COTW: Silmarillion ChapterIX: Of the Flight of the Noldor

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er...@swva.net

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Mar 7, 2006, 10:45:07 PM3/7/06
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Chapter Nine of the Silmarillion, Of the Flight of the Noldor, is full
of the heavy drama that I think makes the Silmarillion so good. It
opens with the Valar having gathered in the Ring of Doom; Melkor and
his partner-in-crime Ungoliant have just made their getaway, having
killed the Two Trees.

Synopsis

The powers of the Valar fail to revive the Trees, but Yavanna thinks
with a little of the light of the trees that Feanor has locked in the
Silmarils, she can heal the trees. Feanor will not give his gems up
willingly, and the very request reminds him of suspicions sown by
Melkor, that the Valar covet the Silmarils for themselves. Just then
messengers come with even more bad news: Melkor, in the confusion of
the killing of the trees and Ungoliant's blinding vapors, has plundered
Feanor's gems and killed his father, Finwe, the King of the Noldor.

Feanor goes mad with grief and rage, giving Melkor the sobriquet
"Morgoth" and cursing the Valar for summoning him to this meeting when
he could have been home protecting his father. Tolkien points out that
Feanor mistakenly thinks that if he had, anything would have happened
other than that he would have been killed, too, which is what Melkor
hoped would happen.
Now the Silmarils are gone, and Feanor storms off to rabble-rouse the
Noldor into going after them.

In the meantime, Morgoth (as he is almost always called now) and
Ungoliant flee over the wastes of Araman to the north of Valinor,
escape across the Grinding Ice, and set foot in the far northwest of
Middle-earth. Tolkien mentions that they travel together because
"Morgoth could not elude" her; this implies that he is already seeking
to renege on whatever reward he had promised her for her help. She is
sticking close, with her cloud still around him and her eyes on him.
As they approach his old fortress of Angband, she realizes he hopes to
cheat her and demands payment. He ends up giving her all the gems of
the Noldor except the Silmarils. She wants them, too, and entangles
him in her webs. He cries out, and his Balrogs, hiding nearby, hear
and come to his rescue, slashing her webs with their whips of fire.
She flees, drops a bunch of offspring in what will later become Nan
Dungortheb, disappears into the south and from the story.

Morgoth rebuilds Angband and raises above its gate a new addition, A
giant tower-mountain of slag called Thangorodrim. He begins to build
up his armies. He puts the Silmarils in a crown which he never takes
off, and spends his spirit in creating followers and inspiring them to
evil, and only once does he ever leave his fortress again.

In the meantime, the Noldor return to Tirion. Feanor shows up among
them and with his great oratory skill and force of personality, stirs
up their resentments against the Valar, resentments originally planted
by Melkor. He really pushes the idea that the Valar were keeping them
from their true destiny, as well as keeping them in Valinor to allow
the Aftercomers, that is, Men to take over lands that should rightfully
be Elvish.

Then Feanor and his sons swear their terrible oath of undying enmity
against any, good or evil, that keep them from the Silmarils, and this
oath becomes a major mover in the saga, many eventually becoming
tangled in it to great sorrow.

Many speak against Feanor, especially Feanor's half-brother Fingolfin
and his son Turgon, and his other half-brother Finarfin counsels
waiting and cooling off, but many, even ones who are not especially
fond of Feanor, still want to go to seek kingdoms where they will not
be subordinate to anyone else, especially the Valar.
Thus, in a few short paragraphs, Tolkien mentions all the princes of
the Noldor and where they stand in the controversy. Galadriel is
introduced as the only woman to stand forth in equal status to the
princes, and she also is for going.

The Noldor go forth as two hosts, for more prefer the leadership of
Fingolfin, and in the end but few stay back. As the Noldor depart the
gates of Tirion, a herald of the Valar arrives and advises them not to
go, but says they will not be hindered and may go freely, but Feanor is
exiled because of his oath. Then he warns Feanor that he will lose
against Morgoth because he will never beat a Vala, even if he were
three times more powerful. Of course, Feanor laughs this off.

Crime follows crime. Feanor goes to the Teleri to borrow their ships
for the passage of the north sea, otherwise the Noldor will have to
attempt to cross by land and dare the Grinding Ice, since the Noldor
don't have the time or the skill to make their own ships. The Teleri
try to talk Feanor out of leaving, and won't lend him ships, so he
takes them by force, losing some Noldor and killing a lot of Teleri in
the process. This becomes known as the Kinslaying; it comes up again
and again in the book, as now the Noldor have slain unjustly and their
Karma takes a nosedive.

The Noldor now proceed as two hosts, the larger one belonging to
Fingolfin and forced to walk, while Feanor and his followers,
representing most of the guiltiest parties to the Kinslaying, travel
parallel to them offshore in the boats.

As the Noldor reach the edge of the settled Undying Lands, a great
figure is seen standing high upon a rock. Some think it is Mandos
himself, and he pronounces the prophecy and curse known as the Prophecy
of the North and the Doom of the Noldor. It exiles Feanor and every
one who follows him, and says that their oath will betray them, and all
their plans will fail,
generally caused by treason or fear of treason.

Feanor basically says, maybe so, but at least cowardice won't be a
problem and determines to drive on, but Finarfin and a smaller party of
Noldor turn back, and are forgiven and welcomed. His sons and
daughters, though, drive on in the train of Fingolfin.

Eventually they run out of land, and there are not enough ships to take
everyone across at once, and fear of treachery is already having
effect. Feanor, sons, and their most loyal followers slip away with
all the ships, leaving Fingolfin behind in Araman. When they arrive in
Middle Earth at the Firth of Drengist, eldest and wisest son Maedhros
asks who will be ferried next, hoping to see his friend Fingon, but
Feanor, about as mad as a hare at this point, causes the ships to be
burnt.
Fingolfin and his party see the light and the smoke in the distance,
and know they are betrayed.

Now they are faced with having to _walk_ to Middle-earth, over the
Grinding Ice, a trek like you or me having to march across the North
Pole, and many are lost along the way, but the rest are hardened by
the journey, and led by Fingolfin and sons, plus Finrod and Galadriel,
they eventually arrive in Middle-earth just as the Moon rises for the
first time.

End of Synopsis

This chapter establishes a number of motifs that will arise again and
again: betrayal and and being too quick to fear of betrayal; rashly
swearing an oath and dooming oneself and others in the process; the
Feanorians being too quick to use any means to get their ends; others
of great nobility suffering and failing, however bright they might be
in their fall; evil basically being cheesy and childish, as witness
the bickering and betrayal between Melkor and Ungoliant. These
god-like beings are as shoot-themselves-in-the-foot as playground
bullies, but at the chapter's end, Morgoth is rapidly rebuilding a
kingdom of evil in Middle-earth, and the elves are already spending
their strength in backstabbing.

When I read this chapter, I feel the momentum that started in the
proceeding chapter crescendoing like crazy. I find it very moving,
that might just be me. I enjoy just as well the drafts in Morgoth's
Ring. What do others think?

Eric Root

Morgil

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Mar 7, 2006, 11:22:31 PM3/7/06
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er...@swva.net wrote:

> Crime follows crime. Feanor goes to the Teleri to borrow their ships
> for the passage of the north sea, otherwise the Noldor will have to
> attempt to cross by land and dare the Grinding Ice,

This is incorrect. Noldor at that point, didn't know
about Helcaraxe, and it came as a surprise to them.

> The Noldor now proceed as two hosts, the larger one belonging to
> Fingolfin and forced to walk, while Feanor and his followers,
> representing most of the guiltiest parties to the Kinslaying, travel
> parallel to them offshore in the boats.

This is also incorrect. The ships only had basic
crews on board, and those were Feanor's followers,
but no passengers. Everyone else travelled on foot.

Morgil

Christopher Kreuzer

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Mar 8, 2006, 4:06:33 AM3/8/06
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[Cross-posting to AFT and adding some initial comments]

Thanks for this, Eric. Nice summary and questions.

er...@swva.net <er...@swva.net> wrote:
> Chapter Nine of the Silmarillion, Of the Flight of the Noldor, is full
> of the heavy drama that I think makes the Silmarillion so good.

Agreed. I think this is a great chapter. Drama, pathos, and key moments
of fate, and doom and stirring grandeur.

> It opens with the Valar having gathered in the Ring of Doom; Melkor
and
> his partner-in-crime Ungoliant have just made their getaway, having
> killed the Two Trees.
>
> Synopsis
>
> The powers of the Valar fail to revive the Trees, but Yavanna thinks
> with a little of the light of the trees that Feanor has locked in the
> Silmarils, she can heal the trees. Feanor will not give his gems up
> willingly, and the very request reminds him of suspicions sown by
> Melkor, that the Valar covet the Silmarils for themselves.

"It seemed to him that he was beset in a ring of enemies, and the words
of Melkor returned to him, saying that the Silmarils were not safe, if
the Valar would possess them. 'And is he not Vala as are they,' said his
thought, 'and does he not understand their hearts? Yea, a thief shall
reveal thieves!'"

Feanor then speaks aloud, saying that he "will do do this of free will",
and if the Valar will constrain him, then he shall know they are of the
kindred of Melkor. Now at this point, if I was one of the Valar, I would
be opening my mouth, ready to start arguing with Feanor and rebutting
his unjust words. I'm alternately amazed and impressed when Mandos then
says merely "Thou hast spoken", though looking more closely, this seems
to be a response to the first part of Feanor's words, the "This thing I
will not do of free will" bit. The bit about the Valar being like Melkor
if they force him to give up the Silmarils, seems to be ignored for the
moment, though Manwe does seem to answer it later:

The other impression I get from Mandos's "Thou hast spoken" is something
like "no more needs to be said - this doom has come to pass."

But I really do feel sorrow for Feanor here, as the words of Melkor come
back to haunt him. He is under great stress here, and all the flaws in
his character are coming to the fore: his esteeming material goods and
the works of his hands too highly, and, just when he needs to think
clearly and carefully, what pops into his mind but those evil words from
Melkor!

> Just then messengers come with even more bad news: Melkor,
> in the confusion of the killing of the trees and Ungoliant's blinding
> vapors, has plundered Feanor's gems and killed his father, Finwe,
> the King of the Noldor.
>
> Feanor goes mad with grief and rage, giving Melkor the sobriquet
> "Morgoth"

"Then Feanor rose, and lifting up his hand before Manwe he cursed
Melkor, naming him Morgoth, the Black Foe of the World..."

> and cursing the Valar for summoning him to this meeting when
> he could have been home protecting his father. Tolkien points out
> that Feanor mistakenly thinks that if he had, anything would have
> happened other than that he would have been killed, too, which is
> what Melkor hoped would happen.

The bit I really like from this part of the chapter is:

"Then Feanor ran from the Ring of Doom, and fled into the night; for his
father was dearer to him than the Light of Valinor or the peerless works
of his hands; and who among sons, of Elves or of Men, have held their
fathers of greater worth?"

This is a point where I, again, feel nothing but sorrow for Feanor. It
is only his _later_ actions that I feel may have been excessive, but
they all flow from this point and from Melkor's earlier machinations.

"Many there grieved for the anguish of Feanor, but his loss was not his
alone; and Yavanna wept by the mound, in fear that the Darkness should
swallow the last rays of the Light of Valinor for ever."

I don't quite get this. Is this saying that others (like the rest of the
Noldor and the Valar) mourned Finwe as much as Feanor did? Or is it a
(very) oblique reference to Fingolfin and Finarfin, saying that they too
have lost a father?

The impression I get from the sentence construction (the use of the
semi-colon) is that Tolkien may have been comparing the loss of the
Trees with Feanor's loss of his father. But that seems silly to me.

> Now the Silmarils are gone, and Feanor storms off to rabble-rouse the
> Noldor into going after them.

I don't think he had the intention of rabble-rousing (great phrase!) the
Noldor at this point. He still seems to be just mad with rage and grief.
But yes, pretty soon afterwards he does start his rabble-rousing. I
would guess that at some point he begins recalling the other words of
Melkor, and then, after the initial grief subsided, though still
distraught, he went to Tirion to raise the Noldor to follow him after
Melkor.

> In the meantime, Morgoth (as he is almost always called now) and
> Ungoliant flee over the wastes of Araman to the north of Valinor,
> escape across the Grinding Ice, and set foot in the far northwest of
> Middle-earth. Tolkien mentions that they travel together because
> "Morgoth could not elude" her; this implies that he is already
> seeking to renege on whatever reward he had promised her for her
> help. She is sticking close, with her cloud still around him and her
> eyes on him.

"all her eyes were upon him"

I love that "all" thrown in there, to remind us that Ungoliant is a
many-eyed spider-like monster! :-)

> As they approach his old fortress of Angband, she
> realizes he hopes to cheat her and demands payment.

I like the moment where she calls Morgoth: "Blackheart!" I'm sure there
is an etymological history there that could be interesting.

> He ends up
> giving her all the gems of the Noldor except the Silmarils. She
> wants them, too, and entangles him in her webs. He cries out

"The cry of Morgoth in that hour was the greatest and most dreadful that
was ever heard in the northern world; the mountains shook, and the earth
trembled, and rocks were riven asunder."

Methinks that Morgoth is begining to know fear! He really thought that
he was going to be devoured by Ungoliant.

> his Balrogs, hiding nearby, hear and come to his rescue, slashing her
> webs with their whips of fire. She flees

"she quailed, and turned to flight, belching black vapours to cover her"

This always reminds me of how a squid squirts black ink to cover its
flight.

<snip>

> Morgoth rebuilds Angband and raises above its gate a new addition, A
> giant tower-mountain of slag called Thangorodrim. He begins to build
> up his armies. He puts the Silmarils in a crown which he never takes
> off, and spends his spirit in creating followers and inspiring them to
> evil, and only once does he ever leave his fortress again.

"...his majesty as one of the Valar long remained, though turned to
terror, and before his face all save the mightiest sank into a dark pit
of fear."

Which would be a bit of a bummer if you didn't want them to fear you. It
sounds like Morgoth could no longer assume fair form, and this
inspiration of terror couldn't be "turned off". I guess there might have
been moments when Morgoth might have wanted to talk, laugh, joke and
enjoy the world with others. Small moments of regret when he realised
the living hell that he was enduring. Unless he enjoyed this sort of
thing, of course. But it sounds like a living hell to me. With that
heavy crown and being trapped in a single form.

I don't believe it! I'm starting to feel compassion and empathy for
Morgoth, as well as Feanor! :-)

<snip>

> Then Feanor and his sons swear their terrible oath of undying enmity
> against any, good or evil, that keep them from the Silmarils, and this
> oath becomes a major mover in the saga, many eventually becoming
> tangled in it to great sorrow.

"For so sworn, good or evil, an oath may not be broken, and it shall
pursue oathkeeper and oathbreaker to the world's end."

How can it pursue oathkeeper? Is Tolkien saying that by keeping the oath
the oathkeepers will have to do great evil, and that the consequences of
that will pursue them?

<snip>

> As the Noldor reach the edge of the settled Undying Lands, a great
> figure is seen standing high upon a rock. Some think it is Mandos
> himself, and he pronounces the prophecy and curse known as the
> Prophecy of the North and the Doom of the Noldor.

I'm having to rush past the rest of this long chapter (hope to return to
it later), but this is one of the _great_ moment in 'The Silmarillion'.
Couldn't pass this by without lauding it.

"Ye have spilled the blood of your kindred unrighteously and have
stained the land of Aman. For blood ye shall render blood, and beyond
Aman ye shall dwell in Death's shadow. [...] those that endure in
Middle-earth and come not to Mandos shall grow weary of the world as
with a great burden, and shall wane, and become as shadows of regret
before the younger race that cometh after. The Valar have spoken."

Eek! Wouldn't _you_ start having second thoughts? :-)

Seriously though, what were the Valar trying to accomplish with this
message? They got some of the Noldor to turn back. If all of them had
turned back, would would have happened then? Would everyone have lived
happily ever after in Aman?

> Feanor basically says, maybe so, but at least cowardice won't be a
> problem and determines to drive on, but Finarfin and a smaller party
> of Noldor turn back, and are forgiven and welcomed.

Thus answering the question that wouldn't have been answered if no-one
had turned back. The Valar really will forgive those who repent. I
wonder what they would have said to Feanor, had he come back in sorrow
and contrition? Yeah, I know, it would never have happened! :-)

<snip>

> Feanor, about as mad as a hare at this point, causes the
> ships to be burnt.

