Fingolfin (as High King) thinks it could be time to assault Angband -
the Noldor have increased in numbers, they have allied with the Sindar,
and with the recently-arrived Men. But "most of the Noldor" have
grown accustomed to and somewhat indolent in their new realms in
Beleriand, and so generally do not want to go marching off to fight
. Only those lords of the Noldor that live within sight of
Thangorodrim pay him any heed . But during the Long Peace Morgoth
has been biding his time, building his forces and stoking his hatred.
In the middle of winter the assault begins. We get some very evocative
description of the moments just before the start of the attack. The
plain stretched "dim beneath the cold moon, from the hill-forts 
of the Noldor to the feet of Thangorodrim"; "the watchfires burned
low and the guards were few"; " few were waking in the camps of the
horsemen of Hithlum" . Morgoth sends forth great rivers of fire
from Thangorodrim and poisonous fumes. Ard-galen is consumed and
henceforth become Anfauglith, the Gasping Dust . Many of the Noldor
are killed on the plains by the rivers of fire before they could flee
Thus begins Dagor Bragollach, or simply "the Bragollach", the
Battle of Sudden Flame.
Glaurung leads the assault, with Balrogs in his train and multitudes of
Orcs . The battle lasts until the start of spring. Many of the
stoutest of Morgoth's foes are killed at the very beginning of the
war . Most of the Sindar flee south and sought refuge in Doriath,
Nargothrond and the Falas . Others flee to the Green-elves in
Ossiriand and even over Ered Lindon into "the wild". Thus the
rumour of the fighting reaches Men in the east of Middle-earth.
Finarfin's sons bear the brunt of the attack; Angrod and Aegnor are
slain, along with most of the warriors of the First House of the Edain
. Finrod Felagund is trapped with a small company in the Fen of
Serech, but is rescued at great cost by Barahir. Barahir gets the
all-important Ring of Barahir and is now lord of the First House. Most
of his people flee to Hithlum . In Hithlum, the forces of Fingolfin
are driven back behind the Ered Wethrin, which they barely hold against
the assault. Hador and his son Gundor are slain. Fingolfin and his
forces are penned in their land and cannot aid the other Elven realms.
In the east, the war has been going Morgoth's way. Celegorm and
Curufin are driven out of their lands (at great cost to Morgoth), and
seek refuge in Nargothrond. Maedhros manages to defend Himring, and
retakes the pass of Aglon - many of the survivors of the other
Feanorian realms and Dorthonion rally there to him. But the Feanorian
horsemen were overwhelmed on Lothlann; Glaurung is there and he ravages
all of Maglor's land east of Himring. Thargelion is taken by Orcs,
who "defile"  Lake Helevorn. Caranthir flees to Amrod and
Amras with "a remnant of his people". Maglor joins Maedhros on
When Fingolfin learns of the loss of Dorthonion, the defeat of the
Feanorians and the overthrow of the sons of Finarfin , he is filled
with despair and rides to Angband to challenge Morgoth to single
combat. Now we get some of the best descriptive prose in the entire
Silmarillion. We are told that Morgoth had to accept, even though he
was afraid - "he could not now deny the challenge before the face
of his captains". Morgoth is clad in black "like a tower,
iron-crowned" and his shield "sable unblazoned, cast a shadow over
[Fingolfin] like a storm cloud". Fingolfin "gleamed beneath it
like a star.. and he drew his sword Ringil, that glittered like ice".
Amazingly beautiful stuff.
The outcome though is inevitable. Fingolfin manages to wound Morgoth
seven times, but eventually Fingolfin grows weary. Morgoth manages to
whack him just three times, but eventually Fingolfin stumbles in one of
the pits that Grond has made in the ground. Morgoth places his foot on
Fingolfin's neck to crush him, but with his last stroke, Fingolfin
slashes off the foot . Thorondor rescues the corpe before Morgoth
feeds it to the wolves - in the process managing to slash Morgoth's
face. Fingolfin is buried by Turgon in a cairn in the Echoriath.
Fingon becomes the High King of the Noldor, but he sends his son
Ereinion (Gil-galad) to the Havens .
Barahir and his remaining forces conduct a guerilla campaign against
Morgoth in Dorthonion, which gradually turns into Tarn-nu-Fuin.
Eventually Barahir's wife Emeldir leads the women and children over
the mountains and down into Brethil . Some of the Beorians stay in
Brethil, but the rest press on to Hithlum - including Rian, future
mother of Tuor, and Morwen, future mother of Turin. The men who
remained in Dorthonion are gradually killed until only twelve remain
Now we finally get to hear of Sauron actually doing something during
the War of Beleriand - he has been conspicuously absent from the
preceding chapters. Tol Sirion is attacked "nigh on two years
after" the main assault by Morgoth. Orodreth "warden" of Minas
Tirith is beaten and flees to Nargothrond . Tol Sirion then
becomes Tol-in-Gaurhoth, the Isle of Werewolves, as Sauron is
identified as "a sorcerer of dreadful power...master of phantoms..
lord of werewolves" . With the western pass open to Morgoth, his
forces gradually overrun Beleriand - "he...took their strongholds
one by one" .
Any Sindar and Noldor that are captured are taken to Angband and made
thrall; Morgoth sends out his spies to spread propaganda amongst his
foes, and because of the Kinslaying, his lies are more readily
believed. Even if any of the Noldor did in fact escape, they are
treated as being spies anyway . Morgoth also tries to cozen the
Edain, but without success.
"At this time" other Men enter Beleriand - some of them already
in service to Morgoth, other because they have heard of the wealth of
Beleriand. Maedhros allies himself (and the other Feanorians) with two
of their chieftains: Bor and his sons prove faithful, but Ulfang and
his sons prove false .
