The Silmarillion - General Discussion

Discussing Tolkien's foundations for Middle-earth
Riv Res
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Postby Riv Res » Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:54 am

I have been nosing around through the HoMe and also the Tolkien letters, and I am forming the opinion that Tolkien never intended a succession to Gil-galad's crown, and was indeed preparing the Elves exit of Middle-earth and there was no need to perpetuate their previous lineage and kingdoms.

After all, Tolkien wrote all of this to create a mythology for England. There are no Elves left in the world and so, Elven kingdoms no longer hold importance. Tolkien let them die out before the Elves left Middle-earth altogether.

There is evidence of this thinking on Tolkien's part...first in Volume 6 of the HoMe - The Return of the Shadow. Even though he was given Vilya by Gil-galad, Elrond never assumes that the royal lineage is passed to him as well.

An early version of a conversation between Bingo (who later morphs into Frodo) and Elrond in Rivendell...

… ‘And thither came many of the Great Men of old out of the Far West Island which was called by the Elves Númenor (but by some Avallon) [> out of the land of Westernesse (that they called Númenor)]; for Sauron had destroyed their island [>land], and they were exiles and hated him. There was a King in Beleriand of the Númenorean race and he was called Elendil, that is Elf-friend. And he made and alliance with the Elf-king of those lands, whose name is Gilgalad (Starlight), a descendant of Fëanor the renowned. I remember well their council – for it reminded me of the great days of the ancient war, so many fair princes and captains were there, yet not so many or so fair as once had been.’

‘You remember?’ said Bingo, looking astonished at Elrond. ‘Bit I thought this tale was of days very long ago,’

‘So it is,’ said Elrond laughing. ‘But my memory reaches back a long way [>to long ago]. My father was Eärendel who was born on Gondolin seven years before it fell and my mother was Elwing daughter of Lúthien daughter of King Thingol of Doriath, and I have seen many ages in the West of the World. I was at the council I speak of, for I was the minstrel and counsellor of Gilgalad


Elrond certainly does not think himself successor to Gli-Galad, but merely his minstrel and counsellor.

We also get a hint that no Elven kingdoms are meant to pass beyond Gil-Galad from Tolkien himself, written in a letter circa 1956...Letter 183.

‘But that was not the policy or duty set out by the Council of Elrond. Only after hearing the debate and realizing the nature of the quest did Frodo accept the burden of his mission. Indeed the Elves destroyed their own polity in pursuit of a ‘humane’ duty. This did not happen merely as an unfortunate damage of War; it was known by them to be an inevitable result of victory, which would in no way be advantageous to Elves. Elrond cannot be said to have a political duty or purpose.’


So it seems to me that while Galadriel awaited her test (from Frodo and the Ring) in Lothlorien, maintaining the Elven nature of that special place while she waited, she had no designs on re-establishing any of the magnificent Elven kingdoms of the past.

Thranduil kept his small kingdom in Mirkwood, but it was not a place of splendor and glory either.

Cirdan, who once held an Elven Ring of power before giving it to Gandalf, turned from helping the Men and Elves to enter Middle-earth to helping the Elves leave.

Lastly, for his part, Elrond seems to have assumed the role of caretaker in Rivendell. We have another hint from Tolkien in that Rivendell (or Imladris), is also called the Last Homely Home. A place of beauty and rest for a tired race. Elrond serves his purpose of rearing and guarding the heir of Númenor until that day when Aragorn triumphs over Sauron, and re-establishes the Kingdom of Men which stretches both north and south.


So Lindariel, I don't think Gil-Galad's fostering of Elros and Elrond was for the purpose of grooming a High Noldoran heir for Middle-earth. The glory of Gondolin was gone, and I don't believe Tolkien ever entertained the thought of carrying on the Noldoran lineage. The Elves' days in Middle-earth were numbered. Elrond's purpose in the story was to be the minstrel and counsellor to Gil-Galad and subsequently be the caretaker of the Elven sanctuary and refuge...The Last Homely Home...through the final battle with Sauron, and until the Elves left Middle-earth to Men.

