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Meaning: Mourning

Other Names:
Níniel 'Tear-maiden'


Race/Species: Man

Type/Kind: 1st Age Edain

Dates: First Age 473-499

father: Húrin, 3rd Lord of Dor-lómin
mother: Morwen Eledhwen

Túrin Turambar
Urwen (Lalaith)

Túrin Turambar


Nienor was the daughter of Húrin of the House of Hador, 3rd Lord of Dor-lómin, and Morwen Eledhwen of the House of Bëor, and the sister of Túrin Turambar and Urwen (known as Lalaith); she later unknowingly married her brother:
In the first beginning of the year Morwen gave birth to her child, the daughter of Húrin; and she named her Nienor, which is Mourning. But Túrin and his companions passing through great perils came at last to the borders of Doriath.... Then Thingol received Túrin, and took him even to his own fostering, in honour of Húrin the Steadfast.... Thereafter messengers went north to Hithlum, bidding Morwen leave Dor-lómin and return with them to Doriath; but still she would not leave the house in which she had dwelt with Húrin....

For nine years [Túrin] dwelt in Thingol's halls, and during that time his grief grew less; for messengers went at times to Hithlum, and returning they brought better tidings of Morwen and Nienor.

But there came a day when the messengers did not return out of the north, and Thingol would send no more. Then Túrin was filled with fear for his mother and his sister, and in grimness of heart he went before the King and asked for mail and sword; and he put on the Dragon-helm of Dor-lómin and went out to battle on the marches of Doriath, and became the companion in arms of Beleg Cúthalion.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 21, Of Túrin Turambar

In that time of respite and hope, when because of the deeds of the Mormegil the power of Morgoth was stemmed west of Sirion, Morwen fled at last from Dor-lómin with Nienor her daughter, and adventured the long journey to Thingol's halls. There new grief awaited her, for she found Túrin gone, and to Doriath there had come no tidings since the Dragon-helm had vanished from the lands west of Sirion; but Morwen remained in Doriath with Nienor as guests of Thingol and Melian, and were treated with honour.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 21, Of Túrin Turambar

Then suddenly Glaurung withdrew his glance, and waited; and Túrin stirred slowly, as one waking from a hideous dream. Then coming to himself he sprang upon the dragon with a cry. But Glaurung laughed, saying: 'If thou wilt be slain, I will slay thee gladly. But small help will that be to Morwen and Nienor. No heed didst thou give to the cries of the Elf-woman. Wilt thou deny also the bond of thy blood?'

But Túrin drawing back his sword stabbed at the dragon's eyes; and Glaurung... said: 'See now! I offer thee freedom. Go to thy kin, if thou canst. Get thee gone! And if Elf or Man be left to make tale of these days, then surely in scorn they will name thee, if thou spurnest this gift.'

Then Túrin, being yet bemused by the eyes of the dragon, as were he treating with a foe that could know pity, believed the words of Glaurung and fuming away he sped over the bridge. But as he went Glaurung spoke behind him, saying in a fell voice: 'Haste thee now, son of Húrin, to Dor-lómin!.... And if thou tarry for Finduilas, then never shalt thou see Morwen again, and never at all shalt thou see Nienor thy sister; and they will curse thee.'

But Túrin passed away on the northward road, and Glaurung laughed once more, for he had accomplished the errand of his Master....

And Túrin hastened along the ways to the north, through the lands now desolate between Narog and Teiglin, and the Fell Winter came down to meet him.... Ever it seemed to him as he went that he heard the cries of Finduilas..., and great was his anguish; but his heart being hot with the lies of Glaurung, and seeing ever in his mind the Orcs burning the house of Húrin or putting Morwen and Nienor to torment, he held on his way, and turned never aside.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 21, Of Túrin Turambar

Thus [Túrin] came hardly by the passes of Dor-lómin, through bitter snows from the north, and found again the land of his childhood. Bare and bleak it was; and Morwen was gone. Her house stood empty, broken and cold; and no living thing dwelt nigh.... [He] learned of an old servant that Morwen was long gone, for she had fled with Nienor out of Dor-Lómin, none but Aerin knew where.