The First House of Men is "well-nigh" destroyed and the Third House
is shut in Hithlum. But the Halathrim of Brethil are still intact, and
they destroy an army of Orcs that came through the Pass of Sirion. In
the battle they are assisted by Beleg, who comes out of Doriath with
"great strength of Sindar armed with axes" . Hurin and Huor
take part in the battle, as they are staying with their uncle at that
time. Fostering children with their kindred is "the custom of Men in
that time" . The two boys are cut off from the main army, wander
across Sirion and are picked up by the Eagles of Thorondor and
deposited in Gondolin . The boys get to stay in Gondolin, living
in Turgon's house for "well nigh a year", but eventually they
wish to return home. Turgon allows them to leave, even though his law
is that anyone finding their way to the city cannot leave again.
Maeglin is predictably a little ticked off that the Men can leave when
his father couldn't. The Eagles take the two brothers back to
Dor-lomin, but they will not reveal to their family where they have
spent the last year. Eventually Morgoth's servants learn of their
Meanwhile Turgon thinks that the breaking of the Siege signals the
beginning of the end for the Exiles, and so he sends "companies" of
Gondolindrim down Sirion to the Isle if Balar, where they build ships
and try to sail to Valinor and seek the help of the Valar. "Many
were lost and few returned" .
Seven years after the Bragollach, Morgoth attacked Hithlum again.
Galdor of the Third House is slain defending the walls of Eithel
Sirion, but Hurin drives back the attacking forces. Fingon though is
fighting on the plains of Hithlum with an army that attacked "from
the north" , and is being beaten until Cirdan and the forces of
the Falas sails up the Firth of Drengist and saves the day - just
about the only time that we hear of the Falathrim taking part in any of
the fighting in the First Age .
The chapter finishes with a brief summary of the current state of the
lordship of the Third House, which leads into the story of Beren and
Points for discussion
1 - the Feanorians are singled out as least disposed to hearken to
Fingolfin, but this may be more due to their resentment of having lost
the High Kingship, rather than them being unaware of the threat from
2 - The Noldor's reaction to Fingolfin's ideas indicate the
High-Kingship seems to be more of a ceremonial role than anything else.
If the role was more that of an absolute ruler, then Fingolfin could
have just ordered the mobilization of all forces and the rest of the
Noldorin lords would have had to obey.
3 - The use of "hill-forts" has always suggested to me the Iron Age
earthworks of England and Wales, but it is probably meant to indicate
something more permanent, built it stone, like the great Noldorin
fortress of Eithel Sirion - presumably other passes of the Ered
Wethrin were also heavily defended, and the northern slopes of
4 - The fact that it is only the horsemen of Hithlum that are mentioned
is noteworthy - where were the Feanorians during the Siege? Earlier
in the Silmarillion we learn that Maedhros gave many horses to
Fingolfin to atone for his losses while crossing the Helcaraxe, and
they throve and multiplied. Later in this chapter though we hear of
how the riders of the Sons of Feanor were overwhelmed by Glaurung upon
Lothlann, the plain to the south-west of Ard-galen. Does this then
indicate that the Feanorians were "in reserve", or were the
Noldorin forces rotated in and out of siege duty and it was
Fingolfin's bad luck that his forces were on the front line when the
5 - the rivers of flame and the poisonous fumes are clear evidence
that Thangorodrim and Ered Engrin were volcanic. Fast-flowing rivers
of flame seem to be pyroclastic flows, defined as: lateral flowage of a
turbulent mixture of hot gases and unsorted pyroclastic material
(volcanic fragments, crystals, ash, pumice, and glass shards) that can
move at high speed (50 to 100 miles an hour.) Lava just doesn't
move that fast, especially over a flat plain. Presumably some of the
Noldor died from the poisonous fumes as well, even though the chapter
says "many of the Noldor perished in the burning...[who] could not
fly to the hills".
5 - this is the only time we actually hear of the Balrogs taking part
in the Bragollach - after this one mention they do not get any page
time. Preusmably their role in the battle was to lead armies that
assaulted the various Elven forces and maybe take on any Elven lords in
one-on-one fighting. Angrod and Aegnor may well have been slain by
Balrogs leading the assault on Dorthonion, we just don't have any
evidence of Balrog activity.
6 - the Bragollach is called both a battle and a war. Given that it
lasted something like two months, it seems "war" is a more
7- Elwe had previously said to the Noldor that they could only settle
in those lands where the Sindar did not already dwell. However, we
then learn that after the Aglareb, the Noldor and the Sindar "in many
parts of the land...became welded into one people". The comment in
the current chapter that many of the Sindar fled the northern war
implies that the Grey Elves were still somehow distinct from the
Noldor, thus contradicted the "one people" idea. It may be that
the Sindar accepted the Noldor as their lords, but maintained their own
separate houses - in Gondolinfor instance, with its large Sindarin
population, one of the gates of the Orfalch Echor is manned mainly by
Sindar, which implies the Grey Elves were distinguishable as a separate
part of the population even after living in the Hidden Kingdom for
almost four hundred years.
8 - since "the sons of Finarfin bore most heavily the brunt of the
assault" and the First House of the Edain was practically wiped out,
this suggests that Morgoth's battle plan seems to have been exactly
the same as in the Aglareb - that is, assault Dorthonion - even
though it was a total failure in the Third Battle. Presumably though,
the destruction of the Elven forces on Ard-galen meant that the Eldar
could not repeat their winning tactics from the previous battle.
9 - it is not clear if this forced evacuation of the First House is
the same as that mentioned later in the chapter, when Emeldir the
Manhearted leads the women and children out of Dorthonion. In this
brief passage, there is no mention of the refuges making their way to
Brethil before Hithlum, although this could just be due to summary
nature of the writing at this point in the chapter.
10 - how do the Orcs "defile" and entire lake? Perhaps they
destroyed its sources (like Glaurung did at Ivrin) or fill it full of
bodies of slain Elves of Thargelion.