He does seem to be rather nutty by now, doesn't he? I really think
Feanor is having some sort of mental breakdown. But he must seem OK for
the Noldor (or rather Feanorians by this point) to still follow him, or
are the Feanorians so cowed by Feanor that they will still follow a mad
leader?

<snip>

> This chapter establishes a number of motifs that will arise again and
> again: betrayal and and being too quick to fear of betrayal

Good point. Being too quick to fear betrayal can be just as divisive and
soul-destroying as an actual betrayal.

> rashly swearing an oath and dooming oneself and others in the process;
> the Feanorians being too quick to use any means to get their ends;
others
> of great nobility suffering and failing, however bright they might be
> in their fall

I think a truly noble thing would have been for the Teleri to have
willingly given up their ships. They would have shown themselves to be
wiser and more humble than Feanor. Doesn't excuse what the Noldor did
(those who did the initial killing - not those who arrive later), but
the Teleri are falling into the same trap as Feanor (and Yavanna?) -
esteeming the works of their hands too highly. Turgon later falls into
the same trap, esteeming Gondolin too highly to leave it despite Ulmo's
words about not loving too well the works of his hands. Finrod, in
constrast, does the noble and right thing, giving up his kingdom to
honour his oath to Beren's father.

<snip>

> When I read this chapter, I feel the momentum that started in the
> proceeding chapter crescendoing like crazy. I find it very moving,
> that might just be me. I enjoy just as well the drafts in Morgoth's
> Ring. What do others think?

Haven't read the drafts. What are the differences?

I agree about the momentum and crescendos. The pace really does pick up
here. Maybe the contrast is so noticeable because of the, um, slower,
parts of 'The Silmarillion'?

Christopher

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

Taemon

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Mar 8, 2006, 5:56:27 AM3/8/06
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Christopher Kreuzer wrote:

> "It seemed to him that he was beset in a ring of enemies, and the
> words of Melkor returned to him, saying that the Silmarils were
> not safe, if the Valar would possess them. 'And is he not Vala as
> are they,' said his thought, 'and does he not understand their
> hearts? Yea, a thief shall reveal thieves!'"

You know... this sounds silly, but I always thought, well, there were
*three* Silmarils. And they were the same. Why not give up one?

> I think a truly noble thing would have been for the Teleri to have
> willingly given up their ships. They would have shown themselves
> to be wiser and more humble than Feanor. Doesn't excuse what the
> Noldor did (those who did the initial killing - not those who
> arrive later), but the Teleri are falling into the same trap as
> Feanor (and Yavanna?) - esteeming the works of their hands too
> highly.

It might have been wise, but I don't think this is a matter of pride.
It isn't the greater good they are asked to give up their ships for.
It is for the ego of a suicidal maniac who turns up on their doorstep
and demands their most precious possession. I can imagine their
reaction was "Fuck you".

T.


er...@swva.net

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Mar 8, 2006, 7:36:59 AM3/8/06
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Taemon wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
>
> > "It seemed to him that he was beset in a ring of enemies, and the
> > words of Melkor returned to him, saying that the Silmarils were
> > not safe, if the Valar would possess them. 'And is he not Vala as
> > are they,' said his thought, 'and does he not understand their
> > hearts? Yea, a thief shall reveal thieves!'"
>
> You know... this sounds silly, but I always thought, well, there were
> *three* Silmarils. And they were the same. Why not give up one?

And break up the set!?!

>
> > I think a truly noble thing would have been for the Teleri to have
> > willingly given up their ships. They would have shown themselves
> > to be wiser and more humble than Feanor. Doesn't excuse what the
> > Noldor did (those who did the initial killing - not those who
> > arrive later), but the Teleri are falling into the same trap as
> > Feanor (and Yavanna?) - esteeming the works of their hands too
> > highly.
>
> It might have been wise, but I don't think this is a matter of pride.
> It isn't the greater good they are asked to give up their ships for.
> It is for the ego of a suicidal maniac who turns up on their doorstep
> and demands their most precious possession. I can imagine their
> reaction was "Fuck you".
>
> T.

Agreed. Plus, it says that Olwe didn't allow Melkor in his territory,
so the Teleri weren't under the influence of those seeds of discontent
that he had sewn amongst the Noldor. Thus, they would have had no
predisposition to feel that the Valar deserved to be rebelled against.
Cooler heads might have helped the Noldor build their own ships over,
say, the next year, if Feanor had not seemed so "fey," as Tolkien calls
it.

Eric Root

er...@swva.net

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Mar 8, 2006, 7:41:55 AM3/8/06
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Morgil wrote:
> er...@swva.net wrote:
>
> > Crime follows crime. Feanor goes to the Teleri to borrow their ships
> > for the passage of the north sea, otherwise the Noldor will have to
> > attempt to cross by land and dare the Grinding Ice,
>
> This is incorrect. Noldor at that point, didn't know
> about Helcaraxe, and it came as a surprise to them.

I didn't mean that Feanor knew about the ice, just that they would,in
fact, have to hoof it without ships. You are right, though, I needed
to say it differently here.

>
> > The Noldor now proceed as two hosts, the larger one belonging to
> > Fingolfin and forced to walk, while Feanor and his followers,
> > representing most of the guiltiest parties to the Kinslaying, travel
> > parallel to them offshore in the boats.
>
> This is also incorrect. The ships only had basic
> crews on board, and those were Feanor's followers,
> but no passengers. Everyone else travelled on foot.
>
> Morgil

You are right again, I was sloppy. I also did not mention that after
the kinslaying was a storm that wrecked some of the ships; Feanor is
lucky that they did not lose more people than they did.

Eric Root

Troels Forchhammer

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Mar 8, 2006, 10:23:33 AM3/8/06
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Cross-posting to AFT

In message
<news:1141789507.2...@j52g2000cwj.googlegroups.com>
er...@swva.net enriched us with:

JimboCat

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Mar 8, 2006, 2:50:27 PM3/8/06
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Christopher Kreuzer wrote:

>er...@swva.net wrote:

>> Feanor, about as mad as a hare at this point, causes the
>> ships to be burnt.

>He does seem to be rather nutty by now, doesn't he? I really think
>Feanor is having some sort of mental breakdown. But he must seem OK for
>the Noldor (or rather Feanorians by this point) to still follow him, or
>are the Feanorians so cowed by Feanor that they will still follow a mad
>leader?

I don't think the Elves had any experience with madness. Feanor's
mother's "death" is about the closest thing to it that's ever happened
before (at least, that's ever been reported in the tales that have come
down to us). Aman, after all, is not a place conducive to disease,
mental or otherwise. Even Melkor was trusted as being sane, open and
truthful until he revealed himself, stole the Silmarils, and destroyed
the Trees. Only Feanor mistrusted him: was Feanor's madness already
begun at that point (the old "it takes one to know one" thing...)?

Jim Deutch (JimboCat)
--
"Some value certainty above truth." -- Raven

Matthew Woodcraft

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Mar 8, 2006, 4:14:05 PM3/8/06
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Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:

> I think a truly noble thing would have been for the Teleri to have
> willingly given up their ships. They would have shown themselves to be
> wiser and more humble than Feanor. Doesn't excuse what the Noldor did
> (those who did the initial killing - not those who arrive later), but
> the Teleri are falling into the same trap as Feanor (and Yavanna?) -
> esteeming the works of their hands too highly. Turgon later falls into
> the same trap, esteeming Gondolin too highly to leave it despite Ulmo's
> words about not loving too well the works of his hands. Finrod, in
> constrast, does the noble and right thing, giving up his kingdom to
> honour his oath to Beren's father.


You might be able to see giving up the ships willingly as an
opportunity to "take the higher path", but I don't think so. Olwe's
line about it being the part of a friend to rebuke a friend's folly
seems right to me.


But it must have been wrong to resist the Noldor with force when they
tried to take the ships. They were not worth dying for, and they were
certainly not worth killing for. So the Teleri have also been brought
into wrongdoing.


-M-

er...@swva.net

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Mar 8, 2006, 7:03:41 PM3/8/06
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JimboCat wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
>
> >er...@swva.net wrote:
>
> >> Feanor, about as mad as a hare at this point, causes the
> >> ships to be burnt.
>
> >He does seem to be rather nutty by now, doesn't he? I really think
> >Feanor is having some sort of mental breakdown. But he must seem OK for
> >the Noldor (or rather Feanorians by this point) to still follow him, or
> >are the Feanorians so cowed by Feanor that they will still follow a mad
> >leader?
>
> I don't think the Elves had any experience with madness. Feanor's
> mother's "death" is about the closest thing to it that's ever happened
> before (at least, that's ever been reported in the tales that have come
> down to us).

I hadn't thought of that, but I think you're right.

> Aman, after all, is not a place conducive to disease,
> mental or otherwise. Even Melkor was trusted as being sane, open and
> truthful until he revealed himself, stole the Silmarils, and destroyed
> the Trees. Only Feanor mistrusted him: was Feanor's madness already
> begun at that point (the old "it takes one to know one" thing...)?

Sounds good to me.

>
> Jim Deutch (JimboCat)
> --
> "Some value certainty above truth." -- Raven

Sorry for the "me too" post, but I just had to say "Me, too." <8^)

Eric Root

Glenn Holliday

unread,
Mar 8, 2006, 9:48:29 PM3/8/06
to
er...@swva.net wrote:

> Then Feanor and his sons swear their terrible oath of undying enmity
> against any, good or evil, that keep them from the Silmarils, and this
> oath becomes a major mover in the saga, many eventually becoming
> tangled in it to great sorrow.

Yes. The Oath is almost a character from here on out.
I think it's an example of a Wicked Oath, and a wiser
Feanor or his sons would have considered breaking it.
But Tolkien chooses to have everybody involved assume
that it's unbreakable.

> When I read this chapter, I feel the momentum that started in the
> proceeding chapter crescendoing like crazy. I find it very moving,
> that might just be me. I enjoy just as well the drafts in Morgoth's
> Ring. What do others think?

Yes. This is classical tragedy. Feanor's own character flaw starts
a landslide that brings him, and many around him, to a bad end.

--
Glenn Holliday holl...@acm.org

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Mar 9, 2006, 2:51:32 AM3/9/06
to
Matthew Woodcraft <matt...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
>
>> I think a truly noble thing would have been for the Teleri to have
>> willingly given up their ships. They would have shown themselves to
>> be wiser and more humble than Feanor. Doesn't excuse what the Noldor
>> did (those who did the initial killing - not those who arrive
>> later), but the Teleri are falling into the same trap as Feanor (and
>> Yavanna?) - esteeming the works of their hands too highly. Turgon
>> later falls into the same trap, esteeming Gondolin too highly to
>> leave it despite Ulmo's words about not loving too well the works of
>> his hands. Finrod, in constrast, does the noble and right thing,
>> giving up his kingdom to honour his oath to Beren's father.
>
> You might be able to see giving up the ships willingly as an
> opportunity to "take the higher path"

Probably because I didn't build the ships.

> but I don't think so.

On reflection, I agree. If it was something I cared deeply about, then I
would be less willing to give it up so freely.

> Olwe's line about it being the part of a friend to rebuke a friend's
folly
> seems right to me.

I'd forgotten that. A nice way of putting it.

> But it must have been wrong to resist the Noldor with force when they
> tried to take the ships. They were not worth dying for, and they were
> certainly not worth killing for. So the Teleri have also been brought
> into wrongdoing.

That is what I was trying to get at. Thanks.

It is difficult though, and terribly easy to cross the line between "you
can't have these ships", failing to recognise that some of the Noldor
were at least as strong-willed over having the ships as the Teleri were
over keeping them, to fighting over them, and finally, escalating to
killing over them, though that last step is a big one.

"[Feanor] sat in dark thought beyond the walls of Alqualonde, until his
host was assembled. When he judged that his strength was enough, he went
to the Haven of the Swans and began to man the ships that were anchored
there and to take them away by force. But the Teleri withstood him, and
cast many of the Noldor into the sea."

Things might still have been OK up to this point if reason and cooler
heads had prevailed, but the conflict soon escalates beyond control...

"Then swords were drawn..."

I'm still not clear where the Noldor learnt the mindset necessary to
kill. Going from man-handling people (Teleri) to killing is a big
difference. Could we speculate that Feanor and his sons drew swords
first? Do earlier versions shed any light on this? We know that this
initial fighting was carried out by the Feanorians.

And of course, once the killing starts, stopping the conflict would have
been difficult, as the Teleri take up their bows to defend themselves
(they may have later regretted this). I find it particularly tragic that
some of the people of Fingolfin (lead by Fingon) joined in late without
realising what was happening.

I wonder what Feanor said to them afterwards? Did he allow the
misunderstanding that the Teleri had waylaid them to go uncorrected? Did
he actively lie about what happened?

Also, I get the feeling that Finarfin and his people (being last on the
road) may not have participated in the Kinslaying (but should still have
turned back after the Kinslaying, rather than later, after the Doom of
the Noldor was declared). We do read later, of Fingolfin people, that:
"not all of them had been guiltless of the Kinslaying at Alqualonde".
But I can't find anything definitive about the guilt (or lack of) for
Finarfin and his people.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Mar 9, 2006, 2:54:10 AM3/9/06
to
Taemon <Tae...@zonnet.nl> wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
>
>> "It seemed to him that he was beset in a ring of enemies, and the
>> words of Melkor returned to him, saying that the Silmarils were
>> not safe, if the Valar would possess them. 'And is he not Vala as
>> are they,' said his thought, 'and does he not understand their
>> hearts? Yea, a thief shall reveal thieves!'"
>
> You know... this sounds silly, but I always thought, well, there were
> *three* Silmarils. And they were the same. Why not give up one?

Yavanna: Oops. That wasn't enough light, and there are _two_ trees. Do
have any more of those pretty baubles? Two more? That should be
enough.... I think.

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Mar 9, 2006, 7:04:53 AM3/9/06
to
In message
<news:1141821715....@v46g2000cwv.googlegroups.com>
er...@swva.net enriched us with:
>
> Morgil wrote:

>> er...@swva.net wrote:
>>>
>> Noldor at that point, didn't know about Helcaraxe, and it
>> came as a surprise to them.
>
> I didn't mean that Feanor knew about the ice, just that they
> would,in fact, have to hoof it without ships. You are right,
> though, I needed to say it differently here.

I am not so sure. I would suggest that the Helcaraxė did, at the
least, not come as a surprise for the Noldor.

The paragraph where Fėanor makes the decision to try to persuade the
Teleri to join him shows a good understanding of the general
geography that certainly doesn't exclude knowledge of the Helcaraxė
specifically. Furthermore we hear later:

The Noldor came at last far into the north of Arda; and
they saw the first teeth of the ice that floated in the
sea, and knew that they were drawing nigh to the Helcaraxė.
[Silm, /Quenta Silmarillion/, ch. 9 'Of the Flight of the Noldor']

The Noldor knew when they 'saw the first teeth of the ice' that they
were getting near to the Helcaraxė; that seems impossible to me if
they don't know that the Helcaraxė is there at all.

As for sources for that knowledge, we are told that none but the
Valar and Ungoliant had braved it, but by what other route could
Oromė have carried the ambassadors of the Eldar when they went to see
Valinor -- including Fėanor's own father, Finwė. Getting in on a ride
as a passenger wouldn't, IMO, count as a contradiction of the
statement that "there none yet had dared to tread save the Valar only
and Ungoliant."

Also, in the QS (/Quenta Silmarillion/, HoMe V, /The Lost Road/), ch.
5 'Of the Flight of the Noldor', the passage where Fėanor considers
his options mentions the Helcaraxė specifically:

As his mind cooled and took counsel, he saw that the Noldor
might hardly escape without many vessels; [...]. But there
were none, and he brooked no delay, fearing lest many
should desert him. Yet they must at some time cross the
seas, albeit far to the North where they were narrower; for
further still, to those places where the western land and
Middle-earth touched nigh, he feared to venture. There he
knew was Helkarakse, the Strait of Grinding Ice, where the
frozen hills ever broke and shifted, sundering and clashing
again together.

>> The ships only had basic crews on board, and those were Feanor's
>> followers, but no passengers. Everyone else travelled on foot.
>

> You are right again, I was sloppy.

