COTW: Silmarillion, Chapter X. Of the Sindar

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Count Menelvagor

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Mar 22, 2006, 11:57:41 PM3/22/06
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COTW: Silmarillion, Chapter X. Of the Sindar

Not a lot happens in this chapter, which mostly contents itself with
giving a résumé of events and providing a background for later
chapters. True, Melkor does return and the First Battle takes place,
but these events are only summarised, not narrated or described. The
narrator keeps events at arm's length, and the reader isn't really
drawn in.

Synopsis:

Having finished their two-hundred-year hand-holding extravaganza, Elwe
(or Thingol) and Melian carve themselves a domain. The text is a
little vague as to how they go about this, saying only that "the power
of Elwe and Melian increased, and all Beleriand [...] owned Elwe as
their lord". Thingol's subjects were known as the Sindar, or
Grey-elves; and they were the crème de la crème in Middle-earth, even
if they were distinctly middle-class by Valinorean standards. It was
during this peaceful Golden Age, when Melkor was still a captive, that
Lúthien was born.

Also at this time, the Sindar first came into contact with the Dwarves,
whom with charming Elvish ethnocentricity they called the "Stunted
People." (The principal Dwarvish strongholds are listed.) The Elves
found Dwarvish to difficult to learn, but fortunately the Dwarves
learned quickly, and were reluctant at best to teach strangers their
language in any case. Relations between the Sindar and the Dwarves
were cool but correct, and benefited both parties. The Dwarves
preferred the Noldor to other Elves, because of their reverence for
Aule, god/archangel of crafts.

Melian foresaw the end of the captivity of Melkor, and so persuaded
Thingol to build a stronghold with the aid of the Dwarves, who were
happy to do this because it was both profitable and fun. And so the
two kindreds collaborated in building Menegroth, the "Thousand Caves."

As time grew on, the Sindar and the Dwarves became troubled by rumors
of another, nasty people: the Orcs. The Elves thought they might be
Avari who had become evil and savage in the wild. As a result, the
Sindar learned the art of weapon-making from the Dwarves, who had long
been a bellicose lot.

The Nandor moved into Beleriand, and not much else happened for a long
time, apart from Daeron's invention of the Runes, which the Dwarves
valued more than the Sindar, who preserved few records. Orome still
rode in Middle-earth, and everything was spiffy, until it wasn't. Then
Ungoliant fled south and, although Melian kept her out of Doriath, yet
the monster dwelt in the Mountains of Terror, where "life and light
were strangled." Meanwhile, Melkor returned to Angband and rebuilt it,
and Orcs multiplied and assailed Beleriand. The Elves won this First
Battle, but suffered many losses, and evil things roamed about at will,
bringing property values to an appallingly low level. As a result,
Melian fenced off the core of Thingol's realm (henceforth called
Doriath) with the Girdle of Melian.

Comments and Questions

1. Most of this chapter, including the title, comes from a post-LOTR
vision of Middle-earth. The Sindar are descendants of the Ilkorin,
while their language, Sindarin, was originally the speech of the
Noldor. This can be seen in volume 5 of HOME. E.g., in the
Etymologies, the Noldorin forms correspond with what would later be
called Sindarin. Ilkorin forms seem relatively rare; but "alch"
corresponds to Noldorin (now Sindarin) "alph" ("swan").
Tolkien's explanation of the changes in Noldorin are therefore
slightly different (and a good deal more confused) than those in
Sindarin (e.g., Lhammas, LR 188 ff.).

2. The view of Dwarves summarised in this chapter is a post-Hobbit
development. Cf. Lhammas (LR 195): "But the Dwarves have no spirit
indwelling [...] and this the Valar cannot give. Therefore, the
Dwarves have skill and craft, but no art, and they make no poetry."
But this concept soon was modified, to the extent that Dwarvish
soullessness was only one possible view (see CJRT's note, p. 209).

3. How do these changes in Sindar and Dwarves affect the artistic
character of Tolkien's writing? Do they provide a greater range of
perspectives?

4. Why are Elves so cliquish? Reading Tolkien's explanations of the
different divisions of Elves, such as the bit about Sindar being not
too low-class by Moriquendi standards, and certainly a step above those
wretched Avari, sometimes reminds one of a guide to the best country
clubs. Do Elves themselves make a big deal of their relative status?
It seems that "Sylvan" Elves accepted Eldarin rulers well enough
(Galadriel and Celeborn, for example).

5. The Elves seem to have an almost American/British aversion to
learning foreign languages. The Dwarves come off as rather better
linguists, although Tolkien's essay on Eldar and Quendi in WJ assures
us that Elves could learn foreign languages with facility; they just
didn't like to. Another instance of Elvish ethnocentricity?

6. This chapter hints at a specific origin for Orcs. A different
version, or different suggestions, are found in a very short essay on
Orcs (MR, which I unfortunately don't own yet), suggesting they might
be twisted Men, or possibly one of the more proletarian breeds of
Maiar. This is all related to the tricky problem of whether Orcs have
souls or can be redeemed. One of my friends suggests that Orcs have
minds, but not souls, and IIRC has textual support (MR?) - though I
find such a thing difficult to imagine. However, it's very close to
the old view of Dwarves; see 2 above. I think we can only say that
Tolkien never really resolved the issue. Most of the time, he simply
doesn't bother with it at all: Orcs are evil, and that's all there is
to it. But even in LOTR, he sometimes treats them more or less
sympathetically (Gorbag and Shagrat, for example); and in the post-LOTR
period, he intermittently tried to fix the problem, but never really
succeeded. But is the problem really a problem, or should we just
accept that Orcs are "evil" and move on?