11 - the overthrow of the sons of Finarfin seems to be dramatic
licence, since Finrod and Orodreth are clearly still alive after the
initial assault of the Bragollach, and indeed Tol Sirion is defended by
Orodreth for "nigh on two years" after the main war. Presumably
the meaning is when Finarfin heard of the deaths of Angrod and Aegnor,
ie those sons of Finarfin who had been overthrown, rather then the
overthrow of ALL the sons of Finarfin.
12 - it is never quite clear if Fingolfin dies from having his
neck/throat crushed, or whether it is Morgoth's blood that "gushed
forth black and smoking" from his severed foot that killed him. I
suspect the latter.
13 - this is the first mention of Gil-galad in the Silmarillion, into
which he was retroactively inserted after the publication of Lord of
the Rings. The fact that he is sent to the Havens for safety, coupled
with the armed assistance the Falathrim give the Noldor of Hithlum
later in this chapter seems to suggest there was some special bond
between the two realms.
14 - this can only mean that they passed through the Ered Grogoroth
and Nan Dungorthen, but nothing is said of the it except they came to
Brethil "with loss and misery". Later, the same journey made by
Beren is considered to be "not least amongst the deeds of Beren".
15 - Barahir, Beren, Baragund and Belegund are all descendants of
Beor. Radhruin ("????-flame"); Dairuin ("great-flame"?);
Dagnir ("bane"); Ragnir (no idea); Gildor ("star-land?");
Gorlim ("dread-light"?); Arthad ("double-????"); Urthel
("hot-spring"?); and Hathaldir ("????") are described as
"nine faithful servants" but presumably they were "servants"
only in the sense of providing armed service to the lords of the First
16 - Orodreth, like all the sons of Finarfin except Finrod, is a bit
of an undeveloped character in the published Silmarillion. In the Narn
i Hin Hurin, we see him being a somewhat dithering ruler of
Nargothrond, yet clearly he was sufficiently trusted by his brother to
be warden of Minas Tirith. In JRRT's later work on the legends of
the First Age, he toyed with the idea of changing Orodreth from
Finarfin's son to Angrod's son, and brother of Finduilas (rather
than her father).
17 - "a dark cloud of fear dell upon those that defended [Minas
Tirith]" - this sounds very like the power of the Witch King and
other Nazgul during the War of the Ring. Where does this fear come
18 - to which strongholds is the text referring? We know that
Morgoth did not know anything of Nargothrond until it was revealed to
him by the policies of Turin. Gondolin likewise was hidden from him.
19 - this in fact is not the case when Gwindor returns to
20 - it is not clear from the text whether either or both of Bor and
Ulfang entered Beleriand already in the service of Morgoth or not.
Morgoth is said to have been "well content" with both of them
swearing allegiance to the Noldor, which might imply that they were
already on allied with Angband.
21 - the Sindar are generally associated with axes, presumably
because their armories were filled by the Dwarves of the Blue
Mountains. Their use of axes is also mentioned in Unfinished Tales,
when Tuor is climbing the Orfalch Echor. The guards of the Third Gate
are armed with axes and are "for the most part" made up of Sindar
22 - no explanation given for why this would be the custom. I assume
that it was started by Hador Lorindol being taken into the household of
23 - this seems a rather independent-minded thing for Thorondor to
do, unless Turgon had previously shared with him the "messages and
dreams" that Ulmo had sent him concerning the sons of the house of
24 - the number sent out by Turgon stated differently in Unfinished
Tales. Voronwe says that Turgon sent out "a few only, upon a secret
errand", with no mention of "companies" of Elves being
dispatched. We never hear of the fate of the "few" that returned
- Voronwe doesn't mention them when talking to Tuor about the
missions to Valinor in Unfinished Tales.
25 - here again is another puzzling reference to the topography of
Hithlum and its northern regions. If an army from Angband can attack
Hithlum from the north, this implies that either Hithlum is directly
exposed to assault from Angband that direction, or else there are
mountain passes in Ered Wethrin north of Eithel Sirion that an army can
use. If it is the former, why would Morgoth expend all his forces
constantly attacking Eithel Sirion? If it is the latter, why weren't
there fortresses similar to Eithel Sirion guarding more northerly
passes? At the end of the battle, the arhced horsemint of the Elves
pursue the Orcs "into the Iron Mountains" which could imply that
the Ered Engrin were the northern wall of Hithlum.
26 - How did the Elves of the Falas manage to get there in the nick of
time by sea? Perhaps they had a palantir with which they were able to
foresee the assault (which begs the question why didn't the Elves of
Hithlum do the same thing). Or perhaps Cirdan was pre-warned by Ulmo,
and was dispatched to save the day.
Sorry to kick off with a nit-pick, but I didn't understand this bit:
> 25 - [...] At the end of the battle, the arhced horsemint of the Elves
> pursue the Orcs "into the Iron Mountains"
arhced horsemint?? :-)
This makes me think of horsemeat served with a mint garnishing!
***** snippus maximux******
> The outcome though is inevitable. Fingolfin manages to wound Morgoth
> seven times, but eventually Fingolfin grows weary. Morgoth manages to
> whack him just three times, but eventually Fingolfin stumbles in one of
> the pits that Grond has made in the ground. Morgoth places his foot on
> Fingolfin's neck to crush him, but with his last stroke, Fingolfin
> slashes off the foot . Thorondor rescues the corpe before Morgoth
> feeds it to the wolves - in the process managing to slash Morgoth's
> face. Fingolfin is buried by Turgon in a cairn in the Echoriath.
> Fingon becomes the High King of the Noldor, but he sends his son
> Ereinion (Gil-galad) to the Havens .
I always wished Fingolfin had immediately gone for Melkor's hamstrings.
Then he'd have spent eternity pushing himself around on a little wheeled
Such a cart would no doubt spew fire and fume -- maybe Morgoth would start
eating jalapenos for a boost. I doubt he'd be singing "O Bess I'm on my
way!" Probably get a Balrog instead of a goat to pull it.
>> I always wished Fingolfin had immediately gone for Melkor's hamstrings.