The ships were 'manned only by those who had fought [at Alqualondė]
and were bound to Fėanor', but I don't think there is anything to
indicate only skeleton crews. We hear that they pressed on northwards
'some by ship and some by land', but that is all that I can see until
we learn later that those on the ships were Fėanor's men.

In a real campaign the ships would have carried as many passengers as
possible to spare them the walk. In this case it is harder to say
either way from what I can see.

Is it possible that all those who fought at the Haven and were loyal
to Fėanor were manning the ships, so that all of Fėanor's remaining
host was on board the ships already?

In any case, I don't think the text has anything to say about whether
there were passengers on the ships while they were moving north.
Standard practice would indicate that they did have passengers, but
it is uncertain whether that would apply here.

> I also did not mention that after the kinslaying was a storm that
> wrecked some of the ships; Feanor is lucky that they did not lose
> more people than they did.

and there remained /now/ not enough to bear across all the
great host together;
(my emphasis)

This seems to me to suggest that had it not been for the storm of
Uinen's weeping the fleet would have sufficed to carry all the
Noldor?

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

Love while you've got
love to give.
Live while you've got
life to live.
- Piet Hein, /Memento Vivere/

Derek Broughton

unread,
Mar 9, 2006, 9:18:17 AM3/9/06
to
Matthew Woodcraft wrote:

> You might be able to see giving up the ships willingly as an
> opportunity to "take the higher path", but I don't think so. Olwe's
> line about it being the part of a friend to rebuke a friend's folly
> seems right to me.

Damn! Why couldn't I remember that line when Americans were so upset that
Canada wouldn't join their jihad in Iraq?
--
derek

Taemon

unread,
Mar 9, 2006, 12:34:55 PM3/9/06
to
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:

> I'm still not clear where the Noldor learnt the mindset necessary
> to kill. Going from man-handling people (Teleri) to killing is a
> big difference. Could we speculate that Feanor and his sons drew
> swords first?

What were they carrying swords for, anyway? The only use they have is
killing people.

T.


Taemon

unread,
Mar 9, 2006, 12:39:54 PM3/9/06
to
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:

> Taemon <Tae...@zonnet.nl> wrote:
>> You know... this sounds silly, but I always thought, well, there
>> were *three* Silmarils. And they were the same. Why not give up
>> one?
> Yavanna: Oops. That wasn't enough light, and there are _two_
> trees. Do have any more of those pretty baubles? Two more? That
> should be enough.... I think.

Two. One for each tree. Elegant, no?

T.


Morgil

unread,
Mar 9, 2006, 2:36:55 PM3/9/06
to
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
> Matthew Woodcraft <matt...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:

>>Olwe's line about it being the part of a friend to rebuke a friend's
>
> folly
>
>>seems right to me.
>
>
> I'd forgotten that. A nice way of putting it.

Or incredibly patronising, depending on your point of view.
Hypocritical anyway, since their real concerns were fear of
pissing off Valar, and their precious ships...

<snip> I find it particularly tragic that


> some of the people of Fingolfin (lead by Fingon) joined in late without
> realising what was happening.
>
> I wonder what Feanor said to them afterwards? Did he allow the
> misunderstanding that the Teleri had waylaid them to go uncorrected? Did
> he actively lie about what happened?

Would he have been wrong? The direct path to Middle-Earth
was across the sea, and Teleri were preventing them from
using it, for the basic reason that they thought it was
what Valar would have wanted them to do. It's also hard
to imagine how Fingon would have missed the fact that the
battle was about taking over the harbour and the ships...

Morgil

Derek Broughton

unread,
Mar 9, 2006, 2:34:11 PM3/9/06
to
Taemon wrote:

Swords don't kill people, people kill people (oops, wrong ng).
--
derek

Tamim

unread,
Mar 9, 2006, 3:29:20 PM3/9/06
to
In alt.fan.tolkien Taemon <Tae...@zonnet.nl> wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer wrote:

>> I'm still not clear where the Noldor learnt the mindset necessary
>> to kill.

They had fought against the orcs (or other creatures of Melkor) before coming
to Aman

Going from man-handling people (Teleri) to killing is a
>> big difference. Could we speculate that Feanor and his sons drew
>> swords first?

> What were they carrying swords for, anyway? The only use they have is
> killing people.


Or killing orcs or demons or Morgoth. They were going to ME to chase
Morgoth, not to live happily ever after. What did you suppose they would
take with? Philosophical literature?


> T.

--

er...@swva.net

unread,
Mar 9, 2006, 3:59:32 PM3/9/06
to

Actually, I did and used it when some of my right-wing friends were
vilifying France and Germany for not joining the coalition. I may have
rendered a folksier version, such as, "Sometimes the best thing a
friend can do is tell you when you're full of beans."

Eric Root

Morgil

unread,
Mar 9, 2006, 4:01:48 PM3/9/06
to
Troels Forchhammer wrote:

> Also, in the QS (/Quenta Silmarillion/, HoMe V, /The Lost Road/), ch.

> 5 'Of the Flight of the Noldor', the passage where Fëanor considers
> his options mentions the Helcaraxë specifically:

>
> As his mind cooled and took counsel, he saw that the Noldor
> might hardly escape without many vessels; [...]. But there
> were none, and he brooked no delay, fearing lest many
> should desert him. Yet they must at some time cross the
> seas, albeit far to the North where they were narrower; for
> further still, to those places where the western land and
> Middle-earth touched nigh, he feared to venture. There he
> knew was Helkarakse, the Strait of Grinding Ice, where the
> frozen hills ever broke and shifted, sundering and clashing
> again together.

Oh, that's interesting. Possibly they did know then that
there was some kind of solid passage over to Middle-Earth.
My interpretation was based on the two points, that first,
Feanor was certain he would need ships to get across:

"But as the mind of Fëanor cooled and took counsel he
perceived overlate that all these great companies would
never overcome the long leagues to the north, nor cross
the seas at the last, save with the aid of ships..."

And second, that it was only at the edge of Helcaraxe,
that Feanor concluded that it was indeed impassable.

"But Fëanor, knowing all that was said, took counsel
with his sons; and two courses only they saw to escape
from Araman and come into Endor: by the straits or by
ship. But the Helcaraxë they deemed impassable, whereas
the ships were too few."

However, the main point to me, would seem to be that
the whole journey to the north itself, would have
been impossible, save with the aid of ships...

>>>The ships only had basic crews on board, and those were Feanor's
>>>followers, but no passengers. Everyone else travelled on foot.
>>
>>You are right again, I was sloppy.
>
>

> The ships were 'manned only by those who had fought [at Alqualondë]
> and were bound to Fëanor', but I don't think there is anything to

> indicate only skeleton crews. We hear that they pressed on northwards
> 'some by ship and some by land', but that is all that I can see until

> we learn later that those on the ships were Fëanor's men.

>
> In a real campaign the ships would have carried as many passengers as
> possible to spare them the walk. In this case it is harder to say
> either way from what I can see.
>
> Is it possible that all those who fought at the Haven and were loyal

> to Fëanor were manning the ships, so that all of Fëanor's remaining

> host was on board the ships already?

One thing we know is that Feanor had to sneak in the people
loyal to him, when he decided to slip away from the others.
So at least in this point only the crews were onboard ships.

> In any case, I don't think the text has anything to say about whether
> there were passengers on the ships while they were moving north.
> Standard practice would indicate that they did have passengers, but
> it is uncertain whether that would apply here.

I seriously doubt that Feanor would have taken the risk that
in case of another big storm, it would have been only himself
and his supporters who would suffer the casualities.

>>I also did not mention that after the kinslaying was a storm that
>>wrecked some of the ships; Feanor is lucky that they did not lose
>>more people than they did.
>
>
> and there remained /now/ not enough to bear across all the
> great host together;
> (my emphasis)
>
> This seems to me to suggest that had it not been for the storm of
> Uinen's weeping the fleet would have sufficed to carry all the
> Noldor?

Doesn't it also suggest that if the ships had been full of
passengers, who all had drowned, the ratio between people
and carrying capacity would have remained the same? :)

Morgil

er...@swva.net

unread,
Mar 9, 2006, 4:17:00 PM3/9/06
to
Morgil wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
> > Matthew Woodcraft <matt...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
>
> >>Olwe's line about it being the part of a friend to rebuke a friend's
> >
> > folly
> >
> >>seems right to me.
> >
> >
> > I'd forgotten that. A nice way of putting it.
>
> Or incredibly patronising, depending on your point of view.

No doubt that was Feanor's opinion.

> Hypocritical anyway, since their real concerns were fear of
> pissing off Valar, and their precious ships...

You jump to conclusions; we don't know but that they really did think
it a foolish venture, in which case it is not out of place to tell
Feanor so. Also, they didn't necessarily "fear" pissing off the Valar,
but rather, not having had planted in their minds all the suspicions
and discontents against the Valar that the Noldor had, could have
genuinely disagreed that what was going on justified defying them.
Also, no one likes to be pushed, and Feanor was being very pushy.

>
> <snip> I find it particularly tragic that
> > some of the people of Fingolfin (lead by Fingon) joined in late without
> > realising what was happening.
> >
> > I wonder what Feanor said to them afterwards? Did he allow the
> > misunderstanding that the Teleri had waylaid them to go uncorrected? Did
> > he actively lie about what happened?
>
> Would he have been wrong? The direct path to Middle-Earth
> was across the sea, and Teleri were preventing them from
> using it,

If Feanor had appeared calm and rational, I'll bet Olwe could have been
convinced to help them build their own blankety-blank ships, but Feanor
was in a hurry to move before his own people had second thoughts. In
the long run, if they'd stopped to build their own ships and just
sailed straight across, they'd have probably gotten there just as
quick.

> for the basic reason that they thought it was
> what Valar would have wanted them to do. It's also hard
> to imagine how Fingon would have missed the fact that the
> battle was about taking over the harbour and the ships...
>

True. Just one more indication that Tolkien was, ultimately, only
human.

Eric Root
> Morgil

Morgil

unread,
Mar 9, 2006, 9:14:20 PM3/9/06
to
er...@swva.net wrote:
> Morgil wrote:
>
>>Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
>>
>>>Matthew Woodcraft <matt...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
>>
>>>>Olwe's line about it being the part of a friend to rebuke a friend's
>>>
>>>folly
>>>
>>>
>>>>seems right to me.
>>>
>>>
>>>I'd forgotten that. A nice way of putting it.
>>
>>Or incredibly patronising, depending on your point of view.
>
>
> No doubt that was Feanor's opinion.
>
>
>>Hypocritical anyway, since their real concerns were fear of
>>pissing off Valar, and their precious ships...
>
>
> You jump to conclusions; we don't know but that they really did think
> it a foolish venture, in which case it is not out of place to tell
> Feanor so.

Telling so is of course in place. Telling that "if you are
not smart enough to understand this, we will just have to
make that decision for you" - not as much. And that is what
Olwe was in effect saying.

> Also, they didn't necessarily "fear" pissing off the Valar,
> but rather, not having had planted in their minds all the suspicions
> and discontents against the Valar that the Noldor had, could have
> genuinely disagreed that what was going on justified defying them.

"unwillingness to defy Valar" works just the same.
The ironic part was that Valar had alreay stated that
the Noldor were free to go at will.

> Also, no one likes to be pushed, and Feanor was being very pushy.

He only became pushy afterwards when Teleri declined their help.

Morgil

Emma Pease

unread,
Mar 9, 2006, 9:54:30 PM3/9/06
to
In article <88RPf.32802$wl.1...@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>,
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:

> I wonder what Feanor said to them afterwards? Did he allow the
> misunderstanding that the Teleri had waylaid them to go uncorrected? Did
> he actively lie about what happened?
>
> Also, I get the feeling that Finarfin and his people (being last on the
> road) may not have participated in the Kinslaying (but should still have
> turned back after the Kinslaying, rather than later, after the Doom of
> the Noldor was declared). We do read later, of Fingolfin people, that:
> "not all of them had been guiltless of the Kinslaying at Alqualonde".
> But I can't find anything definitive about the guilt (or lack of) for
> Finarfin and his people.

I think Finarfin's people were innocent. Certainly Thingol didn't
think they were guilty and he felt that Fingolfin's people had paid.

And where was Earwen, Finarfin's wife? I very much doubt she took
one step beyond Alqualonde but she might never have left Tuna.

Emma


--
\----
|\* | Emma Pease Net Spinster
|_\/ Die Luft der Freiheit weht

er...@swva.net

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Mar 9, 2006, 10:50:50 PM3/9/06
to

Did both hosts strictly take care of their own "women and children," I
wonder. I would otherwise think that whichever place was deemed safer,
aboard or on land, would be where most children of wither host would be
concentrated. But maybe the parties mistrusted each other too much
already.

> >>I also did not mention that after the kinslaying was a storm that
> >>wrecked some of the ships; Feanor is lucky that they did not lose
> >>more people than they did.
> >
> >
> > and there remained /now/ not enough to bear across all the
> > great host together;
> > (my emphasis)
> >
> > This seems to me to suggest that had it not been for the storm of
> > Uinen's weeping the fleet would have sufficed to carry all the
> > Noldor?
>
> Doesn't it also suggest that if the ships had been full of
> passengers, who all had drowned, the ratio between people
> and carrying capacity would have remained the same? :)

That's what I've always figured, but I have no direct experience with
shipping, per se.

>
> Morgil

Eric Root

er...@swva.net

unread,
Mar 9, 2006, 11:02:36 PM3/9/06
to

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:

(snip)

>
> "Then swords were drawn..."
>
> I'm still not clear where the Noldor learnt the mindset necessary to
> kill. Going from man-handling people (Teleri) to killing is a big
> difference. Could we speculate that Feanor and his sons drew swords
> first?

Heck yes. Remember when Feanor drew a sword on Fingolfin back in
Tirion? Feanor's quick cycle to violence was already presaged there.

(snip)

Eric Root

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Mar 10, 2006, 10:45:23 AM3/10/06
to
In message <news:duq540$1do$1...@nyytiset.pp.htv.fi>
Morgil <more...@hotmail.com> enriched us with:
>
> Troels Forchhammer wrote:
>>

<snip>

> Oh, that's interesting. Possibly they did know then that
> there was some kind of solid passage over to Middle-Earth.
> My interpretation was based on the two points, that first,
> Feanor was certain he would need ships to get across:

I don't think that you can use that -- it doesn't matter whether he
knew there was an impassable ice-packed passage or not; he would
conclude that he needed ships in any case, because he believed that
they couldn't pass on foot.

> And second, that it was only at the edge of Helcaraxe,
> that Feanor concluded that it was indeed impassable.

They are, at that point, still a bit from Helcaraxë, having but been
'drawing near to the Helcaraxë'. It may be that theis conclusion was
reached at that time, but it doesn't follow necessarily. This could
have been merely a affirmation that when it was this cold when they
were only drawing near to the place, then the place itself must be
impassable as they had assumed all along.

Ultimately I think the text as published makes it impossible to tell
either way -- it can be interpreted both ways.

<snip>

>> Is it possible that all those who fought at the Haven and were
>> loyal to Fëanor were manning the ships, so that all of Fëanor's
>> remaining host was on board the ships already?
>
> One thing we know is that Feanor had to sneak in the people
> loyal to him, when he decided to slip away from the others.
> So at least in this point only the crews were onboard ships.

Or no-one were, being all in a huge encampment on land while the
leaders were discussing what to do?

Or those he sneaked away with (deeming them true to him) were only a
few who had got leave to go ashore?

Again my point is not that your interpretation is necessarily wrong,
but that the text doesn't support one interpretation above the other.

<snip>

>> This seems to me to suggest that had it not been for the storm of
>> Uinen's weeping the fleet would have sufficed to carry all the
>> Noldor?
>
> Doesn't it also suggest that if the ships had been full of
> passengers, who all had drowned, the ratio between people
> and carrying capacity would have remained the same? :)

The ships, when they sailed from Alqualondë, obviously weren't filled
to the maximum of their capacity -- there must (if my interpretation
is correct) have been room left for all those who didn't join the
fight.

But Fëanor's part of the Noldor could still be larger than what was
needed for basic crews, and we cannot tell how they got from
Alqualondë to the north; whether by ship or by foot.