Christopher Kreuzer

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Mar 23, 2006, 2:29:21 AM3/23/06
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Count Menelvagor <Menel...@mailandnews.com> wrote:
> COTW: Silmarillion, Chapter X. Of the Sindar
>
> Not a lot happens in this chapter, which mostly contents itself with
> giving a résumé of events and providing a background for later
> chapters. True, Melkor does return and the First Battle takes place,
> but these events are only summarised, not narrated or described. The
> narrator keeps events at arm's length, and the reader isn't really
> drawn in.

I like this description of events taking place "at arm's length". I
actually rather like this "high and grand" style, but you are right in
that it doesn't really draw in readers that may be used to personal
narratives.

<snip>

> "the power of Elwe and Melian increased, and all Beleriand [...]
> owned Elwe as their lord".

This use of "owned" reminds me of the comment that Shelob "owns him
[Sauron] not". It really makes me think that the Shelob-Sauron comment
works on two levels. Technically it is saying that Shelob owes Sauron no
allegiance, but, as others have noted, it can also work as a "cat
ownership joke", though I don't think that was what Tolkien intended. It
does seem more likely that he meant this as an allegiance comment.
Indeed, this use has survived, or maybe resurfaced would be a more
accurate way of putting it, into modern slang - the rather, um,
endearing, custom of saying that someone is "owned" when you triumph
over them. Though this seems to have moved a long way from the more
courtly use of "owning a lord", and owing allegiance to them. Actually,
looking more closely, it seems the meaning has flipped over completely!
Now, by saying that someone owns someone, they are the _lord_ instead of
the servant!

> Thingol's subjects were known as the Sindar, or
> Grey-elves; and they were the crème de la crème in Middle-earth, even
> if they were distinctly middle-class by Valinorean standards. It was
> during this peaceful Golden Age, when Melkor was still a captive, that
> Lúthien was born.

The Sindar may have been distinctly middle-class by Valinorean standards
(love the crème de la crème comment!), but Luthien, Thingol and Melian
certainly weren't middle-class. I love the way the birth of Luthien is
asscociated with peace and glory (the peace on Middle-earth and the
glory of Valinor being at its noon - ie. its peak).

I also love the passage towards the end of the chapter. A more detailed
description, and a very poetic description, of what Beleriand was like.
The passage starts and ends: "In Beleriand in those days [...] they knew
well that all evil things were fled far away".

The flowing description of the stars and rivers and flowers, and the
power and beauty of Melian, Thingol and Luthien are a joy to read. And
the passage describing the thought of Thingol flowing "in a tide
untroubled from the heights to the deeps" is so evocative. Finally, we
have the description of Orome, a true Power, to compare to Thingol who
is compared to the Maiar. I especially love the description of the
Valaroma echoing in the hills, with the sound coming "down the leagues
of the starlight". That phrase always evokes to me a sense of the
distance between the stars and the sound of Orome's horn echoing in the
vastness of space. Always sends a shiver down my spine, even though I
know I may be projecting the modern view of a vast universe onto a
mythical scene that is probably no more than a horn echoing in a starlit
night.

But it is the 'power' of passages like this that seem to me to get to
the heart of what certain types of power really mean in Tolkien's world.
This passage, for me, communicates the power of poetry and music, and
expresses the power of Orome, Thingol, Melian, Luthien and the very
landscape of Middle-earth, in those very terms: flowing, poetic prose
that I could well imagine being set to song by a minstrel such as Maglor
or Daeron.

> Also at this time, the Sindar first came into contact with the
> Dwarves, whom with charming Elvish ethnocentricity they called the
> "Stunted People."

They didn't treat Men much better, did they! :-)

<snip>

> Melian foresaw the end of the captivity of Melkor, and so persuaded
> Thingol to build a stronghold with the aid of the Dwarves, who were
> happy to do this because it was both profitable and fun. And so the
> two kindreds collaborated in building Menegroth, the "Thousand Caves."

That was a good bit of planning by Melian!

<snip>

> The Elves won this First Battle, but suffered many losses, and evil
> things roamed about at will, bringing property values to an
> appallingly low level.

LOL!

> Comments and Questions
>
> 1. Most of this chapter, including the title, comes from a post-LOTR
> vision of Middle-earth.

That's interesting. I didn't know that. Thanks for the details.

> 4. Why are Elves so cliquish? Reading Tolkien's explanations of the
> different divisions of Elves, such as the bit about Sindar being not
> too low-class by Moriquendi standards, and certainly a step above
> those wretched Avari, sometimes reminds one of a guide to the best
> country clubs. Do Elves themselves make a big deal of their relative
> status? It seems that "Sylvan" Elves accepted Eldarin rulers well
> enough (Galadriel and Celeborn, for example).

Well, this gradation of Elves from Avari to Vanyar certainly makes
things more interesting than if they were all the same. I am sometimes
tempted to add Orcs to the bottom of this scale! The way I look at this
spectrum of Elves is to think of them as being at varying stages in a
spiritual journey, though that may only be one aspect of the division.
There are definitely overtones of religious and spiritual enlightenment
(or turning away from the light) when you look at the ends of the
spectrum. Avari turned away from the light of Aman, and the Vanyar
embraced it. The depiction of Silvan elves as elves of the Twilight, and
Grey Elves, is no coincidence. The Vanyar are also described as the
Light Elves, and the Avari are the largest part of the Moriquendi, the
Dark Elves.