>> Then he'd have spent eternity pushing himself around on a little wheeled
> Such a cart would no doubt spew fire and fume -- maybe Morgoth would start
> eating jalapenos for a boost. I doubt he'd be singing "O Bess I'm on my
> way!" Probably get a Balrog instead of a goat to pull it.
And beside him on the cart would stand an Orc who whispered in his ear:
"Remember that you are immortal."
I am afraid I have very little to add, but anyway:
> This is another monster chapter in the Silmarillion, not quite up
> there with "Of Turin Turambar", but there is a lot of information.
And it looks quite compressed, too. You seem to have looked up at
least some of the sources in HoME. So did CT compile this chapter
from various sources, or is it from an "overview" text by Tolkien
> Fostering children with their kindred is "the custom of Men in
> that time" .
> 22 - no explanation given for why this would be the custom. I assume
> that it was started by Hador Lorindol being taken into the household of
Does anyone know on what custom this is modelled? I seem to remember
that in the scandinavic legends, it was usual at some time to exchange
children and let them be fostered by relatives or even potential
enemies (as hostages, to ensure peace). Can anyone supply details?
> 5 - the rivers of flame and the poisonous fumes are clear evidence
> that Thangorodrim and Ered Engrin were volcanic.
So again there's the image of a natural phenomenon mixed with
a second level of meaning.
> 21 - the Sindar are generally associated with axes, presumably
> because their armories were filled by the Dwarves of the Blue
Interesting -- I didn't notice that.
> Does anyone know on what custom this is modelled? I seem to remember
> that in the scandinavic legends, it was usual at some time to exchange
> children and let them be fostered by relatives or even potential
> enemies (as hostages, to ensure peace). Can anyone supply details?
According to the sagas it was quite customary for friends to foster each
others' sons. But it implied humility: to foster someone else's son was to
place yourself under him. I seem to remember a bit from Snorri Sturlusson's
sagas: once the King of Norway received a sword from the King of England, in
a tricksy way that implied that the Norwegian King accepted his English
colleague as his liege-lord. Likewise might a warrior enter the service of
a king or other lord, as a warrior of his house-hold perhaps, and receive
from him a sword with which to perform the service.
So he responded by sending one of his sons to England, where the King put
the boy on his knee. This implied that he accepted to foster the boy, and
that he had thereby put himself lower than his Norwegian colleague. When
this was pointed out to him he drew his sword in anger, but relented and did
not slay the boy. It was commented in the saga that "at the time it was
custom that to foster another's son was to place yourself beneath him".
I may be mistaken about the details, but I'm certain of the subservience
part, which extended apparently to a wider part of the Germanic culture than
just the Norse.
Perhaps it was more complicated than that, and that a man of high social
status might foster a lower-placed man's son, and not be considered beneath
the biological father because of this, but responding perhaps to a debt of
gratitude, showing great favour and bestowing honour.
"...and the fell sound of Morgoth did rise upon the Ard-Galen [or
Anfauglith at this point???]. The sons of Feanor trembled at the sound
of Arda defiled, for the strength of Morgoth was in it. And none stood
fast, not rank of Fingon. Fingolfin's son, nor dwarf of Belegost. The
Houses of Men stood aghast. The armies of Man, of Dwarf, of Noldor
stood silent, tormented by the piercing sounds of the dark Vala coming
to the field. In the silence, nought could be heard, but the defilement
"'Squeak squeak squeak,' it went."
A bit belated, I'm afaid, but better late than never, they say.
> Fingolfin (as High King) thinks it could be time to assault Angband
> - the Noldor have increased in numbers, they have allied with the
> Sindar, and with the recently-arrived Men.
And this idea could be 'wise according to the measure of his
knowledge' because 'the Noldor did not yet comprehend the fulness of
the power of Morgoth'.
The irony is, of course, that one Noldo had, in fact, comprehended
'that no power of the Noldor would ever overthrow' the Peaks of
Thangorodrim: Fëanor had realized this 'with the foresight of death';
he had nevertheless not only remained silent about it, but had laid
it upon his sons to keep their oath, essentially commanding them
/knowingly/ to squander themselves in vain.
> But "most of the Noldor" have grown accustomed to and somewhat
> indolent in their new realms in Beleriand, and so generally do not
> want to go marching off to fight .
I get some very ambiguous impressions about this. It seems to me,
despite what we're told about the futility of it, that Tolkien is
sympathizing with Fingolfin -- that it would have been right for the
Noldor to attack, even if futile. Morally this would be akin to the
idea of pity being valuable precisely if exercised /against/
prudence. I don't really know what that might mean, though ;)
> Only those lords of the Noldor that live within sight of
> Thangorodrim pay him any heed .
> But during the Long Peace Morgoth has been biding his time,
> his forces and stoking his hatred.
And it is said that his hate overcame his counsel, so that
if he had but endured to wait longer, until his designs
were full, then the Noldor would have perished utterly.
This reminds me both of Théoden in LotR citing the old adage that
'oft evil will shall evil mar,' but also of Sauron, who, according
to Gandalf, had 'not built up his power by waiting until his enemies
are secure, as we have done.'
Shippey, in /Author of the Century/ uses an entire chapter in his
analysis of /The Lord of the Rings/ on 'Concepts of Evil'.
Shippey mentions two views on evil, Boethian (which poses that evil
is nothing in itself, only the absence of good), and Manichaean
(which poses a dualism -- that evil does exist, and 'the world is a
battlefield between the powers of Good and Evil, equal and opposite
-- so that, one might say, there is no real difference between
I wonder what view (or views) on evil is empodied in Morgoth and in
Morgoth seems to me in many ways to precisely embody the power of
Evil in the Manichaean view, but at the same time we learn enough
about Morgoth's thoughts to know that his evil in many ways can be
described as an absence of good.
> Glaurung leads the assault, with Balrogs in his train and
> multitudes of Orcs .