While standard practice would dictate that as many as possible were
put on the ships, as that was both safer and conserved their strength
better, this was obviously not done for the host as a whole, and I
could imagine that even Fingolfin would get suspicious had Fëanor
tried to put /all/ his people on the ships at once. Still, I imagine
that the ships did carry some passengers at least, even if far from
the number they were able to carry -- the flight included women and
children as well.

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

One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters.
- Aragorn "Strider", /Two Towers/ (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Russell Paradox

unread,
Mar 11, 2006, 7:03:24 PM3/11/06
to
On Thu, 9 Mar 2006, Troels Forchhammer wrote:

TF> The ships were 'manned only by those who had fought [at AlqualondÎ]
TF> and were bound to FÎanor', but I don't think there is anything to
TF> indicate only skeleton crews. We hear that they pressed on northwards
TF> 'some by ship and some by land', but that is all that I can see until
TF> we learn later that those on the ships were FÎanor's men.
TF>
TF> In a real campaign the ships would have carried as many passengers as
TF> possible to spare them the walk. In this case it is harder to say
TF> either way from what I can see.

The early version of the story given in the Book of Lost Tales states
that the ships were loaded with women and children " and a great host
beside" ; what is more, carrying passengers was the reason given to try to
take the ships in the first place:

" Now northward thence the road was very rugged and evil and the Noldoli
had with them nigh as many maids and women as of men and boys (...)
Behold, the counsel of Feanor is that by no means can that host hope to
win swiftly along the coast save by the aid of ships."

Funny that this disappeared from the later version. Maybe the notion that
female fragility justified theft and murder started to sound like a bad
plot further into the 20th century, even someone with a traditional
mind-set... Crossing the sea offers a far more plausible reason to try to
take the ships by force, although the Silmarillion text also mentions

that "all these great companies would never overcome the long leagues to

the north" ; which implies that the ships were carrying passengers along
the coast, although perhaps Galadriel had to put on her trekking boots
after all :-)

A.
--
Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch.
--Orson Welles

Taemon

unread,
Mar 12, 2006, 3:57:25 AM3/12/06
to
Tamim wrote:

Well, Nietzsche would... no, before that. You are living in Paradise
and the gods walk among you. Already you are carrying swords, since
you have them when you suddenly decide to go out in the real world and
kill some people. There are no orcs in Valinor.

T.


Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Mar 22, 2006, 1:53:04 PM3/22/06
to
In message
<news:1141847426....@i39g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>
"JimboCat" <10313...@compuserve.com> enriched us with:
>
> Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
>>
>> er...@swva.net wrote:
>>>
>>> Feanor, about as mad as a hare at this point, causes the ships
>>> to be burnt.
>>
>> He does seem to be rather nutty by now, doesn't he?

Well, yes, he does.

This is, however, after the Vow and the Doom, so there would be a
kind of compulsion working (not that I think the Doom in any way
forces things -- the Vow does that, and the Kinslaying probably had
an effect as well).

>> I really think Feanor is having some sort of mental breakdown.

When he was told about the death of Finwë and the rape of the
Silmarils?

>> But he must seem OK for the Noldor (or rather Feanorians by
>> this point) to still follow him,

As far as I have been told, there is a class of psychopaths who are
extremely charismatic and persuasive, and who can persuade you that
their twisted vision is Truth.

And then I strongly suspect that the Fëanorians on average are more
affected by the lies of Melkor than even the other Noldor, making
them more vulnerable to something like Fëanor's madness which follows
the 'logic' of Melkor's lies.

>> or are the Feanorians so cowed by Feanor that they will still
>> follow a mad leader?
>
> I don't think the Elves had any experience with madness.

[...]


> Aman, after all, is not a place conducive to disease, mental
> or otherwise.

What he said . . . ;-)

> Even Melkor was trusted as being sane, open and truthful until
> he revealed himself, stole the Silmarils, and destroyed the Trees.

Ulmo didn't trust Melkor, nor did Tulkas -- and 'Mandos was silent'.

Olwë of the Teleri doesn't appear to have trusted Melkor either, 'he
had never lent ear to Morgoth, nor welcomed him to his land' and '[t]
he Vanyar indeed held him in suspicion, for they dwelt in the light
of the Trees and were content'

> Only Feanor mistrusted him: was Feanor's madness already begun at
> that point (the old "it takes one to know one" thing...)?

Only if you wish to assign being 'one' to Ulmo, Tulkas, Ingwë and
Olwë as well ;-)

I think rather that his clear opinion about Melkor is an example of
the greatness of Fëanor -- he does perceive more clearly than most
other Eldar what is in Melkor's mind, and Fëanor would most likely
understand better the pride and resentment that gnawed on Melkor than
any other observer. In that respect it probably did take one to know
one (compare Manwë's blindness), but I don't think it can be applied
to either evil or madness.

Sometimes I think that Fëanor, before the death of his father, and
definitely before the drawing of his sword against Fingolfin, is
being judged not for what he was, but for what he became.

For instance, when asked to give up the Silmarils (why couldn't
Yavanna settle for just one of them?) he doesn't just reject it, but
considers it. It seems to me possible from the narrative that it is
actually the rashness of Tulkas that makes him decide in favour of
his own desire (or possessiveness) rather than that, which he knows
is right. As I read that passage, Fëanor's decision is every bit as
'in the balance' as Gollum's near repenting at the stairs of Cirith
Ungol, and Fëanor didn't have the same history of outright evil as
did Gollum.

After that his accusation of the Valar as being partly responsible
for Finwë's death makes his fall inevitable.

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

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement.
But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another
profound truth.
- Niels Bohr

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Mar 26, 2006, 4:22:05 PM3/26/06
to
In message <news:t8xPf.32162$wl.3...@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
>
> er...@swva.net <er...@swva.net> wrote:
>>

References to versions in the History of Middle-earth series follow the
list I posted in the chapter 8 thread:
Message-ID: <Xns9781EDDE...@130.133.1.4>
<http://groups.google.com/group/alt.fan.tolkien/msg/835a03c559fe4e2f>

[...]
> I think this is a great chapter. Drama, pathos, and key
> moments of fate, and doom and stirring grandeur.

Yes, it is that.

<snip>


>> The powers of the Valar fail to revive the Trees, but Yavanna
>> thinks with a little of the light of the trees that Feanor has
>> locked in the Silmarils, she can heal the trees.

'[...] had I but a little of that light [...]'

It is surprising, perhaps, that nobody -- not even Fëanor -- ever asked
her how many Silmarils she'd need.

>> Feanor will not give his gems up willingly, and the very request >>
reminds him of suspicions sown by Melkor, that the Valar covet
>> the Silmarils for themselves.
>

> "It seemed to him that he was beset in a ring of enemies,

[...]"

No wonder, really!

Tulkas' thoughtless outbreak did, I think, clench it. Tulkas more or
less tells Fëanor that nobody would accept a no anyway, for 'who shall
deny Yavanna?' Well, 'strong' or 'brave' he might be, but nobody has
ever accused Tulkas of being bright . . . ;-)

I don't think that Fëanor was ever a saint of any kind, but neither do
I think he was, at this point, the devil he was soon to become.

> Feanor then speaks aloud, saying that he "will do do this of free
> will", and if the Valar will constrain him, then he shall know
> they are of the kindred of Melkor. Now at this point, if I was one
> of the Valar, I would be opening my mouth, ready to start arguing
> with Feanor and rebutting his unjust words.

One would have thought that it had been settled earlier when 'at last
the root was laid bare, and the malice of Melkor revealed', but
apparently they didn't get around to redress all of the lies Melkor had
spread.

Perhaps there is also in this a comment about the nature of evil? About
how the lies of evil must be easier to believe than the Truth, and how
evil must make itself appear attractive.

> I'm alternately amazed and impressed when Mandos then says merely
> "Thou hast spoken",
> though looking more closely, this seems to be a response to the
> first part of Feanor's words,

Both aye and nay (go not to the Troels . . .) ;-)

As I say below, there is to me a sense of finality in this; had Fëanor
or Mandos been a mathematician, the phrase would have been Quod Erat
Demonstrandum. Mandos is, IMO, effectively putting two lines under
Fëanor's statement, making it final and irrevocable. This finality
applies firstly and more importantly to Fëanor's statement of his
choice ('This thing I will not do of free will'), but it also applies
to the latter part of Fëanor's statement (with all the implications it
carries).

The latter part carries in part a restraint on the Valar: if they do
this, then they ackowledge that their kinship with Melkor goes further
than just to their origins. But Fëanor, at the same time, implicitly
admits that he seriously considers the possibility that the Valar are
no better than Melkor, that they would indeed compel him against his
will.

> The bit about the Valar being like Melkor if they force him to
> give up the Silmarils, seems to be ignored for the moment,
> though Manwe does seem to answer it later:

Unfortunately for the Valar the latter bit is the more important in
terms of the later motivations -- had the Valar addressed it
immediately, then perhaps Fëanor's oration upon Túna might not have
been quite as effective.

> The other impression I get from Mandos's "Thou hast spoken" is
> something like "no more needs to be said - this doom has come to
> pass."

My impression is somewhat similar. There is a finality to Mandos' words
-- an acceptance of Fëanor's choice, but also a forewarning that this
choice will be forever irrevocable. Mandos obviously knows about the
death of Finwë, and it wouldn't take much more wits than Tulkas' to
work out what that implied for the Silmarils.

> But I really do feel sorrow for Feanor here, as the words of
> Melkor come back to haunt him. He is under great stress here,
> and all the flaws in his character are coming to the fore:

Despite his having already shown himself to be arrogant, jealous,
niggardly, stubborn etc. I also sympathise with his predicament in this
situation, and I think that his hesitation and obvious agonizing over
the choice speaks to his defence.

Aulë, I think, is spot-on when he admonishes Tulkas, 'We ask a greater
thing than thou knowest.'

> his esteeming material goods and the works of his hands too highly,
> and, just when he needs to think clearly and carefully, what pops
> into his mind but those evil words from Melkor!

Yeah, who indeed shall deny Yavanna -- and hey! Didn't he just steal
the light in the first place anyway? So how can he have any right to
it?

I know that I am exaggerating Tulkas' fault here, but I do think he is
re-enforcing (if not actually giving rise to) Fëanor's feeling of being
'beset with enemies', and thus to some extent forces Fëanor's hand.

It might be interesting to investigate the question of what the result
would have been, had Fëanor been left alone -- or even, perhaps, been
given only the kinder, more understanding, guidance of Aulë. Would he
have sat still in indecision when the messengers arrived from Formenos,
or might he even have been able to choose to open perhaps one or two of
his Silmarils?

I do consider the former more likely (if Melkor's words had not popped
into his mind anyway), and one can speculate whether that would have
changed anything.

<snip>

>> Tolkien points out that Feanor mistakenly thinks that if he
>> had, anything would have happened other than that he would
>> have been killed, too, which is what Melkor hoped would happen.

[...] thinking in the madness of his rage and grief that
had he been at Formenos his strength would have availed
more than to be slain also, as Melkor had purposed

The main point about this, I think, is that at this point Fëanor is
reacting as a faithful, loving son. This is not pride or selfishness,
and that is, IMO, an important distinction being made.

> The bit I really like from this part of the chapter is:
>
> "Then Feanor ran from the Ring of Doom, and fled into the night;
[...]
> and who among sons, of Elves or of Men, have held their fathers
> of greater worth?"
>
> This is a point where I, again, feel nothing but sorrow for
> Feanor. It is only his _later_ actions that I feel may have been
> excessive, but they all flow from this point and from Melkor's
> earlier machinations.

I agree entirely.

Fëanor was not without faults prior to his father's death, but his
personal Fall stems, IMO, from the loss of confidence in the Valar that
he suffered when he came to see them as having failed in protecting his
father. And Melkor's lies had the quality of being easy to believe --
they were simple and easy explanations compared to the complexity of
their true motivations: selflessness is almost impossible to
understand: no 'qui bono' . . .

Getting serious for a moment (I promise it won't last long) one might
note that the same phenomenon can be often observed in the real world
-- people often prefer the comfortable lie to the complex reality.

> "Many there grieved for the anguish of Feanor, but his loss was
> not his alone; and Yavanna wept by the mound, in fear that the
> Darkness should swallow the last rays of the Light of Valinor for
> ever."
>
> I don't quite get this. Is this saying that others (like the rest
> of the Noldor and the Valar) mourned Finwe as much as Feanor did?
> Or is it a (very) oblique reference to Fingolfin and Finarfin,
> saying that they too have lost a father?
>
> The impression I get from the sentence construction (the use of
> the semi-colon) is that Tolkien may have been comparing the loss
> of the Trees with Feanor's loss of his father. But that seems
> silly to me.

I've noticed this confusion as well. It does seem to go from Fëanor's
grief for his father to a more generalised grief for the loss of the
Trees (and the Silmarils -- the loss of the light, perhaps) without
pause, creating this confusion in me about what loss that wasn't
Fëanor's alone.

Fëanor had lost his father -- which also Fingolfin and Finarfin had, as
you note.

Fëanor also lost the greatest work, his ultimate achievement, and that
loss was shared by Yavanna.

Everybody had lost the light and ultimately the Bliss of Valinor.

But though there is no loss that can be said to Fëanor's alone, I still
think that his total loss was greater than that of anyone else.
Fingolfin and Finarfin still had both their mother and each other,
whereas his sons are the only that Fëanor has left (Nerdanel had
already sided with Idril when Fëanor was sent into exile).

And though Yavanna also lost her once only accomplishment, she hadn't
lost someone dearer to her than that work.

I suppose that the meaning might be that Fëanor, had he paused to look
for it, could have found sympathy and understanding for all his losses.

>> Now the Silmarils are gone, and Feanor storms off to rabble-rouse
>> the Noldor into going after them.
>

> I don't think he had the intention of rabble-rousing (great
> phrase!) the Noldor at this point. He still seems to be just mad
> with rage and grief.

The advantage of making a longer post is that one can, on occasion, get
away with merely an 'I agree' ;-)

> But yes, pretty soon afterwards he does start his rabble-rousing.

I am not sure how 'soon' exactly, that is.

In AAm we have the dating, and the Valian Year 1495 starts with
Ungoliant and Melkor setting out from Avathar (or at least this is the
first event mentioned for 1495) and ends with the kinslaying (see
below). This is, however, a Valian year, and that covers almost 10
years of the Sun (our years), so there could easily be a couple of
years (of the sun) between end of the concourse about the Ring of Doom
and Fëanor suddenly appearing in Tirion.

The pace quickens in this chapter, but it is nevertheless still a
Valinorean pace, and though it is doubtlessly soon according to the
Eldar there is still time for Fëanor to sit alone in Formenos,
cultivating hurts and the slights he has suffered . . .

> I would guess that at some point he begins recalling the other
> words of Melkor, and then, after the initial grief subsided,
> though still distraught, he went to Tirion to raise the Noldor
> to follow him after Melkor.

Do you think that Fëanor ever, before his death, reached a state where
he was not still distraught? He seems to me to have a death-wish
throughout the rest of his story (which is probably, in itself, an evil
thing), and unfortunately he manages to draw his sons and his people
into his self-destruction.


>> In the meantime, Morgoth (as he is almost always called now) and
>> Ungoliant flee over the wastes of Araman to the north of Valinor,
>> escape across the Grinding Ice, and set foot in the far northwest
>> of Middle-earth. Tolkien mentions that they travel together
>> because "Morgoth could not elude" her; this implies that he is
>> already seeking to renege on whatever reward he had promised her
>> for her help.

This is also a reminiscence of the expanded story in LQ2 where Melkor
doesn't go join Ungoliant in the killing of the Two Trees, but rather
tried to get to Formenos without her, never intending her to know about
the Silmarils. In that version he was planning from the beginning to
elude her already when going to Formenos:

§58f Then he went on to his second mark, which he had
kept secret in his mind; but Ungoliantë was aware of him,
and turning swiftly she overtook him on his road. Aghast
indeed was Melkor to see her, monstrous, grown to a lust
and power that he could not master without aid. He could
not contend with her, even if time allowed; and he could
not escape. She took him into her Unlight, and they went
on together to the one place in the land of the Valar that
he would have hidden from her.

>> She is sticking close, with her cloud still around him and her
>> eyes on him.
>

> "all her eyes were upon him"
>
> I love that "all" thrown in there, to remind us that Ungoliant is
> a many-eyed spider-like monster! :-)

It's brilliant ;-)

I don't think I fully understood, until I joined here, the implications
of the explanations in this section of Morgoth squandering his innate
power (or 'energy' as I would feel more appropriate) on the creation of
Arda Marred, or 'Morgoth's Ring'.