There is a fascinating discussion of this, and the possible philological
origins of the terms light-elves and dark-elves, in an essay by Tom
Shippey in Tolkien Studies, Volume 1 - "Light-elves, Dark-elves, and
Others: Tolkien's Elvish Problem". This essay, which I've read and
thoroughly enjoyed, is available online here (along with the rest of
that volume):

http://muse.jhu.edu/demo/tolkien_studies/v001/1.1shippey.html

<snip>

> should we just accept that Orcs are "evil" and move on?

Possibly. Though that might miss the point. I think the point is that it
is not so easy to resolve such matters, and good and evil are not always
helpful labels. But you need to know what the extremes are, in order to
stay away from them, but generalisation and labelling can in itself be
an "evil".

Christopher

--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard

Robinsons

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Mar 23, 2006, 5:36:35 PM3/23/06
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Christopher Kreuzer wrote:

> > should we just accept that Orcs are "evil" and move on?
>
> Possibly. Though that might miss the point. I think the point is that it
> is not so easy to resolve such matters, and good and evil are not always
> helpful labels. But you need to know what the extremes are, in order to
> stay away from them, but generalisation and labelling can in itself be
> an "evil".

Or to quote Elijah Wood, "The poor cave troll. It just didn't have the proper guidance."

Chris Kern

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Mar 23, 2006, 5:37:01 PM3/23/06
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On 22 Mar 2006 20:57:41 -0800, "Count Menelvagor"
<Menel...@mailandnews.com> posted the following:

>COTW: Silmarillion, Chapter X. Of the Sindar
>
>Not a lot happens in this chapter, which mostly contents itself with
>giving a résumé of events and providing a background for later
>chapters. True, Melkor does return and the First Battle takes place,
>but these events are only summarised, not narrated or described. The
>narrator keeps events at arm's length, and the reader isn't really
>drawn in.

I think the discrepancy in style comes from the fact that "Of the
Sindar" is a chapter that is never found in any text of QS that JRRT
wrote. It was a chapter made by CT cobbled together from various
other sources, mostly the Grey Annals.

-Chris
--
NewsGuy.Com 30Gb $9.95 Carry Forward and On Demand Bandwidth

Christopher Kreuzer

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Mar 23, 2006, 8:13:52 PM3/23/06
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"Chris Kern" <chris...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:0l8622hm9r84rnosl...@4ax.com...

Hmm. So later, boring chapters, such as "Of Beleriand and its Realms"
(OK, I'm joking, it's not that boring, but still...), can chapters like
that be traced back to being more reliably based on some complete text
that JRRT wrote?

And given this "cobbled together" nature of this chapter, "Of the
Sindar", what is its function? What important stuff do we learn? As far
as I can tell, we get introduced to Luthien, and we get background on
the dwarves, and learn more about Thingol's kingdom. We are also told
the story of the Nandor, and that gives us the background to later
snippets of story that include Ossiriand. And then we get the First
Battle of the Wars of Beleriand.

It is slightly confusing that we then get two _more_ chapters of stuff
before the story started at the end of this chapter (the landing of
Feanor at Losgar) is resumed. The same thing happens with Fingolfin's
story. He is left blowing his trumpets at the end of chapter 9, and this
story thread is not taken up again until the middle of chapter 11, and
then again a few pages into chapter 13. In fact, this is not _slightly_
confusing, it is _dreadfully_ confusing!

Thank goodness I've read the story already! :-)

Are some of the earlier ways JRRT wrote these parts of the story less
confusing, or was this moving in and out of the story (with asides on
Men, Sindar and the Sun and Moon), already there in JRRT's earlier
texts, or was this mainly CRJT's editorial hand?

Chris Hoelscher

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Mar 23, 2006, 8:44:03 PM3/23/06
to

Having finished their two-hundred-year hand-holding extravaganza, Elwe
(or Thingol) and Melian carve themselves a domain. The text is a
little vague as to how they go about this, saying only that "the power
of Elwe and Melian increased.

This immediately struck me as a parallel with Sauron (albeit much later) -
each "invested" their power into another object (for Thingol and Melian, it
was the land itself, with Sauron it was a Ring) - in return for this
"permament" investiture, the owner's power is magnified!

or am I reaching?


chris hoelscher


Chris Kern

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Mar 24, 2006, 7:37:01 PM3/24/06
to
On Fri, 24 Mar 2006 01:13:52 GMT, "Christopher Kreuzer"
<spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> posted the following:

>"Chris Kern" <chris...@gmail.com> wrote in message
>news:0l8622hm9r84rnosl...@4ax.com...
>> On 22 Mar 2006 20:57:41 -0800, "Count Menelvagor"
>> <Menel...@mailandnews.com> posted the following:
>>
>> >COTW: Silmarillion, Chapter X. Of the Sindar
>> >
>> >Not a lot happens in this chapter, which mostly contents itself with
>> >giving a résumé of events and providing a background for later
>> >chapters. True, Melkor does return and the First Battle takes place,
>> >but these events are only summarised, not narrated or described. The
>> >narrator keeps events at arm's length, and the reader isn't really
>> >drawn in.
>>
>> I think the discrepancy in style comes from the fact that "Of the
>> Sindar" is a chapter that is never found in any text of QS that JRRT
>> wrote. It was a chapter made by CT cobbled together from various
>> other sources, mostly the Grey Annals.
>
>Hmm. So later, boring chapters, such as "Of Beleriand and its Realms"
>(OK, I'm joking, it's not that boring, but still...), can chapters like
>that be traced back to being more reliably based on some complete text
>that JRRT wrote?