In the front of that fire came Glaurung the golden,
father of dragons, in his full might; and in his train were
Balrogs, and behind them came the black armies of the Orcs
I'm a bit confused, actually, about arraying of Morgoth's forces
Are we to understand that Morgoth's armies went /before/ the fires?
That would be contrary to the images I got elsewhere of Noldor being
caught up by the fire, rather than the enemy.
Or does it mean that Glaurung and the Balrogs were attacking
literally under the cover of the fire? And what, then, about the Orcs
-- I don't think they had any special resistance to the fires, so
they'd probably have be behind the fire (otherwise they'd be roasted
along with the Noldor, caught up by the fire while fighting).
It is possible to come up with other scenarios that would match the
descriptions, but all in all it seems to me more likely that Glarung
and the Balrogs would be attacking from inside the fire, whereas the
Orcs were there to follow up, killing all enemies who didn't die from
> Points for discussion
> 1 - the Feanorians are singled out as least disposed to hearken to
> Fingolfin, but this may be more due to their resentment of having
> lost the High Kingship, rather than them being unaware of the
> threat from Angband.
I am not sure that the motivation of the Fëanorians can, in all
situations, be considered as one -- they don't exactly strike me as
pursuing a consensus policy even in this regard ;)
Some of them may have been content to let the Oath (and the Doom)
sleep for as long as possible (perhaps even hoping that it would not
waken unless they themselves woke it). They would probably, I think,
see some kind of equivalence between Morgoth and the Doom of the
Noldor, as they certainly saw Morgoth as the target of the
blasphemous Fëanorian Oath. Those who would like to see the Oath
sleep, however, would also, I think, be those most likely to accept
Fingolfin as High King.
Other of the sons of Fëanor would doubtlessly resent Fingolfin's High
Kingship, and would work against his advice and policies on
> 2 - The Noldor's reaction to Fingolfin's ideas indicate the High
> Kingship seems to be more of a ceremonial role than anything
> else. If the role was more that of an absolute ruler, then
> Fingolfin could have just ordered the mobilization of all
> forces and the rest of the Noldorin lords would have had to
Historically the idea of absolute monarchy didn't emerge in Europe,
IIRC, until the late middle ages / early rennaisance, and as such
might probably not have been appropriate here for that reason alone,
but that didn't seem to stop Tolkien in other situations (Doriath,
Númenor, Arnor, Gondor etc. all seems to have been ruled by an
It is more likely that the missing absolutism of Fingolfin's rule was
due to other factors: personal idiosyncrasies, a personal humility, a
weakness due to his holding the position by Maedhros' generosity. I
think that we could imagine many explanations.
It is, perhaps, also noteworthy that Elendil, as the High King of the
kingdoms of the Dúnedain after the downfall, apparently wasn't
absolute either -- Isildur and Anárion seems to have had a wide
degree of freedom in their governing of Gondor.
> 3 - The use of "hill-forts" has always suggested to me the Iron
> Age earthworks of England and Wales, but it is probably meant to
> indicate something more permanent, built it stone, like the great
> Noldorin fortress of Eithel Sirion - presumably other passes of
> the Ered Wethrin were also heavily defended, and the northern
> slopes of Dorthonion likewise.
Given that they had had four hundred years to construct something
more permanent, I suspect that you're right.
'Hill-forts' has always, to me, suggested merely fortifications on
hill-tops -- I don't think I've ever really wondered about the nature
of these fortifications, but I suppose that they would stand in the
foot-hills of the Mountains of Shadow, so good stone sholdn't be too
hard to get. I suppose that it would also be reasonable to
understand it to refer to less permanent structures on or about hills
on the actual plain itself, rather than permanent fortifications on
the edges of the plain.
> 4 - The fact that it is only the horsemen of Hithlum that are
> mentioned is noteworthy - where were the Feanorians during the
I think their strongholds were much further away from Thangorodrim --
they patrolled the eastern parts of the plain, but their
fortifications were along the 'March of Maedhros' and the Hill of
Himring. I don't know if the 'Sudden Flame' ever reached that far, or
if the patrols of the Fëanorians were caught in the open, and their
strongholds attacked in more conventional ways, but they surely
didn't live in regions where Thangorodrim could be seen.
> 5 - the rivers of flame and the poisonous fumes are clear evidence
> that Thangorodrim and Ered Engrin were volcanic.
Is it now? ;)
Thangorodrim, the mountains of oppression, were created, although the
process bears strong similarities to that of volcanos:
Beneath Ered Engrin he made a great tunnel, which issued
south of the mountains; and there he made a mighty gate.
But above this gate, and behind it even to the mountains,
he piled the thunderous towers of Thangorodrim, that were
made of the ash and slag of his subterranean furnaces, and
the vast refuse of his tunnellings. They were black and
desolate and exceedingly lofty; and smoke issued from
their tops, dark and foul upon the northern sky.
[Silm QS,14 'Of Beleriand and Its Realms']
The difficulty is, of course, that Morgoth may have been able to
create actual magma chambers etc. for his 'subterrainean furnaces',
and thus used the tunnel as an outlet, so that the end result is
indistinguishable from a volcanic range -- and of course Sauron's
furnace in the Second and Third ages was an actual vulcano
(presumably predating Sauron's occupation of Mordor).
Thangorodrim, however, is specifically stated to have been created by
'ash and slag' and 'vast refuse of his tunnelings' -- not of the
basalt of volcaninc eruptions.
> Fast-flowing rivers of flame seem to be pyroclastic flows,
They might, and I think the comparison is quite apt. There is,
however, also another possibility that I think ought to be
considered: that the inspiration to this scene stems not from
vulcanos, but from the battle-field of Somme: attacks with chlorine
gas, fire-bombs etc. could create the same imagery of fire and gas as
'liquid'; flowing, as it were, towards the defenders.
> 5 - this is the only time we actually hear of the Balrogs taking
> part in the Bragollach - after this one mention they do
> any page time.