I am thinking in particular of 'Ungoliant had grown great, and he less
by the power that had gone out of him' and 'in the domination of his
servants and the inspiring of them with lust of evil he spent his
spirit.'

>> As they approach his old fortress of Angband, she realizes he
>> hopes to cheat her and demands payment.
>

> I like the moment where she calls Morgoth: "Blackheart!" I'm sure
> there is an etymological history there that could be interesting.

Turning to Quenya:
"Black" is of course the traditional 'Mor-' or 'Mori-', but heart may
give rise to some problems. The physical heart is 'hón' (Morihón?), but
the "inner mind" was 'órë', 'indo' was "mind, mood" and 'enda' referred
to the Fëa.

There is an attested form, 'sincahonda' meaning "flinthearted" that
might suggest 'Morihon', but 'Morenda' or 'Morindo' would seem to me
more appropriate in this case. Unfortunately I don't see any of this
as helpful :/

>> He ends up giving her all the gems of the Noldor except the
>> Silmarils. She wants them, too, and entangles him in her webs.
>> He cries out
>

[quotation]
>
> Methinks that Morgoth is begining to know fear! He really thought
> that he was going to be devoured by Ungoliant.

[... the Silmarils] had begun to burn him, and his hand
was clenched in pain;
and later:
[...]; nor was he ever free from the pain of the burning,
and the anger of the pain.

Imagine that you're a divine, primeval being and then suddenly you
experience an unrelievable physical pain. That alone must have been
terrifying for Morgoth, and realising, on top of that, that the being
he had thought merely an insignificant tool had become an actual threat
to him.


>> his Balrogs, hiding nearby, hear and come to his rescue,

Arising swiftly and passing with winged speed over Hithlum ;-)

Just one note in connection with the timing here. I dare say that even
Ungoliant couldn't vanquish Morgoth in a hurry, and when one considers
the time implied in the text, one has also to recall that the tale at
this point is still told in the Valinorean pace in which the Noldor
spent about ten years getting from Alqualondë to Mandos. I don't think
that the time can be estimated with enough precision to allow
refutation of any means of transport for the Balrogs -- including tail-
hopping . . . ;-)

<snip>

>> Morgoth rebuilds Angband and raises above its gate a new
>> addition, A giant tower-mountain of slag called Thangorodrim. He
>> begins to build up his armies.

All in -- how long?

According to the Annals (AAm), the thieves' quarrel and the kinslaying
both occurred in VY 1495. The year VY 1496 heads the paragraph
'Nonetheless the greater part of the Noldor escaped' (. . . the sea
rising in wrath and wrecking many of the ships), and the 1497 heading
is found before the 'The Noldor came at last far into the north of
Arda;' paragraph.

According to this, then, the march from Alqualondë until the first ice
lasted one Valian year as these are counted in the AAm, which means
that it lasted almost ten years of the Sun! Admittedly the road from
equator (Túna being close to the girdle of Arda) and to artic ice is
quite long, and may have been longer before the rounding (when the
world was diminished), but ten years?

The reason for me to bring this up is of course that when Fëanor
reached Angband, Morgoth had finished building Thangorodrim and
apparently otherwise settling in Middle-earth. This surprised me at
first, because it seemed from the text that the Noldor weren't far
behind, but given this timing it seems a bit less impressive.

>> He puts the Silmarils in a crown which he never takes off,

[...] though its weight became a deadly weariness.

Was that the Silmarils? We already know that they could hurt him, but
is the weight of his crown also attributable to them, or is it more
likely symbolic of the weight of his self-proclaimed title as King of
the World?

>> and spends his spirit in creating followers and inspiring them
>> to evil, and only once does he ever leave his fortress again.

Never but once only did he depart for a while secretly
from his domain in the North;

When was that? Something to do with the corruption of Men? Right now I
don't recall if this is mentioned, though I suspect it might be.

seldom indeed did he leave the deep places of his
fortress, but governed his armies from his northern
throne.

I am reminded of Denethor and Sauron here:

Denethor laughed bitterly. 'Nay, not yet, Master
Peregrin! He will not come save only to triumph over me
when all is won. He uses others as his weapons. So do all
great lords, if they are wise, Master Halfling. Or why
should I sit here in my tower and think, and watch, and
wait, spending even my sons? For I can still wield a
brand.'
[LotR V,4 'The Siege of Gondor']

This is a political wisdom rather than the wisdom of the heart.
Contrast, after all, Fëanor's attack on Angband.

And once only also did he himself wield weapon, while his
realm lasted.

I do remember that one ;-)

> "...his majesty as one of the Valar long remained, though turned
> to terror, and before his face all save the mightiest sank into a
> dark pit of fear."
>
> Which would be a bit of a bummer if you didn't want them to fear
> you.

;-)

> It sounds like Morgoth could no longer assume fair form,

We heard about that already when he sought out Ungoliant, 'and he put
on again the form that he had worn as the tyrant of Utumno: a dark
Lord, tall and terrible. In that form he remained ever after.'

Recalling the words in Ósanwe-kenta about how doing evil deeds in a
form is binding to that form, I venture that it was the killing of the
Two Trees and of Finwë that bound Morgoth to his form he had worn as
the tyrant of Utumno.

> and this inspiration of terror couldn't be "turned off". I guess
> there might have been moments when Morgoth might have wanted to
> talk, laugh, joke and enjoy the world with others. Small moments
> of regret when he realised the living hell that he was enduring.

It doesn't really sound that way, IMO:

For now, more than in the days of Utumno ere his pride
was humbled, his hatred devoured him, and in the
domination of his servants and the inspiring of them with
lust of evil he spent his spirit.

It seems he was quite busy hating and inspiring 'with lust of evil' --
I don't think he could find time in his scedule for regret. Recall also
the statement earlier 'that all love had departed from him for ever'
(that which Manwë didn't perceive at Melkor's unchaining).

> Unless he enjoyed this sort of thing, of course. But it sounds
> like a living hell to me. With that heavy crown and being trapped
> in a single form.

Doubtlessly it was like a living hell -- but it only made him hate all
the more.

> I don't believe it! I'm starting to feel compassion and empathy
> for Morgoth, as well as Feanor! :-)

I can understand Fëanor, but Morgoth . . . :-)

>> He really pushes the idea that the Valar were keeping them from
>> their true destiny, as well as keeping them in Valinor to allow
>> the Aftercomers, that is, Men to take over lands that should
>> rightfully be Elvish.

We don't, I hope, have to debate whether the intentions of the Valar
were good or not in summoning the Eldar to Valinor, but to what extent
is Fëanor right in his description of the effects of the summons?

Recall that Ulmo was against the summons, and in an appendix to the
Athrabeth, 'The Converse of Manwë and Eru' (the occasion is Manwë
seeking guidance from Eru when Míriel had died):

Eru answered: Have I not given to the Valar the rule of
Arda, and power over all the substance thereof, to shape it
at their will under My will? Ye have not been backward in
these things. As for my First-born, have ye not removed
great numbers of them to Aman from the Middle-earth in
which I set them?

This suggests that the Valar were acting against Eru's design when they
summoned the Eldar to Valinor, which again suggests that they were
inded meant to rule wide lands in Middle-earth until the Age of Men (of
which nobody knew anything, of course).

I think the point I am trying to make is that these lies were all that
much easier to believe because they contained a kernel of truth.

>> Then Feanor and his sons swear their terrible oath of undying
>> enmity against any, good or evil, that keep them from the
>> Silmarils,

The case of the Fëanorian oath is actually rather interesting, IMO.

In AAm, the whole oath is given:

'Be he foe or friend, be he foul or clean,
brood of Morgoth or bright Vala,
Elda or Maia or Aftercomer,
Man yet unborn upon Middle-earth,
neither law, nor love, nor league of swords,
dread nor danger, not Doom itself,
shall defend him from Fëanor, and Fëanor's kin,
whoso hideth or hoardeth, or in hand taketh,
finding keepeth or afar casteth
a Silmaril. This swear we all:
death we will deal him ere Day's ending,
woe unto world's end! Our word hear thou,
Eru Allfather! To the everlasting
Darkness doom us if our deed faileth.
On the holy mountain hear in witness
and our vow remember, Manwë and Varda!'

The text in the published Silmarillion describing the oath, 'They swore
an oath which none shall break, [...] a Silmaril from their
possession.' is from LQ1 & QS (LQ2 breaks off at the end of the account
of Ungoliant and Melkor's quarrel).

This is a case where I agree with CT's editing -- the summary works
better for me than the specific dialogue; the implication of something
terrible is, to me, more terrible than Tolkien's idea of terrible
specifics.

If it was generally the case that Tolkien's narrative summaries worked
better than his dialogue, then it would be a problem, but that is, for
me, not the case.

I can recall other examples where Tolkien has made vague descriptions
of the very terrible work very well for me: Sauron is an obvious
example, but the Balrog also comes to mind (to what degree did pro-
wingers think a winged creature more terrible when they first read the
book, and vice-versa for anti-wingers?) I am not, however, sure if it
can be said to be a trend in his writing.

Is Tolkien better at describing the terrible by hinting and implication
rather than by the explicit?

And if so, does that tell something about him as an author? I am not
sure it would fall into the traditional admonishment to 'show, don't
tell' -- it seems to me to be neither, but rather to work by inspiring
the reader to fill out the details.

>> and this oath becomes a major mover in the saga, many
>> eventually becoming tangled in it to great sorrow.
>

> "For so sworn, good or evil, an oath may not be broken, and it
> shall pursue oathkeeper and oathbreaker to the world's end."
>
> How can it pursue oathkeeper? Is Tolkien saying that by keeping
> the oath the oathkeepers will have to do great evil, and that the
> consequences of that will pursue them?

I don't think that that is exactly the point. This comment seems to me
more general -- it is not about this particular oath only, but abou the
way it was sworn. In particular I think it is the invocation of the
name of Eru Ilúvatar. It is, as Maedhros realised in the end:

'But how shall our voices reach to Ilúvatar beyond the
Circles of the World? And by Ilúvatar we swore in our
madness, and called the Everlasting Darkness upon us,
if we kept not our word. Who shall release us?'

The oath to Eru is binding and it cannot be revoked in any way within
Arda -- therefore it doesn't matter whether you keep it or break it: it
will nevertheless pursue you; see for instance Maglor's response to
this also, where he recognises that their own doom is the same whether
they keep the oath or break it.

But the statement about 'so sworn, /good or evil/, an oath may not be
broken' specifically moves beyond the question of whether the oath
itself is good or evil. In the end I think it can be summarised as 'do
not swear in the name of God': a case of 'Thou shalt not take the name
of the LORD thy God in vain'

<snip>

The Prophecy of the North and the Doom of the Noldor:

>> Feanor basically says, maybe so, but at least cowardice won't be
>> a problem and determines to drive on,

He also adds his own doom, that 'the deeds that we shall do shall be
the matter of song until the last days of Arda.' And as it is added in
AAm, 'And the doom of Fëanor was true-spoken also.'

How mighty was that Elf, exactly? Taking up a contest of doom-speaking
with Mandos himself ;)

>> but Finarfin and a smaller party of Noldor turn back, and are
>> forgiven and welcomed.
>

> Thus answering the question that wouldn't have been answered if
> no-one had turned back. The Valar really will forgive those who
> repent.

Good point. Not that we, the readers, would doubt that (would we?), but
this will also show everybody that this is so (obviously the story got
to Middle-earth somehow; whether through Ósanwë, or later via Númenor.

> I wonder what they would have said to Feanor, had he come back
> in sorrow and contrition?

'But thou Fëanor Finwë's son, by thine oath art exiled.' ?

> Yeah, I know, it would never have happened! :-)

Not at this point, no.

<snip>

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

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.
- /Hogfather/ (Terry Pratchett)

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Apr 1, 2006, 4:22:56 PM4/1/06
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
> In message <news:t8xPf.32162$wl.3...@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>
> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:

<snip>

>> Feanor then speaks aloud, saying that he "will do do this of free
>> will", and if the Valar will constrain him, then he shall know
>> they are of the kindred of Melkor. Now at this point, if I was one
>> of the Valar, I would be opening my mouth, ready to start arguing
>> with Feanor and rebutting his unjust words.
>
> One would have thought that it had been settled earlier when 'at last
> the root was laid bare, and the malice of Melkor revealed', but
> apparently they didn't get around to redress all of the lies Melkor
> had spread.

Probably the plan on how to plan the redressing of the lies was still
held up being discussed in some committee somewhere...

<snip>

>> I'm alternately amazed and impressed when Mandos then says merely
>> "Thou hast spoken",
>> though looking more closely, this seems to be a response to the
>> first part of Feanor's words,

<snip>

> As I say below, there is to me a sense of finality in this; had Fëanor
> or Mandos been a mathematician, the phrase would have been Quod Erat
> Demonstrandum.

That is a perfect example. I agree. "Thou has spoken" is just like our
favourite doom-master's equivalent of "QED". He also says things like
"so it is doomed", as here:

"At the last, therefore, the Valar summoned the Quendi to Valinor, there
to be gathered at the knees of the Powers in the light of the Trees for
ever; and Mandos broke his silence, saying: 'So it is doomed.' From this
summons came many woes that afterwards befell." (Of the Coming of the
Elves)

And I am also reminded of the phrase used later in this chapter by the
"dark figure" standing high upon a rock, who said, at the end of his
thunderous declaration of the Prophecy of the North ("Tears
unnumbered... "):

"The Valar have spoken." (Of the Flight of the Noldor)

This, to me, has the same ring of doom (ie. judgement), and of
certainty, about it. Which lends support to the narratorial conjecture
that the herald was "Mandos himself, and no lesser herald of Manwe". The
wording is also similar to the earlier statement to Feanor "thou hast
spoken".

I have noticed two more things here:

1) The mental image of a dark figure (silhouetted?) standing high on a
rock (that looked down upon the shore) is an impressive one. Can anyone
think of similar examples in literature, history or art, where such a
scene is described? Preferably with some thunderous cursing going on!
:-)

2) The herald's "Unnumbered tears ye shall shed" might just possible be
one of those "future echoes", here possibly referring to the Battle of
Unnumbered Tears - the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. Or maybe it is the other way
around? Would the Noldor, remembering the herald's words, have named the
battle for that reason?

And talking of these "future echoes", I remember an example where the
fate of the Silmarils is mentioned early on in the book, something about
the fate of earth, sea and sky being locked in those jewels.

Ah, here we are:

"Mandos foretold that the fates of Arda, earth, sea, and air, lay locked
within them [the Silmarils]." (Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the
Noldor)

This obviously foretells the eventual fate of the Silmarils. And going
completely off on a tangent here, we can note that when Melian says that
Thingol will draw Doriath "within the fate of a mightier realm" by
wanting the Silmarils, this may be an oblique reference to the Silmarils
being "the fates of Arda". A more direct reference is here, when Morgoth
is talking to Hurin and says: "Thou hast dared to mock me, and to
question the power of Melkor, Master of the fates of Arda." - is Morgoth
saying here that he is master of the Silmarils, the "fates of Arda"?

While looking for that, I found some light relief here, in something I
wrote about how Mandos could be very, very annoying:

http://groups.google.co.uk/group/rec.arts.books.tolkien/msg/bcf31ca88d99601c

And finally, very close in the text to that prophecy from Mandos:

"But not until the End, when Feanor shall return who perished ere the
Sun was made, and sits now in the Halls of Awaiting and comes no more
among his kin; not until the Sun passes and the Moon falls, shall it be
known of what substance they were made."

This is a very direct 'this is what happens' moment. If you happen to
remember this when reading about the creation of the Sun, and how it
rose soon after the Moon, and you then remember it again when reading
the next chapter about Feanor landing in Middle-earth under the cold
stars before the rising of the Moon, well, you then realise that Feanor
is soon going to come to a sticky end!

Anyway, getting back to "Thou hast spoken" - from Mandos to Feanor:

> Mandos is, IMO, effectively putting two lines under
> Fëanor's statement, making it final and irrevocable.