Of Beleriand and its Realms is a complete chapter in the actual QS,
although Tolkien noted on one of the typescripts that it was
unecessary and could be omitted (apparently comments to some unknown
reader).

>Are some of the earlier ways JRRT wrote these parts of the story less
>confusing, or was this moving in and out of the story (with asides on
>Men, Sindar and the Sun and Moon), already there in JRRT's earlier
>texts, or was this mainly CRJT's editorial hand?

Unfortunately I think it is CT's editing. To me, the Grey Annals
reads very coherently and fluidly as a text -- it's only when you
cobble all the sources together into one text that you get all this
confusion and discrepancy of style.

Count Menelvagor

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Mar 25, 2006, 3:05:26 AM3/25/06
to

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
> Count Menelvagor <Menel...@mailandnews.com> wrote:
> > COTW: Silmarillion, Chapter X. Of the Sindar

> I like this description of events taking place "at arm's length". I


> actually rather like this "high and grand" style, but you are right in
> that it doesn't really draw in readers that may be used to personal
> narratives.

tolkien (although in this case i largely mean christopher t.) seemsto
like to zoom in and zoom out, varying the focus from "macro-history"
(commonly narrated in a more remote style) to idividual characters.


> This use of "owned" reminds me of the comment that Shelob "owns him
> [Sauron] not". It really makes me think that the Shelob-Sauron comment
> works on two levels. Technically it is saying that Shelob owes Sauron no
> allegiance, but, as others have noted, it can also work as a "cat
> ownership joke", though I don't think that was what Tolkien intended. It
> does seem more likely that he meant this as an allegiance comment.
> Indeed, this use has survived, or maybe resurfaced would be a more
> accurate way of putting it, into modern slang - the rather, um,
> endearing, custom of saying that someone is "owned" when you triumph
> over them. Though this seems to have moved a long way from the more
> courtly use of "owning a lord", and owing allegiance to them. Actually,
> looking more closely, it seems the meaning has flipped over completely!
> Now, by saying that someone owns someone, they are the _lord_ instead of
> the servant!

W3 PWN U 1AMERZ. tolkien's use of "own" in the cat passage used to
confuse me enormously; he seemed to be using it in the opposite toit's
actual meaning.

> The Sindar may have been distinctly middle-class by Valinorean standards
> (love the crème de la crème comment!), but Luthien, Thingol and Melian
> certainly weren't middle-class. I love the way the birth of Luthien is
> asscociated with peace and glory (the peace on Middle-earth and the
> glory of Valinor being at its noon - ie. its peak).

true. thingol "was not counted among the moriquendi," because when he
visited valinor he got an honorary club membership.


> But it is the 'power' of passages like this that seem to me to get to
> the heart of what certain types of power really mean in Tolkien's world.
> This passage, for me, communicates the power of poetry and music, and
> expresses the power of Orome, Thingol, Melian, Luthien and the very
> landscape of Middle-earth, in those very terms: flowing, poetic prose
> that I could well imagine being set to song by a minstrel such as Maglor
> or Daeron.

yes, tolkien is very good at that high style, isn't he? there's an
interesting bit in tolkien's letters where he responds to criticisms of
archaism. he takes a line from theoden and turns it first into
genuinely archaic english (with "thou" and whatnot), and then into
"modern." his main point, iirc, was that an archaising style has the
advatage of terseness, of leaving out irrelevant padding.


> There is a fascinating discussion of this, and the possible philological
> origins of the terms light-elves and dark-elves, in an essay by Tom
> Shippey in Tolkien Studies, Volume 1 - "Light-elves, Dark-elves, and
> Others: Tolkien's Elvish Problem". This essay, which I've read and
> thoroughly enjoyed, is available online here (along with the rest of
> that volume):
>
> http://muse.jhu.edu/demo/tolkien_studies/v001/1.1shippey.html

thanks for the link; very interesting! i'm also reminded of a book by
verilyn flieger, /splintered light/. her thesis, i think, was that the
hsitory of middle-earth is characterised by the fracturing and diming
of light. though feanor doesn't seem to have been any more
enlightened than the moriquendi, and in "quendi and eldar" the
relations among the different groups of elves getvery murky,with lots
of "he said/she said."

Count Menelvagor

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Mar 25, 2006, 3:08:12 AM3/25/06
to

Chris Hoelscher wrote:

> This immediately struck me as a parallel with Sauron (albeit much later) -
> each "invested" their power into another object (for Thingol and Melian, it
> was the land itself, with Sauron it was a Ring) - in return for this
> "permament" investiture, the owner's power is magnified!
>
> or am I reaching?

interesting ... i'm reminded a bit of lothlorien, though that's maybe
not quite the same thing.

Christopher Kreuzer

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Mar 25, 2006, 6:11:09 AM3/25/06
to
Count Menelvagor <Menel...@mailandnews.com> wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
>> Count Menelvagor <Menel...@mailandnews.com> wrote:
>>> COTW: Silmarillion, Chapter X. Of the Sindar
>
>> I like this description of events taking place "at arm's length". I
>> actually rather like this "high and grand" style, but you are right
>> in that it doesn't really draw in readers that may be used to
>> personal narratives.
>
> tolkien (although in this case i largely mean christopher t.) seemsto
> like to zoom in and zoom out, varying the focus from "macro-history"
> (commonly narrated in a more remote style) to idividual characters.