Overall the Balrogs don't get very much page time at all. They're
mentioned in the Valaquenta, and as driving away Ungoliant, but
considering that they were actual Maiar it seems to me that they had
a surprisingly small role to play in the wars.
> Preusmably their role in the battle was to lead armies that
> assaulted the various Elven forces and maybe take on any
> Elven lords in one-on-one fighting.
And of course in this case they had a special role as spirits of fire
-- together with Glaurung they were eminently suited to attack under
the cover of 'Sudden Flame'.
> Angrod and Aegnor may well have been slain by Balrogs leading
> the assault on Dorthonion, we just don't have any evidence of
> Balrog activity.
> 6 - the Bragollach is called both a battle and a war. Given that
> it lasted something like two months, it seems "war" is a
> appropriate term.
Yes, I meant to ask about that. The Grey Annals give the start to 'In
the winter, at the year's beginning', which probably makes the battle
last a couple of months, as you say. Tolkien had, however,
participated in the Battle of Somme, which lasted from 1st of July to
18th of November 1916 (according to Wikipedia[*]), so a two-month
battle would probably not seem extraordinary.
> 7 - Elwe had previously said to the Noldor that they could only
> settle in those lands where the Sindar did not already dwell.
It appears that he forgot to make allowances for Sindar wanting to
move to those lands where the Noldor settled ;)
And of course it was remarked upon already from the beginning that
all Thingol's request amounted to was to say that the Noldor
shouldn't settle in lands where he could maintain sovereignty:
Maedhros laughed, saying: 'A king is he that can hold his
own, or else his title is vain. Thingol does but grant us
lands where his power does not run. [...]'
[Silm QS,13 'Of the Return of the Noldor']
> However, we then learn that after the Aglareb, the Noldor and the
> Sindar "in many parts of the land...became welded into one
> people". The comment in the current chapter that many of the
> Sindar fled the northern war implies that the Grey Elves were
> still somehow distinct from the Noldor, thus contradicted the "one
> people" idea.
In theory it could well be true 'in many parts of the land', and
still have the Sindar fly the northern war. Depending on whether this
one welded-together[#] people thought of themselves as mainly
Sindarin or mainly Noldorin, they might have been among those flying
the northern war, or those fighting it.
[#] I miss the Danish construct where, if two things are welded
together, they become "togetherwelded" ;-)
But of course the Sindar and the Noldor would never be really
indistinguishable -- they would always be divided by the Great Sea,
so to speak, being either Úamanyar, or Amanyar (and, supposedly)
those descended from Amanyar. Only much later would there have been
born enough children to the Noldor to make that distinction truly
> It may be that the Sindar accepted the Noldor as their lords, but
> maintained their own separate houses
Given the life-cycles of the Elves, I thiink it would take longer
than the 500 years for the populations to mingle more deeply by
marriage and children. Culturally they might have become one people
in a couple of hundred years, though.
> 9 - it is not clear if this forced evacuation of the First House
> is the same as that mentioned later in the chapter, when Emeldir
> the Manhearted leads the women and children out of Dorthonion.
> In this brief passage, there is no mention of the refuges making
> their way to Brethil before Hithlum, although this could just be
> due to summary nature of the writing at this point in the
I think we're dealing with two distinct events here. The first flight
is of 'most of his people fled', but at that time Barahir remained
with a small part of his people, defending the land. Later, when the
luck of the war was continuously against Barahir, the remaining women
and children (probably quite a small group) fled under Emeldir, while
their men stayed with their Lord to fight -- eventually being reduced
to that famous gang of Barahir and his twelve companions (thirteen in
all; at which point it was, of course, doomed to go bad). The
description of Emeldir gathering 'all the women and children that
were left' suggests to both that this group wasn't very great
(definitely not 'most of his people'), but also that this was not the
first group to flee -- this was all those who were left.
> 10 - how do the Orcs "defile" and entire lake? Perhaps they
> destroyed its sources (like Glaurung did at Ivrin) or fill it
> of bodies of slain Elves of Thargelion.
I'd say bodies and the poisonous refuse from Morgoth's furnaces etc.
-- like the waste before the Morannon in later days, but at a larger
> 12 - it is never quite clear if Fingolfin dies from having his
> neck/throat crushed, or whether it is Morgoth's blood that
> "gushed forth black and smoking" from his severed foot that
> killed him. I suspect the latter.
This passage seems to stem from the LQ series (referring to the post-
LotR, Later, work of the Quenta Silmarillion), but this was only
lightly emended from the pre-LotR version of the Quenta Silmarillion
given in HoMe V, /The Lost Road/. The version found in 'The Grey
Annals', however, implies, I believe, rather that Fingolfin was
already dying from the crushing weight of Morgoth's foot as he stroke
at the foot with his dying strength:
§157 [...]. But wearied at last Fingolfin fell, beaten
to the earth by the hammer of Angband, and Morgoth set his
foot upon his neck and crushed him.
§157 In his last throe Fingolfin pinned the foot of his
Enemy to the earth with Ringil, and the black blood gushed
forth and filled the pits of Grond. Morgoth went ever halt
[/The War of the Jewels/, HoMe11, I 'The Grey Annals' annal for 456]
The idea here, as I read it, is that Fingolfin is already dying, and
that the strike against Morgoth's foot is, as it says, 'his last
throe', so he would probably have been already dead before the 'pits
of Grond' could be filled with Morgoth's black blood.
> 13 - this is the first mention of Gil-galad in the Silmarillion,
> into which he was retroactively inserted after the publication of
> Lord of the Rings.
There is some confusion about Gil-galad in the texts, but it seems
that CJRT is ultimately satisfied that the published /Silmarillion/
is in error when making him the son of Fingon -- Orodreth, the
defender of Tol Sirion, would have been a better choice, it seems.
Tolkien's first attempt, as CJRT summarizes it, was to try to make
Gil-galad the son of Finrod Felagund, but for some reason that was
abandoned. The only reason that I can see for this is in Finrod's
sacrifice for Beren -- to abandon everything to keep his promise
would be morally problematic if he had a wife and an son to take care
of (it could even be seen as problematic as it is).