<snip>

>> The bit about the Valar being like Melkor if they force him to
>> give up the Silmarils, seems to be ignored for the moment,
>> though Manwe does seem to answer it later:
>
> Unfortunately for the Valar the latter bit is the more important in
> terms of the later motivations -- had the Valar addressed it
> immediately, then perhaps Fëanor's oration upon Túna might not have
> been quite as effective.

What you say later about this all possibly taking weeks or months is
interesting. I've always seen events as happening very fast in this
chapter, with the Noldor leaving in a few days. But now I think about
it, that doesn't really make much sense.

>> The other impression I get from Mandos's "Thou hast spoken" is
>> something like "no more needs to be said - this doom has come to
>> pass."
>
> My impression is somewhat similar. There is a finality to Mandos'
> words -- an acceptance of Fëanor's choice, but also a forewarning
> that this choice will be forever irrevocable. Mandos obviously knows
> about the death of Finwë, and it wouldn't take much more wits than
> Tulkas' to work out what that implied for the Silmarils.

How does Mandos know about the death of Finwe? Do you mean the "not the
first" comment? I agree this does show that Mandos knows that Finwe is
dead, but does this mean that Mandos has some instant connection back to
his dwellings (also called Mandos)? Or maybe his secretary paged him
about it:

"New customer - first for 2000 years! Name of Finwe..."

>> But I really do feel sorrow for Feanor here, as the words of
>> Melkor come back to haunt him. He is under great stress here,
>> and all the flaws in his character are coming to the fore:
>
> Despite his having already shown himself to be arrogant, jealous,
> niggardly, stubborn etc. I also sympathise with his predicament in
> this situation, and I think that his hesitation and obvious agonizing
> over the choice speaks to his defence.

Well, maybe this "long silence" can be seen as him agonising over his
decision, but he could just be letting his anger and grief build at the
impossible situation the Valar are putting him in.

Compare the following, just after Fingolfin attempts the reconciliation
with Feanor and extends his hand to shake on it:

"Then Feanor took his hand in silence..." (Of the Darkening of Valinor)

Immediately afterwards, chaos ensues as Melkor and Ungoliant attack the
two Trees. Then we arrive at this scene, and Manwe puts Feanor on the
spot:

"There was long silence, but Feanor answered no word." (Of the Flight of
the Noldor)

There was a debate, in the thread on that chapter, about what Feanor's
silence signified, with some people saying it showed that he was only
grudgingly accepting Fingolfin's attempt at reconciliation. We could
similarly debate what Feanor's silence means here.

> Aulë, I think, is spot-on when he admonishes Tulkas, 'We ask a greater
> thing than thou knowest.'

But Aule did offer his creations up to be destroyed, but Eru accepted
them. Do you think that if Feanor had agreed to offer up the Silmarils,
that Eru might have stepped in and repaired the trees, thus saving the
Silmarils?

>> his esteeming material goods and the works of his hands too highly,
>> and, just when he needs to think clearly and carefully, what pops
>> into his mind but those evil words from Melkor!
>
> Yeah, who indeed shall deny Yavanna -- and hey! Didn't he just steal
> the light in the first place anyway? So how can he have any right to
> it?
>
> I know that I am exaggerating Tulkas' fault here, but I do think he is
> re-enforcing (if not actually giving rise to) Fëanor's feeling of
> being 'beset with enemies', and thus to some extent forces Fëanor's
> hand.

Indeed. The sentence immediately after the Tulkas-Aule exchange, and
immediately after Aule suggests that they leave Feanor in peace for a
while, starts: "But Feanor spoke then..."

So yes, he has been rushed into saying his thoughts. Bad Tulkas! :-)

> It might be interesting to investigate the question of what the result
> would have been, had Fëanor been left alone -- or even, perhaps, been
> given only the kinder, more understanding, guidance of Aulë. Would he
> have sat still in indecision when the messengers arrived from
> Formenos, or might he even have been able to choose to open perhaps
> one or two of his Silmarils?
>
> I do consider the former more likely (if Melkor's words had not popped
> into his mind anyway), and one can speculate whether that would have
> changed anything.

Well, yes, I agree too. I don't think much would have changed. But the
due process was missing, and that makes it harder to find out what went
wrong (=assign blame!).

[I'm going to have to snip a lot more from here on to the end of your
post - even though I greatly enjoyed reading it - just too much to
answer in one go!]

<snip>

> Fëanor was not without faults prior to his father's death, but his
> personal Fall stems, IMO, from the loss of confidence in the Valar
> that he suffered when he came to see them as having failed in
> protecting his father. And Melkor's lies had the quality of being
> easy to believe -- they were simple and easy explanations compared to
> the complexity of their true motivations: selflessness is almost
> impossible to understand: no 'qui bono' . . .
>
> Getting serious for a moment (I promise it won't last long) one might
> note that the same phenomenon can be often observed in the real world
> -- people often prefer the comfortable lie to the complex reality.

But I had to leave this bit in! Couldn't agree more with what you say
about Feanor here, and the gamut of emotions he was experiencing.

>> "Many there grieved for the anguish of Feanor, but his loss was
>> not his alone; and Yavanna wept by the mound, in fear that the
>> Darkness should swallow the last rays of the Light of Valinor for
>> ever."

[confusion about the loss that wasn't Feanor's alone]

<snip>

> I suppose that the meaning might be that Fëanor, had he paused to look
> for it, could have found sympathy and understanding for all his
> losses.

That sounds like a reasonable interpretation. It is at moments like this
that I am also reminded of the fact that Tolkien lost his father before
he really knew him, and lost his mother at a young age. Not sure if it
means anything or not. On balance, I'd probably say not. These are
staple elements of human tragedy after all, and the fact that Tolkien
suffered some of them probably shouldn't be taken to mean anything much.

<snip stuff about Valinorean time - thanks!>

>> I would guess that at some point he begins recalling the other
>> words of Melkor, and then, after the initial grief subsided,
>> though still distraught, he went to Tirion to raise the Noldor
>> to follow him after Melkor.
>
> Do you think that Fëanor ever, before his death, reached a state where
> he was not still distraught? He seems to me to have a death-wish
> throughout the rest of his story (which is probably, in itself, an
> evil thing), and unfortunately he manages to draw his sons and his
> people into his self-destruction.

You think a fey mood was on him? Surely not for months and months? I'd
say immediately after the events in Valmar, and also maybe when giving
his speech and at Alqualonde, and when ordering the ships to be burnt,
and in his final hours, but not all the time. I think his moods came and
went, but he could be roused easily to such a state. Unstable,
unbalanced, yes. Fully mad, no.

<snip>

>> I like the moment where she calls Morgoth: "Blackheart!" I'm sure
>> there is an etymological history there that could be interesting.

<snip Quenya>

Oops! I meant the English etymology of 'blackheart'! :-)

<snip>

>> er...@swva.net <er...@swva.net> wrote:
>>> He puts the Silmarils in a crown which he never takes off,
>
> [...] though its weight became a deadly weariness.
>
> Was that the Silmarils?

I think so.

<snip>

> Never but once only did he depart for a while secretly
> from his domain in the North;
>
> When was that? Something to do with the corruption of Men? Right now I
> don't recall if this is mentioned, though I suspect it might be.

Yes. This is mentioned in a later chapter:

"...it was said afterwards among the Eldar that when Men awoke in
Hildorien at the rising of the Sun the spies of Morgoth were watchful,
and tidings were soon brought to him; and this seemed to him so great a
matter that secretly under shadow he himself departed from Angband, and
went forth into Middle-earth, leaving to Sauron the command of the War."
(Of the Coming of Men into the West)

> seldom indeed did he leave the deep places of his
> fortress, but governed his armies from his northern
> throne.
>
> I am reminded of Denethor and Sauron here:

<snip quote>

Interesting!

> And once only also did he himself wield weapon, while his
> realm lasted.
>
> I do remember that one ;-)

:-)

"Therefore Morgoth came, climbing slowly from his subterranean throne,
and the rumour of his feet was like thunder underground."

<snip>

>> and this inspiration of terror couldn't be "turned off". I guess
>> there might have been moments when Morgoth might have wanted to
>> talk, laugh, joke and enjoy the world with others. Small moments
>> of regret when he realised the living hell that he was enduring.
>
> It doesn't really sound that way, IMO:

<snip quotes>

Oh, well. It looks like he really was evil! Especially given the "all
love had departed from him forever". But is this irreversible though?
Does a being chose not to love, or can events conspire to turn a being
into a souless and cold-hearted automaton?

<snip>

>> er...@swva.net <er...@swva.net> wrote:
>>> Then Feanor and his sons swear their terrible oath of undying
>>> enmity against any, good or evil, that keep them from the
>>> Silmarils,
>
> The case of the Fëanorian oath is actually rather interesting, IMO.

Thanks for quoting the AAm version, as I really do like the poetry here.
There are definite half lines and alliteration here, and I am also
reminded of the Lays of Beleriand.

<snip>

Thanks. That does clear up some confusion for me.

<snip>

[The Prophecy of the North and the Doom of the Noldor]

>> er...@swva.net <er...@swva.net> wrote:
>>> Feanor basically says, maybe so, but at least cowardice won't be
>>> a problem and determines to drive on,
>
> He also adds his own doom, that 'the deeds that we shall do shall be
> the matter of song until the last days of Arda.' And as it is added in
> AAm, 'And the doom of Fëanor was true-spoken also.'

I much prefer the way this is confirmed in the next chapter, with Manwe
hearing a voice far off and sorrowfully acknowledging that Feanor has
spoken the truth here.

> How mighty was that Elf, exactly? Taking up a contest of doom-speaking
> with Mandos himself ;)
>
>>> but Finarfin and a smaller party of Noldor turn back, and are
>>> forgiven and welcomed.
>>
>> Thus answering the question that wouldn't have been answered if
>> no-one had turned back. The Valar really will forgive those who
>> repent.
>
> Good point. Not that we, the readers, would doubt that (would we?),
> but this will also show everybody that this is so (obviously the
> story got to Middle-earth somehow; whether through Ósanwë, or later
> via Númenor.

<snip>

Don't forget that Earendil sails there and a whole army comes back.
Though whether they spend time telling stories or not is another matter.

Incidentially, I spotted (in this chapter) something that seems to be
evidence related to the uncertainty over whether the Valar themselves
were there when Thangorodrim was broken at the end of the First Age, and
it is another of those prophecies. This one is from Feanor, and it is in
answer to the first of the heralds from the Valar to the Noldor:

"Say this to Manwe Sulimo, High King of Arda: if Feanor cannot overthrow
Morgoth, at least he delays not to assail him, and sits not idle in
grief. And it may be that Eru has set in me a fire greater than thou
knowest. Such hurt at the least will I do to the Foe of the Valar that
even the mighty in the Ring of Doom shall wonder to hear it. Yea, in the
end they shall follow me. Farewell!" (Of the Flight of the Noldor)

Now what I wonder here, is what "Yea, in the end they shall follow me"
means? Is Feanor saying that in the end even the Valar shall follow him
to do battle in Middle-earth?

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Apr 18, 2006, 4:58:43 PM4/18/06
to
In message <news:QaCXf.46284$wl....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>

"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
>
> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
>>

<snip>


> 2) The herald's "Unnumbered tears ye shall shed" might just
> possible be one of those "future echoes", here possibly referring
> to the Battle of Unnumbered Tears - the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. Or
> maybe it is the other way around? Would the Noldor, remembering
> the herald's words, have named the battle for that reason?

That's (one of) the problem(s) with prophecies -- they confuse the
normal sequence of causality ;)

First off, I have to say that I think the whole set-up would be less
potent if the battle was simply named from this passage in the
Prophecy of the North -- it would, to my mind and eyes, detract from
the nature of the story at this place.

But the Noldor did recall their Doom later as the events unfolded:

Much it foretold in dark words, which the Noldor
understood not until the woes indeed after befell them;

I guess I simply feel that it wouldn't qualify as proper foretelling
if the later events were named after this.

But I wondered as I read the Prophecy and Doom what specific events
it foretold? The general woes of the Noldor is of course a part of
it, but can we identify any specific events (apart from the Nirnaeth
Arnoediad, as you mention)?

[...]


> the fate of the Silmarils is mentioned early on in the book,
> something about the fate of earth, sea and sky being locked in
> those jewels.

[...]


> This obviously foretells the eventual fate of the Silmarils.

Indeed.

I have always wondered about the use of the number three in this
particular context, as tradition would dictate using the number four
in connection with the ancient elements -- we are 'cheated' of fire
;)

But the phrasing is also curious to me. To say 'that the fates of
Arda, [...], lay locked within them.' This sounds, to me, as if
Mandos is foretelling not only the fate of the Silmarils, but also of
Arda, but it could, I think, be interpreted otherwise. Assuming,
however, that the intention is indeed to make a connection between
the (fate of?) the silmarils and the fates fo Arda, how could that
connection be understood?

> And going completely off on a tangent here, we can note that when
> Melian says that Thingol will draw Doriath "within the fate of a
> mightier realm" by wanting the Silmarils, this may be an oblique
> reference to the Silmarils being "the fates of Arda".

Well, now that you mention it, the 'mightier realm' part does imply
something more specific than 'mightier fate' (the Doom of the Noldor
and the Fëanorian oath), as I believe I have hitherto read it. I have
always thought that Melian warned Thingol that he would be drawn into
the fate attached to the Oath and the Doom without thinking any
further about it, and I still think that that is her 'general'
intention, though you could be right that she's doing it this way
round.

> A more direct reference is here, when Morgoth is talking to
> Hurin and says: "Thou hast dared to mock me, and to question
> the power of Melkor, Master of the fates of Arda." - is Morgoth
> saying here that he is master of the Silmarils, the "fates of
> Arda"?

I don't really think so -- actually I would think it is the other way
around, if anything. Morgoth would still believe himself to actually
/be/ the true Master of Arda, and of the nihilistic fate he intended
for Arda. I don't think the Silmarils entered very much into this:
see e.g. his statements to Ungoliant, 'Dost thou desire all the world
for thy belly? I did not vow to give thee that. I am its Lord.' I
think he might as well have said 'Master of Arda' or 'Master of the
fates of all in Arda' -- this is, IMO, about his imagined lordship.

<snip>


>> Mandos obviously knows about the death of Finwë, and it wouldn't
>> take much more wits than Tulkas' to work out what that implied
>> for the Silmarils.
>
> How does Mandos know about the death of Finwe? Do you mean the
> "not the first" comment?

Indeed.

In MR we learn that Fëanor first said, 'I shall die: first', but
after Tolkien had introduced Míriel and her death, this was changed
to 'I shall be slain: first of all the Children of Eru' and the
comment after Mandos' 'Not the first' reads (in ) 'they did not
understand his words, thinking that he spoke of Míriel'. Christopher
T discusses this change, and he is convinced that the change is due
to the introduction of Míriel's death (and JRRT 'wishing to retain
the pregnant words of Mandos').

> I agree this does show that Mandos knows that Finwe is dead, but
> does this mean that Mandos has some instant connection back to
> his dwellings (also called Mandos)? Or maybe his secretary paged
> him about it:

Well, if we're allowed to suggest that someone stayed behind, there
is always the ósanwe-pager to rely on ;)

> "New customer - first for 2000 years! Name of Finwe..."

Nah, it was 'only' 325 years (of the Trees, of course) since Míriel
had stopped by, and supposedly there had been some additional
trafficking in Moriquendi fëar ;)


<snip>

>> Do you think that Fëanor ever, before his death, reached a state
>> where he was not still distraught? He seems to me to have a
>> death-wish throughout the rest of his story (which is probably,
>> in itself, an evil thing), and unfortunately he manages to draw
>> his sons and his people into his self-destruction.
>
> You think a fey mood was on him? Surely not for months and months?

Yes! Even for about two years (of the Trees)!

It would have oscillated, surely, being more and less prominent
according to circumstances, but I don't think he was ever again
entirely free of this fey mood (or, perhaps rather, not the fey mood
as such, but the underlying self-destructive psychosis, as we would
say today): this desire for vengeance with a strong suicidal streak.

Much of the time it might not have been obvious, but I don't think he
was ever again 'mentally healthy' (or 'sane', if you will). I don't
mean to imply that he was incapable of rational thought, but his
rationality (such as e.g. quickly recognising the need for ships) was
used in pursuit of goals that cannot be described themselves as
rationally sane.

We can, of course, debate whether Fëanor was ever fully sane, but I
don't doubt that he, upon learning of his father's death, took a turn
for the worse, permanently.

