"I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn, and am called Elessar, the Elfstone, Dúnadan, the heir of Isildur Elendil's son of Gondor. Here is the sword that was broken and is forged again! " —The Two Towers
One of the greatest characters in the history of both film and literature, Aragorn II has inspired generations of people with his bravery and humility. His conception by J.R.R. Tolkien took years of gestation and dedication, while his portrayal by Viggo Mortensen in the live action trilogy of The Lord of the Rings has cemented the actor in the pantheon of greats. Here are some fact you may not have known about Aragorn.
Aragorn II was a foster child. At the age of two, his father Arathorn II died while he was hunting Orcs, and Aragorn grew up in the elven territory of Rivendell, “The Last Homely House East of the Sea.”
Rivendell actually ran in Aragorn's veins: his father Arathorn had also been reared in the Elven safe hold.
True to form, the name "Aragorn" means "Revered King" in Sindarin.
Aragorn was named after Aragorn I, one of his forefathers, who was the fifth Chieftain of the Dunedain. Clearly, his parents clearly had some pretty lofty goals for their kid.
After being fostered, Aragorn was renamed "Estel"—meaning hope—for fear that enemies would find out his true identity as the son of Arathorn, and thus know he was the true heir to the throne of Isildur. In fact, the Elves of Rivendell even kept the young boy from his own true identity, keeping him in the dark about his royal origins.
Aragorn only found out who he really was when he was 20 years old.
Because of his fostered upbringing in Rivendell, Aragorn was bilingual, and learned how to speak Elvish at a young age. Viggo Mortensen, who played Aragorn in the films, even requested to have more lines in Elvish. This was a way to display the character’s fluency as well as his relationships with the elves.
Aragorn's relationship with Gandalf the Grey goes way further back than most people realize, to when Aragorn was only 25 years old. Nonetheless, the circumstances of their meeting is a little cloudy. Regardless of how they met, however, the two would forge a great friendship together, and share many adventures and heroics along the way.
In fact, Gandalf came to admire Aragorn as “the greatest traveler and huntsman of this age of the world.” That's high praise from the honorable wizard.
As a young boy of only 10 years old, Aragorn was in Rivendell when Bilbo Baggins came during his journey around Middle Earth in the tale of The Hobbit.
After learning of his true identity and his claim to the throne, Aragorn set out on his own journey to Middle Earth, which lasted for 23 years. This proved vital to his development as a man and gave him the tools he needed to be a king.
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At the beginning of his journey, he sought out the Rangers, of whom his father was a part, and worked with them as the 16th Chieftain of the Dúnedain, a position his namesake Aragorn I once held. He spent years fighting the armies of Mordor and killing groups of Orcs.
Aragorn's mighty sword Anduril is also known as the "Flame of the West." The great weapon was reforged from the shards of Narsil, the sword Aragorn's ancestor Isildur wielded when he cut off the One Ring from Sauron's hand years before.
Aragorn also spent time fighting for Gondor disguised under the name of Thorongil (meaning "Eagle of the Star"), and built up an incredibly esteemed reputation for himself while leading raids against the Corsairs of Umbar.
In addition to his given name Aragorn, his adopted name of Estel, and his pseudonym Thorongil, he also had many nicknames, including Strider—which he is introduced as to the hobbits—Longshanks, and Wingfoot. He also took on the name Telcontar after founding the House of Telcontar. His full regnal name would be King Elessar Telcontar.
It seems the more important you are, the more names you have.
Though he fell in love with Arwen when they first met, Aragorn didn’t propose marriage until he returned from his journeys around Middle Earth. That’s a long time to wait for love, though probably not for an elf.
Though he was known as Strider, J.R.R. Tolkien's original nickname for Aragorn was "Trotter," based on the noise his wooden shoes would have made. If "wooden shoe" sounds like an odd article of clothing for the heroic Aragorn to wear, that's because he was actually first thought up as a Hobbit, not a Man.
Before the events of The Lord of the Rings went down, Gandalf tasked Aragorn with tracking down Gollum to find out more information about The One Ring. This made him familiar with Gollum and his ways.
Aragorn isn't just the last descendant of the royal Isildur line, he's also directly related to the kingdom of Arnor. However, during the War of the Ring, Arnor no longer had as much power as it once did, and plays less of a role in the books, making it kind of the black sheep of Aragorn's family tree.
It's hard to imagine anyone else besides Viggo Mortensen in the role of Aragorn, but he wasn’t actually the first choice for the part. In fact, he wasn't even near the top of the list. Daniel Day-Lewis (because who doesn’t want him in their movie?) turned the role down several times, while the likes of Nicolas Cage turned down the part as well.
In fact, Stuart Townsend was originally cast in the role, but was fired almost as soon as filming began. Thank goodness Peter Jackson ended up landing on Mortensen.