> The fact that he is sent to the Havens for safety, coupled with
> the armed assistance the Falathrim give the Noldor of Hithlum
> later in this chapter seems to suggest there was some special
> bond between the two realms.
I don't know about a 'special bond', but already in ch. 14 we hear
about a friendship and alliance between Círdan and Finrod:
[...] and Finrod became the overlord of all the Elves of
Beleriand between Sirion and the sea, save only in the
Falas. There dwelt those of the Sindar who still loved
ships, and Círdan the shipbuilder was their lord; but
between Círdan and Finrod there was friendship and
alliance, and with the aid of the Noldor the havens of
Brithombar and Eglarest were built anew.
[Silm QS,14 'Of Beleriand and Its Realms']
It seems to me that the reception of the Noldor outside Doriath was
generally very positive, and that the Sindar didn't mind taking
Noldorin lords, whatever Thingol might say about it ;)
The passage also gives a very specific reason for the Falathrim to be
allied with the Noldor; the Noldor helped rebuild Brithombar and
Eglarest. With respect to sending Gil-galad to the Havens, that was
clearly the safest place to put him; with a clear escape route where
none of Morgoth's servants would pursue him.
> 14 - this can only mean that they passed through the Ered
> Grogoroth and Nan Dungorthen,
My impression is that they went through the Pass of Anach between the
Crissaegrim and the Ered Gorgoroth -- that would also put them on a
more direct path to Brethil.
It is possible that their route was more convoluted, but I doubt that
it took them to the Nan Dungortheb or even the southern slopes of the
Mountains of Terror.
> but nothing is said of the it except they came to Brethil "with
> loss and misery".
Which would doubtlessly have been true for any journey in those
dangerous times :)
> 15 - Barahir, Beren, Baragund and Belegund are all descendants of
And for those who, like me, occasionally find it difficult to keep
track of all this, the Encyclopedia of Arda has the family trees ;)
I like the game of 'guess the meaning' for the names (someone will
probably ruin it by pointing out where they are all translated <G>).
I assume that all the names, like 'Dagnir' are of Sindarin origin,
though of course, if they are in the language of the First House,
then all our effort is in vain ;)
> Radhruin ("????-flame");
Red (flame) path/wanderer? (Râd-ruin)
Crooked wose? (Raeg-drúin)
> Dairuin ("great-flame"?);
Shadow (red) flame? (Dae-ruin)
> Dagnir ("bane");
As in Dagnir Glaurunga
> Ragnir (no idea);
Ragnor -- 'crooked runner'? (Raeg-nor)
> Gildor ("star-land?");
Star-lord (according to Fauskanger's Ardalambion)
> Gorlim ("dread-light"?);
Gorn (1) = impetuous
Gorn (2) = valour
Gorog/Gorod/Gorth/Gorthad = horror
lim (1) = further / onwards (as in 'noro lim')
lim (2) = clear / sparkling / light
lim (3) = fish
Unless somebody wants to argue that Gorlim was an impetuous fish, I
think I'll subscribe to dread-light as the most likely ;)
> Arthad ("double-????");
Lord's shield? (Âr-thand)
Lord's support ? (Âr-taid)
> Urthel ("hot-spring"?);
Steady heat? (Ûr-thelion)
Hot spear(-point)? (Urui-thela)
> and Hathaldir ("????")
> are described as "nine faithful servants" but presumably they were
> "servants" only in the sense of providing armed service to the
> lords of the First House.
Yes, they shouldn't be thought of as butlers and manservants :-D
> 16 - Orodreth, like all the sons of Finarfin except Finrod, is
> a bit of an undeveloped character in the published Silmarillion.
Good point, there. The cast in the Silmarillion is so large that even
a number of the main characters are actually under-developed. Of the
Noldorin High Kings in Middle-earth the ones we get to know best are
Fëanor and Turgon -- none of whom I think are terribly well
So, we get to know the main characters of the great stories quite
well: Fëanor, Tuor, Túrin, Beren and Lúthien. Eärendil would
probably, had Tolkien ever got around to telling the story of his
voyages, have been one more main character we had got to know fairly
Part of this is that even these characters, the main characters of
the main tales of the Silmarillion (which co-incide with the early
lays), none of them, however, remain on the page for long enough for
the reader to get them fully into focus. Túrin, if we add what
material is there outside the published /Silmarillion/, is probably
the one character that is the described in most detail (although I
think Tolkien may have had the clearest image of Lúthien for reasons
entirely external to his mythology).
Now, as we've talked about in another thread recently, the scene of
the modern novel is often inside the head of the main character, from
where we get to experience the unfolding events as they perceive
them, so I am tempted to ask, not only /if/ this is a problem for
/The Silmarillion/, but also in which ways and why? ;-)
It is obvious that the Silmarillion was never meant to be a book of
that sort, so it is clearly not a problem with respect to the book's
own intentions, but it might be a problem for the average reader out
there -- one of the reasons why so few people ever manage to finish
> In the Narn i Hin Hurin, we see him being a somewhat dithering
> ruler of Nargothrond,
I don't know about 'dithering' exactly in the Narn -- it seems to me
rather that he is almost 'seduced' by Túrin's fervour and force of
personality. However, in the story of Beren and Lúthien, just after
receiving the crown from Felagund he was impotent against the sons of
Fëanor, because they swayed the people to treacherously betray the
Overall I agree that Orodreth appears one of the weaker Noldorin
> yet clearly he was sufficiently trusted by his brother to be warden
> of Minas Tirith.
I guess that that isn't entirely unusual -- that someone is a fine
leader as long as they have a higher authority to derive their power
from, but they're too weak to establish their own authority when they
> In JRRT's later work on the legends of the First Age, he toyed with
> the idea of changing Orodreth from Finarfin's son to Angrod's son,
> and brother of Finduilas (rather than her father).