> I'd say immediately after the events in Valmar, and also maybe
> when giving his speech and at Alqualonde, and when ordering the
> ships to be burnt, and in his final hours, but not all the time.

These are, IMO, just the cases where his madness became obvious. That
doesn't make him any less mad in between -- in many ways I think that
Fëanor's behaviour after he recovered from the immediate shock of
hearing about Finwë's death can be described as psychopathic[*].
Despite Mandos' words I don't think that Fëanor was really Evil in
the sense of being deliberately immoral, but I rather think he became
completely amoral: there was no room for right or wrong in is world-
view, only for Fëanor (meaning, I don't think he could conceive of
the Kinslaying or the Burning of the Ships as actually wrong -- these
acts obviously benefitted Fëanor and were therefore to the best . . .
[to his mind]).

[*] I do not mean to actually say that Fëanor was a psychopath --
I am not an expert on psychology, but some of the symptoms/
traits that I been told are typical of psychopaths would also
apply to Fëanor. In particular his high charisma and persuasive
powers and his alternative, self-centered, relationship with
reality.

> I think his moods came and went, but he could be roused easily to
> such a state. Unstable, unbalanced, yes. Fully mad, no.

Depending on what you mean by 'fully mad', I think one can just as
easily argue that he was never fully mad (frothing, raving, wild
eyes), or that he was continually fully mad (completely incapable of
empathy and moral reasoning).

>> In message <news:t8xPf.32162$wl.3...@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>
>> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us
>> with:
>>>

>>> I like the moment where she calls Morgoth: "Blackheart!" I'm
>>> sure there is an etymological history there that could be
>>> interesting.
>
> <snip Quenya>
>
> Oops! I meant the English etymology of 'blackheart'! :-)

Ooops ;)

I tried to Google 'blackheart', but I don't suppose that either a
Marvel Comics villain[1], a procession, a music studio, 'A heart-
shaped cherry with a very dark-colored skin.'[2], a potato disease
(yes, it's for real[3] <G>) or even the Blackheart Beagle[4] (married
to the Beagle Boys' Grandma Beagle) inspired Tolkien ;)

I can't find anything on the one-word 'blackheart' in the
mythological references I know, but sacred-texts returns a few hits
on the two-word spelling:
<google.com/search?as_q="black+heart"&as_sitesearch=sacred-texts.com>

I don't, however, think that any of this would really qualify as an
inspiration for Tolkien's usage.

<snip>

>> (obviously the story got to Middle-earth somehow; whether through
>> Ósanwë, or later via Númenor.
>
> <snip>
>
> Don't forget that Earendil sails there and a whole army comes
> back. Though whether they spend time telling stories or not is
> another matter.

I was thinking mostly of this:

Of the march of the host of the Valar to the north of
Middle-earth little is said in any tale; for among them
went none of those Elves who had dwelt and suffered in the
Hither Lands, and who made the histories of those days that
still are known; and tidings of these things they only
learned long afterwards from their kinsfolk in Aman.
[Silm QS,24 'Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath']

but a little later in that chapter we hear that

Then Eönwë as herald of the Elder King summoned the
Elves of Beleriand to depart from Middle-earth.

There must have been some contact between the exiles and Sindar on
one side and the Valinorean forces on the other -- at least /after/
the War of Wrath was over.

Still -- it would seem that there was a more or less steady contact
from this point and well into the Second Age between Tol Eressëa and
Numenor, and even after the world was changed there came at least one
messenger from Valinor who remembered his time there (I'm thinking of
Glorfindel).

<snip>

[Fëanor's 'doom']


> "Say this to Manwe Sulimo, High King of Arda:

[...]


> Yea, in the end they shall follow me. Farewell!"
> (Of the Flight of the Noldor)
>
> Now what I wonder here, is what "Yea, in the end they shall follow
> me" means? Is Feanor saying that in the end even the Valar shall
> follow him to do battle in Middle-earth?

I don't think that it would necessarily mean that they would follow
him to Middle-earth in person. As the rulers of Valinor, I would
accept it as sufficient for them to send their armies to Middle-earth
while staying in Valinor themselves -- kind of like when we say that
this or that king built that castle or whatever (I am completely sure
that the king wasn't out getting his own hands dirty). That which is
done in the name of the ruler and at his command is often attributed
to him personally, and I would be satisfied with such an
interpretation here.


[1] <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackheart>
[2] <http://machaut.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/WEBSTER.sh?WORD=blackheart>
[3] <http://www.panhandle.unl.edu/potato/html/blackheart.htm>
[4] <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackheart_Beagle>

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

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded
gold, it would be a merrier world.
- Thorin Oakenshield, /The Hobbit/ (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Raven

unread,
Apr 19, 2006, 5:51:57 PM4/19/06
to
"Troels Forchhammer" <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> skrev i en meddelelse
news:Xns97A9E9C0...@130.133.1.4...

[Fëanor's fey mood]

> Much of the time it might not have been obvious, but I don't think he
> was ever again 'mentally healthy' (or 'sane', if you will). I don't
> mean to imply that he was incapable of rational thought, but his
> rationality (such as e.g. quickly recognising the need for ships) was
> used in pursuit of goals that cannot be described themselves as
> rationally sane.

> We can, of course, debate whether Fëanor was ever fully sane, but I
> don't doubt that he, upon learning of his father's death, took a turn
> for the worse, permanently.

We may want to distinguish between cunning and wisdom. Like the Aum
Shinrikyo cultists who quite skilfully produced nerve gas for the purpose of
obtaining world rule, Fëanor was cunning and skilful - but not very wise,
especially in his latter days. His passion was overwhelmingly great. There
is no harm in being passionate, but Fëanor's passion was greater than his
intellectual self-discipline. Hence his fall, and it may be said of others,
in the books and out of them.

> Despite Mandos' words I don't think that Fëanor was really Evil in
> the sense of being deliberately immoral, but I rather think he became
> completely amoral: there was no room for right or wrong in is world-
> view, only for Fëanor (meaning, I don't think he could conceive of
> the Kinslaying or the Burning of the Ships as actually wrong -- these
> acts obviously benefitted Fëanor and were therefore to the best . . .
> [to his mind]).

Few of the evil characters in Tolkien's works seem deliberately immoral
to me. Neither Morgoth nor Sauron woke up each morning cackling: "Am I
gonna be mean toDAY!" Morgoth was convinced that he *was* rightful lord of
all Creation. Like so many dictators in real life, he saw all opposition as
evil enemies and rebels who ought and deserved to be put down. Look at the
impenitent Saddam today. It was the same with Sauron: when he served
Morgoth he was probably convinced that his master *was* rightful lord, and
that he himself *deserved* his high rank, and all who opposed him and his
master *were* fiends without worth in themselves. Later, when he served
only himself, he was convinced that the world *should* obey him.
When Morgoth is given screen time, we don't see him telling eg. Húrin:
"You and your foolish notions of good and evil! Do you not understand that
I am strong enough to overcome you all and destroy you or bend you to my
will? Being Lord and Master of all that my lesser brethren have made and of
all you lesser beings: it is what I want and it is what I am able to become.
If you had wits beyond the cunning from which sprang your mockery of me, you
would comprehend this, and serve me willingly!" Instead he poses as "the
Elder King of Arda", the pompous twit.
Similarly, one of (probably) the Moria-orcs in Uglúk's following does not
refer to the Rohirrim as "dangerous prey" but as "foul rebels and brigands".
Possibly Shagrat and Gorbag qualify as deliberately immoral, when they
wish to go to some place with a few trusty lads, no big bosses, and lots of
loot handy. And possibly the Mouth of Sauron does, when he plainly wishes
to become tyrant of all lands between the Anduin and the Misty Mountains.
Fëanor was in my opinion less evil than Morgoth in three things:
He did not desire mastery of the whole world, only the part of it that he
had made with his own skill - at whatever cost to himself and anyone else.
This included usurping Yavanna's part in the Silmarils, since their light
was of her making, not his. It also included stealing and later destroying
the ships of the Teleri, as dear to them as the Silmarils to himself. He
probably did desire lordship over lands that he would find in Middle-earth,
a realm of his own in which he would own no master, if necessary by booting
out any Second-born who might have come first. But I do not see him
desiring the entirety of Endor. I see him desiring things of his own, made
or eked out by his skill and strength. I do not see him as envious of
everything owned by others. Even when he stole from others, it was for the
purpose of recovering his own.
He loved other people than himself, at least his father and his sons. In
his great and selfish passion he became pitiless, or such pity as he had was
drowned in his fey anger. Morgoth was pitiless because he loved nothing and
nobody beside himself. He had no pity in him to be overcome by other
emotions.
Fëanor did not stoop to being delighted in the torment of others. He
fought to overcome the Teleri who withstood him when he would rape their
ships, but he did not bring prisoners with him to be tormented, like Morgoth
so often did.

Karasu.


Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Apr 21, 2006, 9:14:59 AM4/21/06
to
In message <news:dky1g.137$524...@news.get2net.dk> "Raven"
<jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> enriched us with:
>
> "Troels Forchhammer" <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> skrev i en
> meddelelse news:Xns97A9E9C0...@130.133.1.4...
>>
>
> [Fëanor's fey mood]
>
>> Much of the time it might not have been obvious, but I don't
>> think he was ever again 'mentally healthy' (or 'sane', if you
>> will). I don't mean to imply that he was incapable of rational
>> thought, but his rationality (such as e.g. quickly recognising
>> the need for ships) was used in pursuit of goals that cannot be
>> described themselves as rationally sane.
>
>> We can, of course, debate whether Fëanor was ever fully sane, but
>> I don't doubt that he, upon learning of his father's death, took
>> a turn for the worse, permanently.
>
> We may want to distinguish between cunning and wisdom.

Yes -- or wisdom and intelligence, if you will.

> Like the Aum Shinrikyo cultists who quite skilfully produced nerve
> gas for the purpose of obtaining world rule, Fëanor was cunning
> and skilful - but not very wise, especially in his latter days.

That's a good comparison, I think.

<snip>

>> Despite Mandos' words I don't think that Fëanor was really Evil
>> in the sense of being deliberately immoral,

[...]


>
> Few of the evil characters in Tolkien's works seem deliberately
> immoral to me. Neither Morgoth nor Sauron woke up each morning
> cackling: "Am I gonna be mean toDAY!"

I didn't put that very well, I think.

Fëanor, in the last part of his life, strikes me as one for whom
'good' and 'evil' has lost their meaning -- he didn't, I think, think
of the e.g. the Kinslaying as either good or evil, merely as
necessary.

Morgoth and Sauron, on the other hand, did, I believe, retain an
understanding of good and evil, at least in the sense of being in
accordance to, or against, the Will of Eru. In that sense they would
recognise their actions as 'evil', even if they thought themselves
and their actions justified in their defiance of Eru. It is a
difference between knowing the difference between right and wrong,
but believing oneself justified whatever one does, and then not being
able to recognise the difference at all.

> Morgoth was convinced that he *was* rightful lord of all Creation.

Possibly -- depending on what you mean by 'rightful'. I think he knew
that it was in defiance of Ilúvatar, but he chose not to care: he
though it was his by the right of the strongest.

> Like so many dictators in real life, he saw all opposition as evil
> enemies and rebels who ought and deserved to be put down.

I don't think we can compare Morgoth to human evil-doers of any kind.
His Fall was primeval, and his goals were corruption and ultimately
destruction: Morgoth, if any, was really deliberately Evil.

Sauron's evil was closer to that of the Children, I think. As many
humans, he started out with good intentions, both before his
corruption by Melkor, and just after the War of Wrath. But he, too,
IMO, did know that his actions were Evil. He probably didn't intend
evil, but I think he knew and recognised that that was the eventual
outcome.

<snip>

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

Science without religion is lame. Religion without science
is blind.
- Albert Einstein

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Apr 30, 2006, 7:46:24 AM4/30/06
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
>> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

<snip>

> But I wondered as I read the Prophecy and Doom what specific events


> it foretold? The general woes of the Noldor is of course a part of
> it, but can we identify any specific events (apart from the Nirnaeth
> Arnoediad, as you mention)?

An interesting question.

The wording of the prophecy is rather vague, but some possibly
recognisable events I found were:

1) "Tears unnumbered ye shall shed"

- Oblique reference to Nirnaeth Arnoediad, as well as general sorrow?

2) "the Valar will fence Valinor against you"

- Clear reference to fencing of Valinor and raising of the Pelori.

3) "their oath shall drive them"

- Several later references talk about the Sons of Feanor being "driven"
by their oath, often in weariness and despair. It obviously preyed on
their minds.

4) "to evil end shall all things turn that they begin well"

- There are many examples of this. I can think of the Union of Maedhros
that was eventually betrayed by the treachery of Uldor. I am sure there
are other examples as well.

5) "by treason of kin unto kin and the fear of treason"

- This is a common theme, not restricted only to the House of Feanor,
but as a wider theme among the Noldor. I remember one of the sons of
Feanor accusing one of the sons of Finarfin of telling tales to Thingol.
And the Elves of Nargothrond becoming secretive and withdrawn, not
trusting others, but rather trusting to their defences. Similarly with
Turgon and the Elves of Gondolin, ultimately betrayed by close kin.

6) "The Dispossessed shall they be for ever"

- There is definitely a later comment, when Maedhros gives up the
kingship of the Noldor, that the House becomes known as the
Dispossessed, I suppose that is a better example of the Noldor coming to
understand the meaning of this part of the prophecy.

7) "Those that endure in Middle-earth and come not to Mandos shall grow
weary of the world as with a great burden, and shall wane, and become as
shadows of regret before the younger race that cometh after."

- I wonder if this is different from the waning of the Moriquendi, or
the waning that Galadriel describes to the Fellowship in Lothlorien? It
seems certain that her longing for Valinor and her regret is of the sort
prophecied here.

> [...]
>> the fate of the Silmarils is mentioned early on in the book,
>> something about the fate of earth, sea and sky being locked in
>> those jewels.
> [...]
>> This obviously foretells the eventual fate of the Silmarils.
>
> Indeed.
>
> I have always wondered about the use of the number three in this
> particular context, as tradition would dictate using the number four
> in connection with the ancient elements -- we are 'cheated' of fire
> ;)

Actually, the "earth" Silmaril ended up in a firey chasm, so I'd say
that was "fire". As for the 3 vs 4 numbering, I think that 3 motifs are
as common, if not more so, than 4 motifs, in mythologies. Elsewhere,
Tolkien uses motifs involving the number 3, and more so than the number
4.

> But the phrasing is also curious to me. To say 'that the fates of
> Arda, [...], lay locked within them.' This sounds, to me, as if
> Mandos is foretelling not only the fate of the Silmarils, but also of
> Arda, but it could, I think, be interpreted otherwise. Assuming,
> however, that the intention is indeed to make a connection between

> the (fate of?) the silmarils and the fates of Arda, how could that
> connection be understood?

I recently read the bit in (I think) HoME X (Morgoth's Ring) about the
Dagor Dagorath, the Last Battle, and this explains things pretty
clearly, with a bit about how the three Silmarils will be recovered from
earth, sea and sky. So that clearly ties in to the ultimate fate of
Arda, when effectively Arda is destroyed and made anew. Part of the
renewing seems to be linked to the Silmarils being broken and the light
released to renew the Two Trees.

>> And going completely off on a tangent here, we can note that when
>> Melian says that Thingol will draw Doriath "within the fate of a
>> mightier realm" by wanting the Silmarils, this may be an oblique
>> reference to the Silmarils being "the fates of Arda".
>
> Well, now that you mention it, the 'mightier realm' part does imply
> something more specific than 'mightier fate' (the Doom of the Noldor
> and the Fëanorian oath), as I believe I have hitherto read it. I have
> always thought that Melian warned Thingol that he would be drawn into
> the fate attached to the Oath and the Doom without thinking any
> further about it, and I still think that that is her 'general'
> intention, though you could be right that she's doing it this way
> round.

Maybe some more quotes would make this clearer:

[After Thingol asks Beren to bring him a Silmaril for the hand of
Luthien]

"Then you shall have my jewel; and though the fate of Arda lie within
the Silmarils, yet you shall hold me generous." (Of Beren and Luthien)

Thingol's "jewel" is Luthien, and like Feanor and Aule, he prizes his
"creation" above all else, except it seems, a Silmaril... Still, we seem
to have the sins of possessiveness and pride here, just as for Feanor.
And again, we have a reference to the Silmarils being the keys to the
fate of Arda.