... Aerin declared to him that [Morwen] went to Doriath to seek her son. 'For the lands were freed then from evil,' she said, 'by the Black Sword of the south, who now has fallen, they say.' Then Túrin's eyes were opened, and the last threads of Glaurung's spell were loosed; and for anguish, and wrath at the lies that had deluded him, and hatred of the oppressors of Morwen, a black rage seized him....

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 21, Of Túrin Turambar

Now new tidings came to Doriath concerning Nargothrond, for some that had escaped from the defeat..., came at last to Thingol seeking refuge.... And some said... that the Mormegil was slain, and others that he was cast under a spell by the dragon and dwelt there yet, as one changed to stone. But all declared that it was known to many in Nargothrond ere the end that the Mormegil was none other than Túrin son of Húrin of Dor-lómin.

Then Morwen was distraught, and refusing the counsel of Melian she rode forth alone into the wild to seek her son, or some true tidings of him. Thingol therefore sent Mablung after her...; but Nienor was bidden to remain behind. Yet the fearlessness of her house was hers; and in an evil hour, in hope that Morwen would return when she saw that her daughter would go with her into peril, Nienor disguised herself as one of Thingol's people, and went with that ill-fated riding.

They came upon Morwen by the banks of Sirion, and Mablung besought her to return to Menegroth; but she was fey, and would not be persuaded. Then also the coming of Nienor was revealed, and despite Morwen's command she would not go back.... And after three days' journeying they came to Amon Ethir, the Hill of Spies..., a league before the doors of Nargothrond. There Mablung set a guard of riders about Morwen and her daughter, and forbade them to go further. But he... went down with his scouts to the Narog, as stealthily as they could go.

But Glaurung was aware of all that they did, and he came forth in heat of wrath, and lay into the river; and a vast vapour and foul reek went up, in which Mablung and his company were blinded and lost. Then Glaurung passed east over Narog.

Seeing the onset of the dragon the guards upon Amon Ethir sought to lead Morwen and Nienor away, and fly with them with all speed back eastwards; but the wind bore the blank mists upon them, and their horses were maddened by the dragon-stench..., and ran this way and that, so that some were dashed against trees and were slain, and others were borne far away. Thus the ladies were lost, and of Morwen indeed no sure tidings came ever to Doriath after. But Nienor, being thrown by her steed, yet unhurt, made her way back to Amon Ethir, there to await Mablung, and came thus above the reek into the sunlight; and looking westward she stared straight into the eyes of Glaurung, whose head lay upon the hill-top.

Her will strove with him for a while, but he put forth his power, and having learned who she was he constrained her to gaze into his eyes, and he laid a spell of utter darkness and forgetfulness upon her, so that she could remember nothing that had ever befallen her, nor her own name, nor the name of any other thing; and for many days she could neither hear, nor see, nor stir by her own will. Then Glaurung left her standing alone upon Amon Ethir, and went back to Nargothrond.

Now Mablung... returned to Amon Ethir..., and he found none there save Nienor, standing alone under the stars as an image of stone. No word she spoke or heard, but would follow, if he took up her hand. Therefore in great grief he led her away, though it seemed to him vain; for they were both like to perish, succourless in the wild.

But they were found by three of Mablung's companions, and slowly they journeyed northward and eastward towards the fences of the land of Doriath beyond Sirion, and the guarded bridge nigh to the inflowing of Esgalduin. Slowly the strength of Nienor returned as they drew nearer to Doriath; but still she could not speak or hear, and walked blindly as she was led. But even as they drew near the fences at last she closed her staring eyes, and would sleep; and they laid her down, and rested also, unheedfully, for they were utterly outworn. There they were assailed by an Orc-band.... But Nienor in that hour recovered hearing and sight, and being awakened by the cries of the Orcs she sprang up in terror, and fled ere they could come to her.

Then the Orcs gave chase, and the Elves after; and they overtook the Orcs and slew them ere they could harm her, but Nienor escaped them. For she fled as in a madness of fear, swifter than a deer, and tore off all her clothing as she ran, until she was naked; and she passed out of their sight, running northward, and though they sought her long they found her not.... And at last Mablung in despair returned to Menegroth and told the tidings. Then Thingol and Melian were filled with grief; but Mablung went forth, and sought long in vain for tidings of Morwen and Nienor.

