Who is Legolas? - Interesting stuf about the gorgeous Elf from LOTR

Written by Unknown; slightly edited by me.
Who is Legolas?
"There was also a strange Elf clad in green and brown, Legolas, a messenger from his father, Thranduil, the
King of the Elves of Northern Mirkwood."
Source: J.R.R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

"Only one of us is an Elf, Legolas from the Woodland Realm in distant Mirkwood." (Aragorn)
Source: J.R.R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

"You are a Wood-Elf, anyway, though Elves of any kind are strange folk." (Gimli)
Source: J.R.R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Tolkien stresses two times that Legolas, though his name is a dialectal form of the Woodland Elves, is a Woodland Elf, yes, but also Sindarin in origin like his father, just like Galadriel is queen of the Elves of Lothlórien, but she herself is a Noldor Elf. This is an assumption, but I think Thranduil was a Sindar Elf who became ruler of the Silvan
(originally Nandorin Elves). His son was born while he was already in Mirkwood and thus received a name of the Woodland Elves.

His name
Legolas is a dialectal name of the Woodland Elves. The Woodland Elves are of the Sindar stock and the pure Sindarin form of his name is Laegolas. 'Legolas' is composed of leg 'green', a dialectal form of Sindarin laeg; and Sindarin golas/-olas 'collection of leaves, foliage.' I guess because of the 'g' at the end of leg and the one at the beginning of golas, in Legolas' name, the form -olas is applied. The meaning is thus: 'green-leaves' (or 'green collection of leaves', or 'green foliage'). In golas/-olas, the Sindarin component las 'leaf', can be distinguished, itself a derivative of the High Elven lasse. The High Elven form of golas is olassië. As Tolkien said himself, it is indeed a very suitable name for a Woodland Elf.
Source material: J.R.R. Tolkien - The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

His age
Tolkien never specified it, but there are clues. Legolas' father was one of the Sindarin Elves who returned the scattered Elves to wisdom. This occured in the beginning of the First Age. Thranduil became a king of the Woodland Elves before Sauron finished building Barad-Dûr, c. 1600 years into the first age. Elrond was also one of these Elves, Noldor through his father and Sindar through his mother. 4860 years have passed since the construction of the Barad-dûr. So Thranduil is at least that old. But I think he goes back further, that he is at least 6000 years old during the War of the Ring. Now Arwen was born in the year 241 of the Third Age, when Elrond was 3740 years old. So if Thranduil has been around roughly 6000 years, it is possible to date Legolas' birth around the same time as Arwens. That would make him 2778 years old, like Arwen.

"Five hundred times have the red leaves fallen in Mirkwood in my home since then,' said Legolas, 'and but a little while does that seem to us."
Source: J.R.R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

"The Balrog is a survivor from the Silmarillion and the legends of the First Age. [...] It is observable that only the Elf1 knows what the thing is - and doubtless Gandalf."
Source: J.R.R. Tolkien - The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1: The Elf in question is Legolas)

His father: Thranduil
"[...] before the building of the Barad-dûr many of the Sindar passed eastward, and some established realms in the forests far away, where their people were mostly Silvan Elves. Thranduil, king in the north of Greenwood the Great, was one of these."
~ The Lord of the Rings Appendices

"Under the leadership of these (Noldor/Sindar Elves) they became again ordered folk and increased in wisdom. Thranduil father of Legolas of the Nine Walkers was Sindarin, and that tongue was used in his house, though not by all his folk."
~ The Unfinished Tales

"[...] at the head of a long line of feasters sat a woodland king with a crown of leaves upon his golden hair [...]."
~ The Hobbit, Ch Flies and Spiders

"In a great cave some miles within the edge of Mirkwood on its eastern side there lived at this time their greatest king."
~ The Hobbit, Ch Flies and Spiders

"If the elf-king had a weakness it was for treasure, especially for silver and white gems; and thoug his hoard was rich, he was ever eager for more, since he had not yet as great a treasure as other elf-lords of old."
~ The Hobbit, Ch Flies and Spiders

His looks
There is never any mention of Legolas' mother, but his father had 'golden hair', so maybe he did too.

"'Alas! alas!' cried Legolas, and in his fair elvish face there was great distress."
Source: J.R.R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

"Legolas had a bow and a quiver, and at his belt a long white knife."
Source: J.R.R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

"With that he sprang forth nimbly, and then Frodo noticed as if for the first time, though he had long known it, that the Elf had no boots, but wore only light shoes, as he always did, and his feet made little imprint in the snow."
Source: J.R.R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

"Frodo looked up at the Elf standing tall above him, as he gazed into night, seeking a mark to shoot at. His head was dark, crowned with sharp white stars that glittered in the black pools of the sky behind."
Source: J.R.R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

"But Legolas stood beside him, shading his bright elven-eyes with his long slender hand, [...]."
Source: J.R.R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

"'Many miles lie between,' said Legolas, gazing thither and shading his eyes with his long hand."
Source: J.R.R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

"'You have the keen eyes of your fair kindred, Legolas.'" (Gandalf)
Source: J.R.R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

"Together the Elf and the Dwarf entered Minas Tirith, and folk that saw them pass marvelled to see such companions; for Legolas was fair of face beyond the measure of Men [...]."
Source: J.R.R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Most notable differences with the books
*Legolas running on the snow on Caradhras becomes walking on the snow.
*Instead of Elrond choosing the members of the Fellowship, they agree to join him themselves. Legolas follows suit after Gandalf and Aragorn. Then Elrond declares them to be 'the Fellowship'.
*In Moria, the entire Fellowship battle the Watcher in the Water. In the books, it's just Sam.
*In Moria, Legolas kills the cave troll by firing two arrows into its mouth. In the Books, Frodo drives the cave troll off by stabbing it in the foot with Sting.
*The thing that is missed the most though was the development of his friendship with Gimli. At the Council
of Elrond they are at each other's throats, and then in Moria Gimli calls Legolas his friend. There is no explanation in the film how that happened.
Source: TolkienOnline

Omissions
* Legolas shooting the horse of the Nâzgul leader
* Legolas' explanation about the river Nimrodel
* Gimli meeting Galadriel (which is the start of his friendship with Legolas)
* Only Frodo receives a gift from Galadriel
* At Boromir's funeral neither Aragorn nor Legolas sing a mourning song

Helping out
* When the first barrage of snow hits the Fellowship on Caradhras, Legolas pushes Gandalf out of the way.
* When the Watcher in the Water bursts into the gate of Moria, Legolas pulls Aragorn back, out of harm's way.
* In Moria, when Boromir nearly falls down a fissure, Legolas grabs him and pulls him back.
* In Moria, the Fellowship attempts to outrun the Balrog by jumping over a chasm. Legolas jumps first and
catches Gandalf. He also saves Gimli from falling into the fissure by grabbing onto his beard.

Memorable moments
* Irritation when Gimli comes to stand beside him at the Council of Elrond
* Popping out of the snow on Caradhras
* The way he says 'Goblins!' and throws the arrow away at the entrance of Moria
* The Gimli-beard-saving-manoeuvre
* Firing an arrow into the cave troll while on top of his head
* When he says he can't translate the lament for Gandalf
* When he sees Boromir dying

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