Christopher Tolkien does mention some of these issues in the Foreword:

"A complete consistency [...] is not to be looked for, and could only be
achieved, if at all at heavy and needless cost [...] [The Silmarillion]
is to some extent a compendium in fact and not only in theory. To this
may be ascribed the varying speed of the narrative and fullness of
detail in different parts [...] and also some differences of tone and
portrayal, some obscurities, and, here and there, some lack of
cohesion." (Foreword to 'The Silmarillion')

>> This use of "owned" reminds me of the comment that Shelob "owns him
>> [Sauron] not". It really makes me think that the Shelob-Sauron
>> comment works on two levels. Technically it is saying that Shelob
>> owes Sauron no allegiance, but, as others have noted, it can also
>> work as a "cat ownership joke", though I don't think that was what
>> Tolkien intended. It does seem more likely that he meant this as an
>> allegiance comment. Indeed, this use has survived, or maybe
>> resurfaced would be a more accurate way of putting it, into modern
>> slang - the rather, um, endearing, custom of saying that someone is
>> "owned" when you triumph over them. Though this seems to have moved
>> a long way from the more courtly use of "owning a lord", and owing
>> allegiance to them. Actually, looking more closely, it seems the
>> meaning has flipped over completely! Now, by saying that someone
>> owns someone, they are the _lord_ instead of the servant!
>
> W3 PWN U 1AMERZ.

LOL! You confused me immensely there! I recognised that this is some
sort of slang, but searches for the phrase failed. I eventually worked
out that W3 and U and lAMERZ are probably WE, YOU and LAMERS. PWN
apparently is slang for "OWN". Leetspeak seems to be a way to describe
some of these "slang ciphers".

Found some links on all this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pwn
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Own3d
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamer
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leet

What on earth would Tolkien have made of these sorts of languages! :-)

> tolkien's use of "own" in the cat passage used to
> confuse me enormously; he seemed to be using it in the opposite toit's
> actual meaning.

So when did it stop confusing you? I think it still does confuse me! :-)

>> The Sindar may have been distinctly middle-class by Valinorean
>> standards (love the crème de la crème comment!), but Luthien,
>> Thingol and Melian certainly weren't middle-class. I love the way
>> the birth of Luthien is asscociated with peace and glory (the peace
>> on Middle-earth and the glory of Valinor being at its noon - ie. its
>> peak).
>
> true. thingol "was not counted among the moriquendi," because when he
> visited valinor he got an honorary club membership.

Though this is found in an earlier chapter. I suppose there has to be a
certain spreading out of this kind of information. I like the full quote
for what it says about power and a rare use of another set of terms to
divide Elves (this time centred round the land of Aman - the other term
is Amanyar):

"...and king though he was of Umanyar, he was not accounted among the
Moriquendi, but with the Elves of the Light, mighty upon Middle-earth."
(Of Thingol and Melian)

We could start debating what Tolkien means here by "mighty". I take it
to mean a certain spiritual enlightenment and a dignified and noble
bearing. Though of course, the mighty can still fall...

This use of light/flame as a kind of metaphor, or even a literal
representation of power, also reminds me of descriptions such as:

- "...his spirit burned as a flame." (Feanor)

- "Feanor looked upon Melkor with eyes that burned through his fair
semblance and pierced the cloaks of his mind" (It is usually only the
Valar that get to have 'burning' eyes, though see further quotes below)

- "...their valour and endurance grew with hardship; for they were a
mighty people, the elder children undying of Eru Iluvatar, but new-come
from the Blessed Realm, and not yet weary with the weariness of Earth.
The fire of their hearts was young..." (The Noldor crossing the
Helcaraxe)

- "...the light of Aman was not yet dimmed in their eyes, and they were
strong and swift, and deadly in anger..." (The Noldor givnig battle in
the first wars of Beleriand)

- "...they feared the Eldar and the light of their eyes..." (the
reaction of some of the Edain when they reach Beleriand)

- "..his eyes shone like the eyes of the Valar." (Fingolfin's charge)

And from the final passages of LotR:

"They were a race high and beautiful the older Children of the world,
and among them the Eldar were as kings, who now are gone..." (Appendix
F, 'The Lord of the Rings')

So here we see another division of the Elves into the high and noble
Eldar, who are are as kings compared to the lowly Avari (though the rest
of the passage seems to refer to the Noldor - see notes in 'A Reader's
Companion' and current editions of LotR).

>> But it is the 'power' of passages like this that seem to me to get to
>> the heart of what certain types of power really mean in Tolkien's
>> world. This passage, for me, communicates the power of poetry and
>> music, and expresses the power of Orome, Thingol, Melian, Luthien
>> and the very landscape of Middle-earth, in those very terms:
>> flowing, poetic prose that I could well imagine being set to song by
>> a minstrel such as Maglor or Daeron.
>
> yes, tolkien is very good at that high style, isn't he? there's an
> interesting bit in tolkien's letters where he responds to criticisms
> of archaism. he takes a line from theoden and turns it first into
> genuinely archaic english (with "thou" and whatnot), and then into
> "modern." his main point, iirc, was that an archaising style has the
> advatage of terseness, of leaving out irrelevant padding.

Yes. I remember that letter as well. He obviously spent time thinking
deeply about the style and construction of his sentences, which is why I
laugh whenever I read those criticisms that miss the point he is making
here. Sure, it might not be suitable for a modern audience, but it is
clear that Tolkien is not just writing for an audience. He is writing
for his own pleasure, and is playing with the language. Having studied
old writings and languages deeply, he was really able to write in these
different styles.