IMHO :D
Last edited by Riv Res on Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:44 am

Thanks Riv!

I hadn't tied Galadriel's rejection of Queenship when faced with the Ring with the end of the Noldorian Kingdoms. There's already been a stepping back on her part from all of that, a recognition that it no longer has a place and will only bring more woe.

As Galadriel left the bliss of Valinor in search of a kingdom in Middle-earth, she'd know better than most what a poison chalice it could be and where it could lead when it all went horribly wrong.

I've been looking through Unfinished Tales and come across this in the 'History of Galadriel and Celeborn', in the tale 'Amroth and Nimrodel' (1969):

After the disaster in Moria and the sorrows of Lorien, which was now left without a ruler (for Amroth was drowned in the sea in the Bay of Belfalas and left no heir), Celeborn and Galadriel returned to Lorien, and were welcomed by the people. There they dwelt while the Third Age lasted, but they took no title of King or Queen; for they said that they were only guardians of this small but fair realm, the last eastward outpost of the Elves.


Tolkien kept changing Galadriel's history contantly but it gives some idea of Tolkien's thinking about Galadriel and kingship, which I suppose would hold just as true when faced with the aftermath of the Battle of the Last Alliance? She did see herself and Celeborn (as others have pointed out) as guardians of the last glory of the elves against the growing dark. To be a king (or queen) is more proactive. You have to be prepared to go out and do battle and support alliances. Turgon tried to hold and preserve his Kingdom behind his walls in Gondolin but there was always the feeling that as a King at some time he had to come out and aid others (as indeed he did). In a way, ulitmately, he was obliged too.

Perhaps Elrond, also wise and forsighted, felt the same. Preserve, hold and protect not wield power (with all its wider obligations).
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Philipa
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Postby Philipa » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:52 pm

Good find Riv. This at least gives us the thought that we were not to far off the mark.

I've been looking through Unfinished Tales and come across this in the 'History of Galadriel and Celeborn', in the tale 'Amroth and Nimrodel' (1969)


In that one chapter of the UT I must say I learned quite a lot of back history to do with Galadriel and Celeborn. It was a very revealing chapter though it made other writings for them a bit disjointed.
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:45 pm

I must admit I refer to it a lot! But it's a very tangled web he's woven there.
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Postby Philipa » Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:17 am

I've been reading a lot of the Sil lately (waiting for our next installment of UT :wink: ) and I've revisited the chapter O fthe Voyage of Earendil and the War of Wrath. I'd forgotten how much I loved the story. :heart:

It struck me while reading the description of the Valar marching towards Morgoth in the North that the wording leads one to believe Tolkien thought the Valar of the West could kick anyone's butt and win. That those in the Hither Lands were so beaten down they probably would not last much longer or fight their way up and away from Morgoth.

But at the last the might of Valinor came up out of the West, and the challenge of the trumpets of Eonwe filled the sky; and Beleriand was ablaze with the glory of the arms, for the host of the Valar were arrayed in forms young and fair and terrible, and the mountains rang beneath their feet.


I thought there was some tone of elitism for those from Valinor and the M-e or Noldor the cursed were, well, lesser beings.

Am I nuts?
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:08 am

I've never really noticed any elitism. The Noldor had been almost completely destroyed at this point and would never have been able to rise up again against Morgoth unaided. That went for the Dark Elves and the remnants of the faithful men too, not just those that were cursed. If there had been no help from Valinor Morgoth would have destroyed all the last peoples of Middle-earth who didn't follow him. So I don't think it's really a case of 'lesser beings' (although they were, or course, less than the Valar and Maiar), just that their strength was utterly spent. Turgon knew that Valinor was their only hope and sent out countless messengers that never reached the West.

I think, though, that the Valar (apart from Ulmo) can be accused of sitting behind their walls and ignoring Middle-earth for too long. I can see their gripe against the Noldor, but what about everybody else!
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Postby Merry » Fri Mar 27, 2009 2:40 pm

The Valar and the Maiar are gods, right? I'm not sure I would call it elitism, which to me rings of beings who think they are superior but aren't. The gods are metaphysically superior. I'm guessing that the only way to deal with Morgoth and Sauron is equals against equals.