> 17 - "a dark cloud of fear dell upon those that defended [Minas
> Tirith]" - this sounds very like the power of the Witch King and
> other Nazgul during the War of the Ring. Where does this fear
> come from?
To some extent I think this derives from the difference between
Morgoth and Sauron. Sauron always, I think, wanted to dominate the
Children of Ilúvatar rather than destroy them, and in some ways I
think the domination could be more terrifying than being killed --
Morgoth's former slaves certainly scared the elves witless as well.
> 18 - to which strongholds is the text referring? We know that
> Morgoth did not know anything of Nargothrond until it was revealed
> to him by the policies of Turin. Gondolin likewise was hidden
> from him.
Tol Sirion surely wasn't the only fortress in the leaguer of Angband
-- I seem to recall mention of strongholds in the Ered Wethrin
(wasn't there one near Eithel Sirion?), and wherever the Noldor
settled, I think they'd make strongholds to defend their lands.
> Even if any of the Noldor did in fact escape, they are treated as
> being spies anyway .
> 19 - this in fact is not the case when Gwindor returns to
Yes, the reception of Gwindor is unusual, although that might be due
also to the further circumstances surrounding his escape -- the
freeing of Túrin etc. And of course Finduilas probably plays a role
in that as well.
> 20 - it is not clear from the text whether either or both of Bor
> and Ulfang entered Beleriand already in the service of Morgoth or
I've never really though about it, I admit -- merely thought that
they were already doing Morgoth's work before coming to Beleriand,
but you're right; it isn't really clear whether they were actually in
Morgoth's service or if he merely counted on them to be swayed to his
service (his 'hope' which Bór's sons cheated).
> 23 - this seems a rather independent-minded thing for Thorondor to
> do, unless Turgon had previously shared with him the "messages and
> dreams" that Ulmo had sent him concerning the sons of the house of
The Eagles are Manwë's emmisaries -- possibly even Maiar -- and I
don't know if it is necessary to look further than that for an
explanation: in many ways Thorondor would be as likely to receive
premonitions as Turgon himself.
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put '[AFT]', '[RABT]' or 'Tolkien' in subject.
++?????++ Out of Cheese Error. Redo From Start.
- /Interesting Times/ (Terry Pratchett)
Melian would know. Thingol did not go to this battle and did not give
the sons of Feanor the silmaril despite their demand. Melian advises
him to do the latter but no comment is made which way she advised him
on the former.
I would guess that Melian is trying two things by the return of the
silmaril (1) to disentangle Doriath from the doom and (2) hoping
against hope that the sons of Feanor having received one silmaril
freely might renounce their oath (it is one way the Valar might
intervene and Morgoth defeated). (2) is very speculative.
She would not suggest that Thingol take his troops to war because she
knows it is hopeless and would only hasten the downfall of Doriath.
Though in the case of Finrod and his brethren, they were also close
kin of Thingol (grandchildren of his brother Olwe who had been
co-leader with Thingol in the march west). Having Gil-Galad be of
that family also helps explain Gil-Galad being High King of both
Noldor and Sindar in the Second Age.
> The passage also gives a very specific reason for the Falathrim to be
> allied with the Noldor; the Noldor helped rebuild Brithombar and
> Eglarest. With respect to sending Gil-galad to the Havens, that was
> clearly the safest place to put him; with a clear escape route where
> none of Morgoth's servants would pursue him.
|\* | Emma Pease Net Spinster
|_\/ Die Luft der Freiheit weht
> > Gorlim ("dread-light"?);
> Gorn (1) = impetuous
> Gorn (2) = valour
> Gorog/Gorod/Gorth/Gorthad = horror
> lim (1) = further / onwards (as in 'noro lim')
> lim (2) = clear / sparkling / light
> lim (3) = fish
> Unless somebody wants to argue that Gorlim was an impetuous fish, I
> think I'll subscribe to dread-light as the most likely ;)
FATS claims that gorlim was an eel. they would.
[The meaning of the name 'Gorlim']
>> Unless somebody wants to argue that Gorlim was an impetuous fish,
>> I think I'll subscribe to dread-light as the most likely ;)
> FATS claims that gorlim was an eel. they would.
I guess the FATS research can be generally characterized rather as
innovative and the abolition of set mental patterns -- it's true
contribution to the sum of knowledge is, perhaps, not measured justly
if you look simply at results; the contribution to research processes
must also be considered.
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put '[AFT]', '[RABT]' or 'Tolkien' in subject.
The major problem [encountered in time travel] is quite
simply one of grammar, and the main work to consult in this
matter is Dr Dan Streetmentioner's Time Traveller's
Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations.
- Douglas Adams, /The Restaurant at the End of the Universe/
I'd never noticed this before, but the concept of Morgoth's blood
filling pits in the earth, with potentially lethal consequences for
his opponenent, is similar to something from Norse mythology--
When Sigurd slew the dragon Fafnir, his treacherous foster-father
Regin advised him to dig a pit and stab upward at Fafnir's soft
underbelly. Had he taken the advice, he would have been killed by
the dragon's blood when it filled the pit; but an old man, who was
clearly Odin in disguise, advised him to dig several pits first to
catch the blood.
Unfortunately, having multiple pits didn't do Fingolfin any good!
> I guess the FATS research can be generally characterized rather as
> innovative and the abolition of set mental patterns -- it's true
> contribution to the sum of knowledge is, perhaps, not measured justly
> if you look simply at results; the contribution to research processes
> must also be considered.
their Creative Research program is considered state-of-the-art.
If only they would use it for Good instead of Evil, what
great deeds they could do for the Glory of the FAQ, only
Manwe might in some measure conceive...
i think it is a sad story, and might have happened to others, even to
some graduate students that i have known.
the temptation of the Grant is a terrible thing!
None who enter Mrs. Mensenlarger's office will return
from there undamaged - or should I say unchanged...