>> There is a fascinating discussion of this, and the possible
>> philological origins of the terms light-elves and dark-elves, in an
>> essay by Tom Shippey in Tolkien Studies, Volume 1 - "Light-elves,
>> Dark-elves, and Others: Tolkien's Elvish Problem". This essay, which
>> I've read and thoroughly enjoyed, is available online here (along
>> with the rest of that volume):
>>
>> http://muse.jhu.edu/demo/tolkien_studies/v001/1.1shippey.html
>
> thanks for the link; very interesting! i'm also reminded of a book by

> verlyn flieger, /splintered light/. her thesis, i think, was that


> the hsitory of middle-earth is characterised by the fracturing and
> diming of light.

That is a fascinating concept. Have you read the book? I found it heavy
going, and not quite what I was expecting, but I remember thinking that
it was really good.

> though feanor doesn't seem to have been any more
> enlightened than the moriquendi, and in "quendi and eldar" the
> relations among the different groups of elves getvery murky,with lots
> of "he said/she said."

I haven't read "quendi and eldar". How murky does it get? I've always
thought that Eol would be what Feanor would have been like if he had
been one of the Moriquendi.

Yuk Tang

unread,
Mar 25, 2006, 3:15:52 PM3/25/06
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in
news:hz9Vf.41756$wl.2...@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk:
> Count Menelvagor <Menel...@mailandnews.com> wrote:
>>
>> W3 PWN U 1AMERZ.
>
> LOL! You confused me immensely there! I recognised that this is
> some sort of slang, but searches for the phrase failed. I
> eventually worked out that W3 and U and lAMERZ are probably WE,
> YOU and LAMERS. PWN apparently is slang for "OWN". Leetspeak seems
> to be a way to describe some of these "slang ciphers".
>
> What on earth would Tolkien have made of these sorts of languages!
> :-)

He was certainly well acquainted with usenet.

> This use of light/flame as a kind of metaphor, or even a literal
> representation of power, also reminds me of descriptions such as:
>
> - "...his spirit burned as a flame." (Feanor)


--
Cheers, ymt.

Bill O'Meally

unread,
Mar 26, 2006, 12:50:57 AM3/26/06
to
Count Menelvagor wrote:
>
> interesting ... i'm reminded a bit of lothlorien, though that's maybe
> not quite the same thing.

Why not Imladris as well?

--
Bill

"Wise fool"
Gandalf, THE TWO TOWERS
-- The Wise will remove 'se' to reply; the Foolish will not--


Count Menelvagor

unread,
Mar 26, 2006, 8:09:14 PM3/26/06
to

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
> Count Menelvagor <Menel...@mailandnews.com> wrote:

> > tolkien's use of "own" in the cat passage used to
> > confuse me enormously; he seemed to be using it in the opposite toit's
> > actual meaning.
>
> So when did it stop confusing you? I think it still does confuse me! :-)

some time early in the thrid age, i think.


> - "...the light of Aman was not yet dimmed in their eyes, and they were
> strong and swift, and deadly in anger..." (The Noldor givnig battle in
> the first wars of Beleriand)

this seems to me to be related to the verilyn flieger piece mentioned
below: the notion that the light from the blessed realm gradually dims
in middle-earth. and even the trees are a kind of dimming of the light
of the original lanterns that were torn down by morgoth. i'm also
thinking of the concept of "fading" found in LOTR and elswhere.


> > thanks for the link; very interesting! i'm also reminded of a book by
> > verlyn flieger, /splintered light/. her thesis, i think, was that
> > the hsitory of middle-earth is characterised by the fracturing and
> > diming of light.
>
> That is a fascinating concept. Have you read the book? I found it heavy
> going, and not quite what I was expecting, but I remember thinking that
> it was really good.

i've read it, but it was long ago and far away. it wasn't beach
reading by any means.

>
> > though feanor doesn't seem to have been any more
> > enlightened than the moriquendi, and in "quendi and eldar" the
> > relations among the different groups of elves getvery murky,with lots
> > of "he said/she said."
>
> I haven't read "quendi and eldar". How murky does it get? I've always
> thought that Eol would be what Feanor would have been like if he had
> been one of the Moriquendi.

well, the three elf-clans precedd the great march to valinor and went
back to the first awakening of the elves at cuivienen.

the nodlor claimed that most of the teleri were avari at heart, and did
not regret not making it to valinor. (WJ 380)

however, the first avari that the eldar met in beleriand were "tatyar"
(the 2nd clan, relatives of the noldor). they were hostile to their
noldorin kin, because of the bitterness of the tatyarin debate over
whether to go to valinor or not. this resentment "throws some light on
the temperament of the noldor in general, and feanor in particular."
in fact the teleri riposte to the claim above was that the noldor were
avari at heart "and returned to middle-earth when they realised their
mistake; they needed room to quarrel in. for in contrast the lindarin
[teleri; 3rd clan] elements in the western avari were friendly tothe
eldar, and willing to learn from them" (381). and apparently not only
learn, as they tended to merge with their eldarin kin.

elves could be a b*tchy lot.