The next passage says:

"Thus he wrought the doom of Doriath, and was ensnared within the curse
of Mandos." (Of Beren and Luthien)

This is a common theme, whereby claiming or desiring a cursed object,
brings the curse upon yourself, and in this case, Thingol's whole
kingdom. This might be the "mightier fate" and "Doom of the Noldor" bit
you were talking about.

This may all explain the later comment from Melian:

"And now is Doriath drawn within the fate of a mightier realm." (Of
Beren and Luthien)

I can't see "mightier realm" here referring to the curse of Mandos, or
indeed anything other than the realm whose fate is explicitly mentioned
earlier, ie. Arda: "though the fate of Arda lie within the Silmarils".

>> A more direct reference is here, when Morgoth is talking to
>> Hurin and says: "Thou hast dared to mock me, and to question
>> the power of Melkor, Master of the fates of Arda." - is Morgoth
>> saying here that he is master of the Silmarils, the "fates of
>> Arda"?
>
> I don't really think so -- actually I would think it is the other way
> around, if anything. Morgoth would still believe himself to actually
> /be/ the true Master of Arda, and of the nihilistic fate he intended
> for Arda. I don't think the Silmarils entered very much into this:
> see e.g. his statements to Ungoliant, 'Dost thou desire all the world
> for thy belly? I did not vow to give thee that. I am its Lord.' I
> think he might as well have said 'Master of Arda' or 'Master of the
> fates of all in Arda' -- this is, IMO, about his imagined lordship.

Sure. But it _could_ be a literal meaning as well. I don't think we can
say for sure either way, but at least the phrase "fates of Arda" has
been used before, and I prefer this interpretation:

"Mandos foretold that the fates of Arda, earth, sea, and air, lay locked

within them." (Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor)

And Melian has used this phrase before when talking to Thingol:

"This is a great matter [...] greater indeed than the Noldor themselves
understand; for the Light of Aman and the fate of Arda lie locked now in
these things, the work of Feanor, who is gone. They shall not be
recovered, I foretell, by any power of the Eldar; and the world shall be
broken in battles that are to come, ere they are wrested from Morgoth."
(Of the Noldor in Beleriand)

<snip>

>> I think his moods came and went, but he could be roused easily to
>> such a state. Unstable, unbalanced, yes. Fully mad, no.
>
> Depending on what you mean by 'fully mad', I think one can just as
> easily argue that he was never fully mad (frothing, raving, wild
> eyes), or that he was continually fully mad (completely incapable of
> empathy and moral reasoning).

I like the comments you made here, and the comments from Raven.
Especially the distinction between frothing madness and lack of empathy
and moral reasoning. Everything being done for the benefit of Feanor. An
innate selfishness, rather than a conscious choice to be selfish, maybe?

>>> In message <news:t8xPf.32162$wl.3...@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>
>>> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us
>>> with:
>>>>
>>>> I like the moment where she calls Morgoth: "Blackheart!" I'm
>>>> sure there is an etymological history there that could be
>>>> interesting.
>>
>> <snip Quenya>
>>
>> Oops! I meant the English etymology of 'blackheart'! :-)
>
> Ooops ;)

<snip>

I guess it is just a commonly used metaphorical phrase. With Black=Evil.
The related word, that I was probably thinking of, is blackguard:

http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-bla3.htm

Though, more promising for Tolkien links, is the novel 'Black Heart and
White Heart' by H. Rider Haggard (an author that I believe Tolkien
read):

http://www.online-literature.com/h-rider-haggard/black-heart-and-white-heart/

Though I think the meaning of black and white is more racial (the story
is set in colonial Africa) than metaphorical, though it might be both
(haven't read the book).

<snip>

> [Fëanor's 'doom']
>> "Say this to Manwe Sulimo, High King of Arda:
> [...]
>> Yea, in the end they shall follow me. Farewell!"
>> (Of the Flight of the Noldor)
>>
>> Now what I wonder here, is what "Yea, in the end they shall follow
>> me" means? Is Feanor saying that in the end even the Valar shall
>> follow him to do battle in Middle-earth?
>
> I don't think that it would necessarily mean that they would follow
> him to Middle-earth in person.

Agreed. But he is saying that they shall eventually follow his lead.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
May 2, 2006, 4:22:46 PM5/2/06
to
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
>> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
>>> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
>
> <snip>
>
>> But I wondered as I read the Prophecy and Doom what specific events
>> it foretold? The general woes of the Noldor is of course a part of
>> it, but can we identify any specific events (apart from the Nirnaeth
>> Arnoediad, as you mention)?
>
> An interesting question.
>
> The wording of the prophecy is rather vague, but some possibly
> recognisable events I found were:

<snip>

> 5) "by treason of kin unto kin and the fear of treason"
>
> - This is a common theme, not restricted only to the House of Feanor,
> but as a wider theme among the Noldor. I remember one of the sons of
> Feanor accusing one of the sons of Finarfin of telling tales to
> Thingol. And the Elves of Nargothrond becoming secretive and
> withdrawn, not trusting others, but rather trusting to their
> defences. Similarly with Turgon and the Elves of Gondolin, ultimately
> betrayed by close kin.

I've found a later quote making a specific link between the Doom of the
Noldor and the fate that befell Gondolin, the bit where another Vala is
talking to Turgon, and also engaging in a bit of prophecying:

"And Ulmo warned Turgon that he also lay under the Doom of Mandos, which
Ulmo had no power to remove. 'Thus it may come to pass,' he said, 'that
the curse of the Noldor shall find thee too ere the end, and treason
awake within thy walls. Then they shall be in peril of fire. But if this
peril draweth nigh indeed, then even from Nevrast one shall come to warn
thee, and from him beyond ruin and fire hope shall be born for Elves and
Men.'" (Of the Noldor in Beleriand)

I also found the bit where Angrod and Aegnor, having previously been
(falsely) accused of telling tales to Thingol, later end up telling
those tales anyway - a classic example of division and strife among the
Noldor:

"...in Angrod's heart the memory of the words of Caranthir welled up
again in bitterness [...] '...we are named tale-bearers to you and
treasonable to the Noldor: untruly as you know, for we have of our
loyalty been silent before you, and thus earned your anger. But now
these charges are no longer to be borne, and the truth you shall know
[ ... Angrod tells all, and Thingol responds angrily ... ] Then the sons
of Finarfin departed from Menegroth with heavy hearts, perceiving how
the words of Mandos would ever be made true, and that none of the Noldor
that followed after Feanor could escape from the shadow that lay upon
his house." (Of the Noldor in Beleriand)

nand...@transact.bm

unread,
May 2, 2006, 9:23:15 PM5/2/06
to
The fate of Gondolin make a specific appearance in the much earlier
versions of the Doom of Mandos - I assume it must be in BoLT 1 or 2.

In that, there is a reference to the withering or fading of "the Flower
of the Valley", which none of the Noldor (Gnomes at that time)
understood. Later Turgon uttered the same words from the Tower of the
King in Gondolin during the fall of the city.

Can someone with access to HoMe provide a reference and correct my
probably erroneous recollection?

Neil Anderson

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
May 3, 2006, 3:57:22 AM5/3/06
to
nand...@transact.bm <nand...@transact.bm> wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer wrote:

<snip>

>> I've found a later quote making a specific link between the Doom of
>> the Noldor and the fate that befell Gondolin, the bit where another
>> Vala is talking to Turgon, and also engaging in a bit of prophecying:
>>
>> "And Ulmo warned Turgon that he also lay under the Doom of Mandos,
>> which Ulmo had no power to remove. 'Thus it may come to pass,' he
>> said, 'that the curse of the Noldor shall find thee too ere the end,
>> and treason awake within thy walls. Then they shall be in peril of
>> fire. But if this peril draweth nigh indeed, then even from Nevrast
>> one shall come to warn thee, and from him beyond ruin and fire hope
>> shall be born for Elves and Men.'" (Of the Noldor in Beleriand)
>>
> The fate of Gondolin make a specific appearance in the much earlier
> versions of the Doom of Mandos - I assume it must be in BoLT 1 or 2.
>
> In that, there is a reference to the withering or fading of "the
> Flower of the Valley", which none of the Noldor (Gnomes at that time)
> understood. Later Turgon uttered the same words from the Tower of the
> King in Gondolin during the fall of the city.
>
> Can someone with access to HoMe provide a reference and correct my
> probably erroneous recollection?

I think I've found the first reference, from BoLT 1:

"...standing upon a high rock he spoke to them aloud [...] and he
foretold many of the evil adventures that after came to them [...] and
at last he said: "Great is the fall of Gondolin", and none there
understood..." ('The Flight of the Noldoli', chapter 7, HoME volume I
[BoLT 1], p.167)

[Nothing about the 'Flower of the Valley' here - maybe that is in a
later version?]

The later reference from the Fall of Gondolin is here:

"Then said the king: "Great is the fall of Gondolin", and men shuddered,
for such were the words of Amnon the prophet of old..." ('The Fall of
Gondolin', chapter 3, HoME volume 2 [BoLT 2], p.184)

[So the words are repeated, as you thought. Thanks for pointing this
out. Some interesting differences in writing style - distinctively
different to the one we see in the published Silmarillion.]

The closest I could find to things withering in Gondolin was this, from
the published Silmarillion:

"The fume of the burning, and the steam of the fair fountains of
Gondolin withering in the flame of the dragons of the north, fell upon
the vale of Tumladen in mournful mists..." (Of Tuor and the Fall of
Gondolin)

There is also, in UT I think, a reference to the House of the Golden
Flower, or something, as one of those Houses of Gondolin.

nand...@transact.bm

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May 3, 2006, 9:06:25 AM5/3/06
to

I think that the BoLT is the only place I remember reading the explicit
mention of Gondolin in the Doom of Mandos. Therefore I have to
conclude that I was just misremembering it when I thought the Doom made
reference to the withering of the Flower of the Valley.

> The later reference from the Fall of Gondolin is here:
>
> "Then said the king: "Great is the fall of Gondolin", and men shuddered,
> for such were the words of Amnon the prophet of old..." ('The Fall of
> Gondolin', chapter 3, HoME volume 2 [BoLT 2], p.184)
>
> [So the words are repeated, as you thought. Thanks for pointing this
> out. Some interesting differences in writing style - distinctively
> different to the one we see in the published Silmarillion.]
>

Which rasie the question of why the mention of Gondolin was taken out
of the published Silmarillion. I guess it was just glossed over in the
later versions of the text.

> The closest I could find to things withering in Gondolin was this, from
> the published Silmarillion:
>
> "The fume of the burning, and the steam of the fair fountains of
> Gondolin withering in the flame of the dragons of the north, fell upon
> the vale of Tumladen in mournful mists..." (Of Tuor and the Fall of
> Gondolin)
>

I think elswhere in BoLT there is a list of the seven names of
Gondolin, of which one is simply "Loth" - "Flower". In the final
footnote to "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin" in UT, CJRT makes
mention of Tuor being told the seven names of the city, although we are
not explicitly told what they are.

> There is also, in UT I think, a reference to the House of the Golden
> Flower, or something, as one of those Houses of Gondolin.
>

Yes, Glorfindel of the Golden Flower, who goes all the way back to the
first version of the story of Gondolin. If only the entire story had
been retold in the same style as the bit we get in UT - we would have
had magnificent descriptions of all the other noble houses and their
lords!

Neil Anderson

Steve Morrison

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May 3, 2006, 3:30:36 PM5/3/06
to
nand...@transact.bm wrote:

> I think that the BoLT is the only place I remember reading the explicit
> mention of Gondolin in the Doom of Mandos. Therefore I have to
> conclude that I was just misremembering it when I thought the Doom made
> reference to the withering of the Flower of the Valley.

There's also this sentence in the /Narn i Hin Hurin/ about the Fifth
Battle:

Many songs are sung and many tales are told by the Elves of the
Nirnaeth Arnoediad, the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, in which
Fingon fell and the flower of the Eldar withered.

Might that have contributed to it?

Christopher Kreuzer

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May 3, 2006, 3:52:09 PM5/3/06
to
nand...@transact.bm <nand...@transact.bm> wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
>> nand...@transact.bm <nand...@transact.bm> wrote:

<snip>

>>> The fate of Gondolin make a specific appearance in the much earlier
>>> versions of the Doom of Mandos - I assume it must be in BoLT 1 or 2.
>>>
>>> In that, there is a reference to the withering or fading of "the
>>> Flower of the Valley", which none of the Noldor (Gnomes at that
>>> time) understood. Later Turgon uttered the same words from the
>>> Tower of the King in Gondolin during the fall of the city.
>>>
>>> Can someone with access to HoMe provide a reference and correct my
>>> probably erroneous recollection?
>>
>> I think I've found the first reference, from BoLT 1:
>>
>> "...standing upon a high rock he spoke to them aloud [...] and he
>> foretold many of the evil adventures that after came to them [...]
>> and at last he said: "Great is the fall of Gondolin", and none there
>> understood..." ('The Flight of the Noldoli', chapter 7, HoME volume I
>> [BoLT 1], p.167)
>>
>> [Nothing about the 'Flower of the Valley' here - maybe that is in a
>> later version?]
>>
> I think that the BoLT is the only place I remember reading the
> explicit mention of Gondolin in the Doom of Mandos. Therefore I have
> to conclude that I was just misremembering it when I thought the Doom
> made reference to the withering of the Flower of the Valley.

It's a nice image, and it does seems terribly familiar, but it looks
like it is only similar to other phrases, and I agree that there
probably isn't anything precisely corresponding to that phrase. At least
not that we've found.

>> The later reference from the Fall of Gondolin is here:
>>
>> "Then said the king: "Great is the fall of Gondolin", and men
>> shuddered, for such were the words of Amnon the prophet of old..."
>> ('The Fall of Gondolin', chapter 3, HoME volume 2 [BoLT 2], p.184)
>>
>> [So the words are repeated, as you thought. Thanks for pointing this
>> out. Some interesting differences in writing style - distinctively
>> different to the one we see in the published Silmarillion.]
>
> Which rasie the question of why the mention of Gondolin was taken out
> of the published Silmarillion. I guess it was just glossed over in
> the later versions of the text.

Personally, I think removing the explicit reference to Gondolin from the
Doom of Mandos is an improvement. Maybe it was done to allow the later
doom-laden prophecy from Ulmo? I'm not sure that part works so well
after an explicit reference in the Doom of Mandos.

>> The closest I could find to things withering in Gondolin was this,
>> from the published Silmarillion:
>>
>> "The fume of the burning, and the steam of the fair fountains of
>> Gondolin withering in the flame of the dragons of the north, fell
>> upon the vale of Tumladen in mournful mists..." (Of Tuor and the
>> Fall of Gondolin)
>
> I think elswhere in BoLT there is a list of the seven names of
> Gondolin, of which one is simply "Loth" - "Flower".

Yes. It is in the index to BoLT-2, along with 'Lothlim' - "people of the
flower", the name taken by the survivors of Gondolin.

> In the final
> footnote to "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin" in UT, CJRT makes
> mention of Tuor being told the seven names of the city, although we
> are not explicitly told what they are.
>
>> There is also, in UT I think, a reference to the House of the Golden
>> Flower, or something, as one of those Houses of Gondolin.
>
> Yes, Glorfindel of the Golden Flower, who goes all the way back to the
> first version of the story of Gondolin. If only the entire story had
> been retold in the same style as the bit we get in UT - we would have
> had magnificent descriptions of all the other noble houses and their
> lords!

There is a fair bit of that in the BoLT version of 'The Fall of
Gondolin', which I've greatly enjoyed re-reading. I did find a bit where
Turgon, immediately after the "Great is the fall of Gondolin" bit above,
refers to Gondolin as "the Flower of the Plain", so it looks like
"Flower of the Valley" must be an incorrect remembrance, but referring
to Gondolin as a flower is fairly common. Maybe Tirion upon Tuna is the
"Flower of the Valley"? The valley being the Calacirya. Though "Flower
of the Valley" also reminds me of Lothlorien, aforetime the 'Valley of
Singing Gold', and now the 'Dreamflower'.

Christopher Kreuzer

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May 3, 2006, 4:01:01 PM5/3/06