While destroying the One Ring was the goal of The Lord of the Rings, placing Aragorn on the throne was just as important for the longevity of Middle-earth. It had been centuries since the line of Isildur had ruled Gondor, but only they could successfully unite the kingdoms of Men once more and bring about an age of prosperity. However, the weight of all that on Aragorn’s shoulder raises questions about his father, Arathorn II, who is missing from the trilogy.
Aragorn’s ancestor Isildur gets all the attention, with him being the one to keep Sauron’s ring and kickstart the entire story. Yet, he passed away at the beginning of the Third Age, and The Lord of the Rings takes place around 3019, meaning there was a huge gap full of Isildur’s heirs. And while few ever sat on the throne, they were all important to Aragorn’s eventual victory, including his father.
Arathorn’s Early Life in Middle-Earth
Born over 100 years before The Lord of the Rings, Arathorn was the son of the Chieftain of the Dunedain. This group were descendants of Middle-earth’s strongest race of Men but had long since had a home and spent their time surviving in the wilderness. Many of them would later be known as Rangers of the North, a group of protectors Aragorn was a part of at the beginning of Frodo’s tale.
Arathorn was strong and noble like his father and spent his youth training in Rivendell to one day replace his leadership. At around 50 years old, Arathorn fell in love with a lady named Gilraen and asked for her hand in marriage. At the time, Gilraen was in her early 20s and even had a distant blood relation to Isildu, making their love questionable. And Gilraen’s father felt the same discomfort, showing strong disapproval toward their marriage. He only allowed it because of his daughters’ claims, as Gilraen said she had visions of Arathorn meeting an early grave.
Aragorn’s Loss Before The Lord of the Rings
Two years after getting married, Aragorn was born. Yet, just before this happened, Arathorn’s father was captured and killed by Hill-trolls, leaving him as the new Chieftain of the Dunedain. He soon had to leave his wife and newborn son alone while he led his people, meaning Aragorn never really knew his father. And sadly, before Arathorn could fix that, Gilaen’s visions came to pass.
In 2933, when Aragorn was only two years old, Arathorn was struck with an arrow in the eye while hunting orcs. He died instantly, leaving Elrond’s sons to race for his wife and child and escort them to Rivendell. There, Aragorn came under the Elves’ protection and was renamed Estel, with Elrond adopting the boy as his own. Gilaen also joined them and lived until the ripe old age of 100, dying 12 years before Aragorn was crowned king in The Lord of the Rings.
So, in the end, Aragorn’s father was a cautionary tale of the task placed on the heirs of Isildur. While he was said to be noble, he had to abandon his own family to protect his people, leaving Aragorn as heir to the throne at the age of two. That’s why Elrond is always seen as Aragorn’s father. But still, Arathorn was just as important in Aragorn’s journey to the throne.