Yuk Tang

unread,
Mar 27, 2006, 11:41:09 AM3/27/06
to
"Count Menelvagor" <Menel...@mailandnews.com> wrote in
news:1143421754.5...@e56g2000cwe.googlegroups.com:
>
> well, the three elf-clans precedd the great march to valinor and
> went back to the first awakening of the elves at cuivienen.
>
> the nodlor claimed that most of the teleri were avari at heart,
> and did not regret not making it to valinor. (WJ 380)
>
> however, the first avari that the eldar met in beleriand were
> "tatyar" (the 2nd clan, relatives of the noldor). they were
> hostile to their noldorin kin, because of the bitterness of the
> tatyarin debate over whether to go to valinor or not. this
> resentment "throws some light on the temperament of the noldor in
> general, and feanor in particular." in fact the teleri riposte to
> the claim above was that the noldor were avari at heart "and
> returned to middle-earth when they realised their mistake; they
> needed room to quarrel in. for in contrast the lindarin [teleri;
> 3rd clan] elements in the western avari were friendly tothe eldar,
> and willing to learn from them" (381). and apparently not only
> learn, as they tended to merge with their eldarin kin.
>
> elves could be a b*tchy lot.

Elves were Greeks.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Morgil

unread,
Mar 27, 2006, 12:46:18 PM3/27/06
to
Yuk Tang wrote:
> "Count Menelvagor" <Menel...@mailandnews.com> wrote in
> news:1143421754.5...@e56g2000cwe.googlegroups.com:

>>elves could be a b*tchy lot.
>
>
> Elves were Greeks.

No wonder Galadriel was bearing all those gifts.

Morgil

Larry Swain

unread,
Mar 27, 2006, 2:15:29 PM3/27/06
to

Nice, Morgil....very good! :)

JimboCat

unread,
Mar 27, 2006, 3:10:34 PM3/27/06
to
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:

You need the comprehensive leet-speak translator:

http://www.jayssite.com/stuff/l33t/l33t_translator.html

"W3 PWN U 1AMERZ" == "we defeat you lamers"

Jim Deutch (JimboCat)
--
"2B or N2B, that is the FAQ." -- H4mL37

Count Menelvagor

unread,
Mar 27, 2006, 11:12:14 PM3/27/06
to

timeo galadriellam et tildes ferentes.

(and i don't care that the meter is wrong.)

Steve Morrison

unread,
Mar 28, 2006, 3:46:50 PM3/28/06
to
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:

> LOL! You confused me immensely there! I recognised that this is some
> sort of slang, but searches for the phrase failed. I eventually worked
> out that W3 and U and lAMERZ are probably WE, YOU and LAMERS. PWN
> apparently is slang for "OWN". Leetspeak seems to be a way to describe
> some of these "slang ciphers".
>
> Found some links on all this:
>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pwn
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Own3d
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamer
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leet
>
> What on earth would Tolkien have made of these sorts of languages! :-)

Here are some more links about "133t5p33k":

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/030110.html

is a popular question-and-answer column which devoted
one installment to explaining leetspeak to the perplexed;

http://skymind.com/~ocrow/amusement/lordsp.txt

is the Lord's Prayer translated into 1334.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Mar 28, 2006, 3:55:57 PM3/28/06
to
Steve Morrison <Geir...@aol.com> wrote:

<snip>

> Here are some more links about "133t5p33k":
>
> http://www.straightdope.com/columns/030110.html

Thanks! The cartoon is hilarious!

> http://skymind.com/~ocrow/amusement/lordsp.txt
>
> is the Lord's Prayer translated into 1334.

LOL! That is so... geeky! :-)

Raven

unread,
Mar 28, 2006, 5:55:17 PM3/28/06
to
"Count Menelvagor" <Menel...@mailandnews.com> skrev i en meddelelse
news:1143519134.3...@i40g2000cwc.googlegroups.com...

> Larry Swain wrote:

> > Morgil wrote:

> > > Yuk Tang wrote:

> > >> Elves were Greeks.

> > > Morgil

> > Nice, Morgil....very good! :)

Timeo Sauronum et anulos ferens?

Corvus.


Count Menelvagor

unread,
Mar 29, 2006, 10:25:27 PM3/29/06
to

Raven wrote:
> "Count Menelvagor" <Menel...@mailandnews.com> skrev i en meddelelse
> news:1143519134.3...@i40g2000cwc.googlegroups.com...

> > timeo galadriellam et tildes ferentes.


>
> > (and i don't care that the meter is wrong.)
>
> Timeo Sauronum et anulos ferens?

timeo that between the two of us, fecimus virgilium rollare over in his
grave.

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Mar 31, 2006, 6:13:37 PM3/31/06
to
In message <news:l7sUf.40570$wl.3...@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
>
> Count Menelvagor <Menel...@mailandnews.com> wrote:
>> COTW: Silmarillion, Chapter X. Of the Sindar
>>
>> Not a lot happens in this chapter, which mostly contents itself
>> with giving a résumé of events and providing a background for
>> later chapters.
[...]

>> The narrator keeps events at arm's length, and the reader isn't
>> really drawn in.
>
> I like this description of events taking place "at arm's length".
> I actually rather like this "high and grand" style, but you are
> right in that it doesn't really draw in readers that may be used
> to personal narratives.

JRRT seems to have left CT at a disadvantage at places. The later
work on the Silmarillion (LQ1 and LQ2[1]) is nearly all written
'close up' rather than this at arm's length, though with notable
exceptions. This trend became even more visible in LQ2, but that text
never reached furhter than the quarrel between Morgoth and Ungoliant,
and from there CT had to rely on older versions: mostly the LQ1
(which in many places deviates only little from the pre-LotR QS) and
the two annalistic texts, AAM and GA. Despite their names and nature,
the annals are, in some places, actually closer to the events than
the LQ1.