The fight choreography of the Lord of the Rings films was done by Bob Anderson, a British Olympic fencer who was one of the most renowned sword-fighting choreographers in Hollywood. Having trained many legendary actors, he believed Viggo Mortensen to be the best natural swordsman he had the opportunity to train.
If Bob Anderson is saying that, let's just say it has to be true.
Speaking of swordsmanship, keeping true to Aragorn’s all-around heroism, Mortensen was the only member of the cast who didn’t use an aluminum and rubber prop sword while filming. Instead, he performed all of his own stunts with a real steel sword in hand. However, this bravery didn't just start and end at the tip of his sword...
In fact, Mortensen was so hardcore during filming that he even once chipped a tooth, calmly went to the dentist, and was back on set after lunch.
Mortensen was so convincing in his portrayal as Aragorn that during filming, director Peter Jackson had moments where he would lapse into calling him by Aragorn rather than Viggo, and neither of them would realize it.
Of course, that's just the beginning of the talents Mortensen displayed while on set of the movie trilogy. In a scene in The Fellowship of the Ring, Aragorn is battling the Orc leader Lurtz, who throws a dagger at Mortensen that he deflects in mid-air. It's important that this wasn’t movie magic: a real dagger was flying right at Mortensen.
Viggo then quickly showed off his skills by deflecting it in the first take.
One of the main differences between the Aragorn in the books and Aragorn in the films is his interest in fulfilling his destiny and reclaiming the throne of Gondor. In the books, he is actively pursuing the throne, while in the films, he is more reluctant and passive about his right to the crown.
Aragorn was greatly admired and hugely popular in Gondor. Nonetheless, he declined to be proclaimed king until he was able to finish the war and defeat Sauron. In fact, he famously refused to even re-enter the capital city until he was crowned King.
During the events of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers when Aragorn shows off some seriously impressive feats, he is actually about 87 years old. Not bad for a man of that age—but granted, for a royal of the Númenórean line, that's just the prime of life.
Aragorn was able to live much longer than most men because he had some Elvish lineage. In fact, he is actually distantly related to Elrond: Elrond came from a half-Elf line, meaning that he and his kin could choose to live either as mortals or immortals. Though Elrond went with immortality, his brother Elros chose mortality instead—albeit with a modified 300-year lifespan—and became the first Númenórean King.
Many generations after Elros's death, Aragorn was born from his legacy, and also received the privileges of a long life.
While he was a great leader with wisdom and confidence, Aragorn still suffered from deep self-doubt. He was quite hard on himself and could even be grim about his side's prospects in the War of the Ring. While leading the Fellowship, he often doubted his wisdom and decisions, sometimes often blaming himself for their failures and misfortunes.
Aragorn was also far from perfect in other ways, and could suffer from pride. In one instance, he refuses to lay down his mighty sword Anduril at Edoras when King Theodon demanded it. In fact, Aragorn is so stubborn about not disarming himself that it takes Gandalf laying down his own legendary sword for Aragorn to relent and do likewise.
All the same, Aragorn swore that if anyone touched his blade, death would come to them.
Still don't believe how skilled a warrior Aragorn was? Well, how's this: He emerged from the Battle of Pelennor Fields without a scratch, let alone a scar, from all of the fighting.
While Aragorn is clearly the traditional hero of Tolkien’s story, he isn’t the main character. By doing this, Tolkien flipped the classical way to tell a story on its head, and showed an alternative perspective to where heroes come from, and how they rise. In short: no hero can do it alone, and he has to rely on the bravery of those around him as well.
Given this, Aragorn is wise enough to understand that the real heroes of the story are Frodo and Sam.
Tolkien's inspiration to develop Aragorn in his particular arc came from the Anglo-Saxon King Oswald of Northumbria. King Arthur was an inspiration as well, and Aragorn also echoes some aspects of Edward the Confessor and Alfred the Great.
Aragorn's reign lasted for 120 years, and he did much work to bring peace and protection across Middle Earth. After his death, his son Eldarion took the throne.
The mental fortitude of Aragorn was unparalleled in Middle Earth. Sauron was able to control much of Middle Earth due to powerful crystal balls called Palantirs, and often poisoned people's minds with them. One tainted the wizard Saruman, and you'l remember that even the great Gandalf was afraid to touch one of these dark spheres.
However, Aragorn was able to hold one in his hands and speak directly to Sauron without any adverse effect.
Aragorn was raised by Elrond, who would go on to eventually become his father-in-law after he married Arwen. This relationship, of course, is one of the greatest love stories in Lord of the Rings, but their passion almost had an incredibly heartbreaking end. Elrond was initially against the match, and even wanted to ban Arwen from marrying Aragorn.
If Arwen chose to marry Aragorn, she would have to accept mortality, thus separating herself from her immortal father and her Elven kin. Elrond felt that the cost was simply too high.
