the Arkenstone, and a number of mithril mail shirts, one of which was given as a gift to Bilbo by Thorin Oakenshield, the company’s leader. In The Lord of the Rings, set years later, the shirt saved Bilbo’s relative Frodo from injury multiple times.

As with most dragons, Smaug’s scaly hide cannot be penetrated by weapons, yet his soft underbelly is vulnerable to attack. However, centuries spent sleeping atop his gold hoard has caused gold and gems to become embedded in his flesh and part of his skin, creating essentially an impenetrable armour. However, when Bilbo met him in his lair, he discovered a small bare patch on Smaug’s left breast. When Bilbo told his Dwarf companions about Smaug’s weakness, he was overheard by the thrush that roosted by the mountain’s secret door. The thrush in turn told Bard the Bowman of Esgaroth. When Smaug attacked the town, Bard shot his Black Arrow into Smaug’s left breast, the armour’s weak spot, killing him.

After Smaug’s death, Thorin and Company claimed the treasure as theirs by birthright. This created a conflict with Bard and the Elven king Thranduil of Mirkwood, who each wanted a portion of the gold as reimbursement for all the damage Smaug had caused their kingdoms over the years. Thorin refused to share the treasure as long as they stood in arms before his gate, and declared war on both of them. Conflict was avoided by the arrival of the Goblin and Warg army who wanted the treasure out of greed, and the Dwarves decided to ally with the Elves and Men to fight this greater evil in what became known as the Battle of Five Armies, during which Thorin was mortally wounded.