>> "the power of Elwe and Melian increased, and all Beleriand [...]
>> owned Elwe as their lord".
>
> This use of "owned" reminds me of the comment that Shelob "owns
> him [Sauron] not". It really makes me think that the Shelob-Sauron
> comment works on two levels. Technically it is saying that Shelob
> owes Sauron no allegiance, but, as others have noted, it can also
> work as a "cat ownership joke", though I don't think that was what
> Tolkien intended. It does seem more likely that he meant this as
> an allegiance comment.

The RC explains it saying that it means that she didn't acknowledge
his authority. 'Acknowledge' (or 'concede') does seem the appropriate
synonym when looking it up in the dictionaries (more common, I think,
in the phrase 'to own up to').

I am, of course, a bit disappointed to learn that this probably
isn't, after all, a cat-owner comment -- English never ceases to
amaze me ;-)

> Indeed, this use has survived,

[...]


> saying that someone is "owned" when you triumph over them.

[...]


> the meaning has flipped over completely! Now, by saying that
> someone owns someone, they are the _lord_ instead of the servant!

I don't think that this is related to the 'acknowledge' meaning --
the intention is, I believe, that, 'we can do with you as we please
as if you were our property' -- thus relying on the literal meaning
'you are our property'.

<snip>

> I also love the passage towards the end of the chapter. A more
> detailed description, and a very poetic description, of what
> Beleriand was like. The passage starts and ends: "In Beleriand in
> those days [...] they knew well that all evil things were fled far
> away".

I am somewhat sceptical of the beginning of that passage, 'the Elves
walked, and the rivers flowed, and the stars shone,' I can't ready
that without a sarcastic thought saying, 'Oh yeah? And did the wind
blow and the mountains rock (or were they too stoned for that)?'

The problem, I think, is mostly that it doesn't say anything at all:
the Elves walked, and the rivers flowed, and the stars shone in every
age and time everywhere in Middle-earth (where the Elves got to).
Occasionally the Elves walked in chains, the rivers flowed with
poisonous wastes and the stars shone sickly through the nauseous
fumes of rot . . . I don't know -- that half-sentence just stands out
to me as too much of too little.

I do like the remainder, though. Already the bit about the night-
flowers adds a bit of information that I hadn't thought of.

>> Also at this time, the Sindar first came into contact with the
>> Dwarves, whom with charming Elvish ethnocentricity they called
>> the "Stunted People."
>
> They didn't treat Men much better, did they! :-)

Not significantly so, no.

I can't say that I have really noticed the chauvinism of the Elves:
it seems to me a part of the basis of Tolkien's sub-creation that
Elves are somehow 'better' than Men, and I think I have simply
accepted that bias as well as the Elven expressions of it. A bit
worrying, actually ;)

<snip>

>> should we just accept that Orcs are "evil" and move on?
>
> Possibly. Though that might miss the point.

That would be a very definite risk, IMO.

> I think the point is that it is not so easy to resolve such
> matters, and good and evil are not always helpful labels.

I don't think that there is any doubt that the Orcs were Evil -- that
is never (IIRC) questioned. To me it doesn't matter so much whether
they were corrupted Avari, Men, Maiar, beasts, something else
entirely or a mix of it all. The part that I find interesting is
Tolkien's indecision, and, in particular, his various arguements back
and forth on the issue provide, IMO, interesting insights to how many
other things work in Middle-earth.


In the beginning of the chapter we have the following passage:

Though Middle-earth lay for the most part in the Sleep of
Yavanna, in Beleriand under the power of Melian there was
life and joy, and the bright stars shone as silver fires;
and there in the forest of Neldoreth Lúthien was born, and
the white flowers of niphredil came forth to greet her as
stars from the earth.

Due, no doubt, to the discussions about Thingol and Melian staring
into each other's eyes for a couple of centuries, this passage made
me pause and ask myself what the Sindar (and the Avari, and all the
Eldar during the Great March) actually lived on when nearly
everything was under the Sleep of Yavanna, and therefore nothing grew
or ran about.

Were the First Age Quendi so much masters over their Hröar that they
didn't need food for several thousand years? Or are we to ignore such
petty questions ;-)


[1] See list of abbreviations for texts in
Message-ID: <Xns9781EDDE...@130.133.1.4>
<news:Xns9781EDDE...@130.133.1.4>
<http://groups.google.com/group/alt.fan.tolkien/msg/835a03c559fe4e2f>

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left
the path of wisdom.
- Gandalf, /The Fellowship of the Ring/ (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Apr 1, 2006, 2:36:23 PM4/1/06
to
Yuk Tang <jim.l...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> "Count Menelvagor" <Menel...@mailandnews.com> wrote:

<snip>

>> elves could be a b*tchy lot.
>
> Elves were Greeks.

Dare I drag something serious out of what I presume was a joke? :-)

I'm presuming that this is all a reference to something along the lines
of the histories of the Classical Greek and Roman periods including lots
of petty squabbling? If so, then I'll speculate some more, but I just
want to check I'm not missing the point of the joke...


Yuk Tang

unread,
Apr 1, 2006, 3:58:19 PM4/1/06
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in
news:XCAXf.46234$wl.2...@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk:

Just a reference to the ageless tendency of Greeks to squabble among
themselves, each claiming to be superior to the others. Although the
elves had better reason for conflict than the infinitely petty
excuses for the fratricidal wars between the city states. Same stuck
up attitudes though.


--
Cheers, ymt.

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