Elrond did, however, finally give in, even though it caused him immense pain to do so; he was certain the tragedy of death would lay heavy on Arwen. Even so, he would only allow his precious daughter to marry on one condition: first, her beloved Aragorn had to become the King of Gondor and Arnor before Elrond would even consider the match.
Because if your daughter is going to give up immortality, it helps if it's for a king.
Aragorn and Arwen didn’t meet until Aragorn was 20 years old; they hadn’t known each other in their childhood.
Though Elrond deeply disapproved of Arwen and Aragorn's love, he actually may have helped facilitate it. When Arwen was little, she was sent away to stay in her mother’s homeland, Lórien, and she visited her grandmother Galadriel in the wooded territory. This is why Arwen and Aragorn never met when they were younger.
When Arwen returned to Rivendell, Aragorn was evidently struck by her all at once, when perhaps if he had grown up with her, he would have been more immune to her charms.
Despite the sweeping romance of Aragorn and Arwen depicted in the films, Tolkien didn't really nail down this aspect of the books until much later in the series. Indeed, when Tolkien wrote the scene where Aragorn meets the human Eowyn, her obvious interest in him isn't entirely unreciprocated, and Tolkien even made a note that the characters would get married when the story ended.
Obviously, this didn't happen, but Tolkien only fully expanded Arwen and Aragorn's own love story while he was working on the appendices, and it remains much less of a focus in the books than in the movies.
It was Galadriel who gave Aragorn his royal name of King Elessar.
In an attempt to set Aragorn apart from the rest of the characters in the movies, Mortensen sports a bit of beard scruff. However, in the books, Aragorn is actually clean-shaven, like an elf.
Tolkien struggled with what to name Aragorn, as he felt that a Man wouldn't have an Elven name. Accordingly, he once changed Aragorn's name to "Ingold," which is of Old English origins. Eventually though, he changed his mind back, and "Aragorn" stuck.
In another display of total, hardcore commitment to his craft, Viggo Mortensen once acted through severely broken bones. Remember the scene in The Two Towers where Aragorn believes the hobbits have perished, and then kicks a helmet across the plain before screaming in spiritual grief and agony on his knees? Well, it turns out that was more than just spiritual agony.
When Mortensen kicked the helmet, he ended up breaking not one but two toes in the process. The pain we see on screen is actually at least partly his real reaction to snapping his own bones.
In a seriously cool move, in both the books and the film Aragorn is able to call forth the dead army from the mountains of Dunharrow to fight alongside him during the battle of Minas Tirith. In the films, it's just something he does without any help, but in the books, he uses an object called the Black Stone to call the army.
Either way you cut it though, it's still very cool.
The tale of Aragorn and Arwen’s love is based on real life. Tolkien wrote this love story as a reflection of his love for his own wife, Edith, and the passages with Aragorn and Arwen are some of the most moving and beautiful prose he ever produced.
Arwen and Aragorn's love is mirrored in the passion between Aragorn's own parents, Arathorn and Gilraen. The two were deeply in love with each other, but just like Elrond with Arwen, Gilraen's father disapproved of the match, feeling that his beautiful daughter was too young and impressionable to know what she wanted.
However, that wasn't the only reason for Gilraen's father to disapprove—he also foresaw Arathorn's early death, and was reluctant to allow his daughter to go through the pain of loss. It was Gilraen's mother who convinced him to relent and let the couple get married, predicting that, "If these two wed now, hope may be born for our people; but if they delay, it will not come while this age lasts." It worked, and the prophesied savior Aragorn was born soon after the couple married.
Yet Arathorn did indeed die at a heartbreakingly young age, leaving Gilraen and his young son bereft. Tragically, in the end Arathorn and Gilraen were denied the happy ending of Aragorn and Arwen.
Given how youthful Aragorn is supposed to be during The Hobbit, Mortensen turned down the opportunity to reprise his role for the Hobbit movies. When asked by a producer if he would like join the rest of the cast in the films, Mortensen replied a little coldly, “You do know, don’t you...That there is a 60-year gap between the books?”
The man had a point.
While The Rings of Power were all made during the Second Age of Middle Earth, the Ring of Barahir, which Aragorn wears, was crafted way back before in the First Age, making it one of the oldest objects in existence. Take that, Sauron.
Aragorn died when he was 210 years old. Though Numenorean Kings often have lifespans of 300 years, Aragorn gave up this extra time and decided to end his own life for fear of suffering through the pains and indignities of old age, including losing his wits. More particularly and touchingly, he didn't want Arwen to watch him deteriorate.
With this wish, he chose to die before it was actually his time.
Aragorn's last words to Arwen were: "In sorrow, we must go, but not in despair. Behold! We are not bound forever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory. Farewell!"
After her beloved Aragorn's death, Arwen died of a broken heart.
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