There's something in The Sil, isn't there, about the Valar thinking they had kind of botched things up in some intervention and deciding to 'sit on their butts' longer from now on. (Was it kind of insisting that the Elves stay in Valinor and that leading to the Kinslaying?) I think Tolkien, as a believer, is trying to work on the question of why God lets evil happen. There are a few hints throughout LOTR about this, but the one I remember is when Gandalf is getting ready to leave the Fellowship after they return north. The hobbits say, no, you've got to stay with us in case something else comes up. And Gandalf says, no, you're grown now, this is what you've been trained for, as if the whole journey were just a training exercise!

Another of the great Tolkien themes!
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Postby Iolanthe » Sun Mar 29, 2009 6:03 pm

It's just hit me :idea: .

A lot of bad things happen in M-e because the Valar don't get involved there anything like enough after Morgoth returns. They sit on their butts and leave him to it. They've decided it's better not to get involved and the result almost makes all free-beings in M-e slaves of Morgoth, or worse, dead. Their plan for men (those they think good) is to remove them from M-e altogether (like the elves) and leave the rest to it.

After Morgoth gets shoved into the Outer Darkness and Numenor falls they finally get things right - what the peoples of M-e need isn't the Valar riding in blowing trumpets OR sitting behind the walls of Valinor up the Straight Road. What they need is Guides in Disguise.

It just took them nearly three Ages to get there. Even though they picked two Guides that vanished off east somewhere, one who just wanted to talk to birds, and a psychopath in the making.
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Postby Merry » Mon Mar 30, 2009 4:12 am

:lol:
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
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Postby Iolanthe » Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:41 pm

Maybe the Valar needed 'How to be a Valar' classes :lol: .
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Postby Philipa » Sat Apr 04, 2009 4:47 pm

Iolanthe wrote:Maybe the Valar needed 'How to be a Valar' classes :lol: .


At the wizardry's school no doubt. :wink: :D
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Postby Iolanthe » Mon Apr 06, 2009 2:30 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol: Very funny Philipa!
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Postby Merry » Sat Feb 06, 2010 6:22 am

I've been thinking about the creation myth. In many of its features, it resembles the Judeo-Christian creation story, which has God's first creative act being a Word. John's Gospel starts out, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. In the Greek, the word for Word is Logos, from which we get all of the --ology endings for school disciplines, as well as the word 'logic', etc. So one of the things these writers are trying to tell us is that creation is based on reason and is understandable. Jesus, then, is the personification of the Word at the Incarnation.

So Tolkien has creation beginning with a song. What is he trying to tell us? A song also has reason, but in addition, it has beauty. A traditional Catholic metaphysical theory from Thomas Aquinas in the Middle Ages teaches that anything that was created has goodness, truth, and beauty in some measure. So the Logos is also beautiful in itself. But Tolkien's creation myth really emphasizes this aspect of existence. It doesn't change the Judeo-Christian myth fundamentally, but brings one of its aspects to the forefront.

Tolkien has tremendous insight into and feeling for the good, the true, and the beautiful, but maybe the last is the deepest for him.
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Sun Feb 07, 2010 10:13 am

I think that's spot on, Merry, and a love of beauty runs on through all his writings. When creatures turn to evil in Tolkien's world and follow Morgoth's unharmonious themes, beauty is destroyed and lost. Morgoth and Sauron both eventually lose their angelic beauty and become hideous and Morgoth can't recreate it in his own creatures, which are only ugly corruptions. The elves can make beautiful things, but they are still in harmony with Iluvatar.

Both logic and music go hand in hand - it's the great coming together of both mathematical structure and creative art, harmonic laws and free expression. I can't think of anything else that's a better metaphor for creation!
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Postby Merry » Sun Feb 07, 2010 5:39 pm

Yes, good point! And the ugliness of modernism seems to be one of the things that bothers him most about it.
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.


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