But Nienor ran on into the woods until she was spent, and then fell, and slept, and awoke; and it was a sunlit morning, and she rejoiced in light as it were a new thing, and all things else that she saw seemed new and strange, for she had no names for them. Nothing did she remember save a darkness that lay behind her, and a shadow of fear; therefore she went warily as a hunted beast, and became famished, for she had no food and knew not how to seek it. But coming at last to the Crossings of Teiglin she passed over, seeking the shelter of the great trees of Brethil, for she was afraid, and it seemed to her that the darkness was overtaking her again from which she had fled.

But it was a great storm of thunder that came up from the south, and in terror she cast herself down upon the mound of Haudh-en-Elleth, stopping her ears from the thunder; but the rain smote her and drenched her, and she lay like a wild beast that is dying. There Turambar found her, as he came to the Crossings of Teiglin, having heard rumour of Orcs that roamed near; and seeing in a flare of lightning the body as it seemed of a slain maiden lying upon the mound of Finduilas he was stricken to the heart. But the woodmen lifted her up, and Turambar cast his cloak about her, and they took her to a lodge nearby, and warmed her, and gave her food. And as soon as she looked upon Turambar she was comforted, for it seemed to her that she had found at last something that she had sought in her darkness; and she would not be parted from him. But when he asked her concerning her name and her kin and her misadventure, then she became troubled as a child that perceives that something is demanded but cannot understand what it may be; and she wept. Therefore Turambar said: 'Do not be troubled. The tale shall wait. But I will give you a name, and I will call you Níniel, Tear-maiden.' And at that name she shook her head, but said: Níniel. That was the first word she spoke after her darkness, and it remained her name among the woodmen ever after.

On the next day they bore her towards Ephel Brandir; but when they came to Dimrost, the Rainy Stair, where the tumbling stream of Celebros fell towards Teiglin, a great shuddering came upon her, wherefore afterwards that place was called Nen Girith, the Shuddering Water. Ere she came to the home of the woodmen upon Amon Obel she was sick of a fever; and long she lay thus, tended by the women of Brethil, and they taught her language as to an infant. But ere the autumn came by the skill of Brandir she was healed of her sickness, and she could speak; but nothing did she remember of the time before she was found by Turambar on the mound of Haudh-en-Elleth. And Brandir loved her; but all her heart was given to Turambar.

In that time the woodmen were not troubled by the Orcs, and Turambar went not to war.... His heart turned to Níniel, and he asked her in marriage; but for that time she delayed in spite of her love. For Brandir foreboded he knew not what, and sought to restrain her, rather for her sake than his own or rivalry with Turambar; and he revealed to her that Turambar was Túrin son of Húrin, and though she knew not the name a shadow fell upon her mind.

But when three years were passed since the sack of Nargothrond Turambar asked Níniel again, and vowed that now he would wed her, or else go back to war in the wild. And Níniel took him with joy, and they were wedded at the midsummer, and the woodmen of Brethil made a great feast. But ere the end of the year Glaurung sent Orcs of his dominion against Brethil; and Turambar sat at home deedless, for he had promised to Níniel that he would go to battle only if their homes were assailed. But the woodmen were worsted, and Dorlas upbraided him that he would not aid the people that he had taken for his own. Then Turambar arose and brought forth again his black sword, and he gathered a great company of the Men of Brethil, and they defeated the Orcs utterly. But Glaurung heard tidings that the Black Sword was in Brethil, and he pondered what he heard, devising new evil.

In the spring of the year after Níniel conceived, and she became wan and sad; and at the same time there came to Ephel Brandir the first rumours that Glaurung had issued from Nargothrond.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 21, Of Túrin Turambar

Then Turambar... offered therefore himself to seek the dragon on the borders of the land, and bade the rest of the people to remain at Ephel Brandir, but to prepare for flight....

Then Turambar said farewell to Níniel, and she was filled with fear and foreboding, and their parting was sorrowful; but Turambar set out with his two companions and went to Nen Girith.

Then Níniel being unable to endure her fear, and unwilling to wait in the Ephel tidings of Turambar's fortune, set forth after him, and a great company went with her. At this Brandir was filled all the more with dread, and he sought to dissuade her and the people that would go with her from this rashness, but they heeded him not. Therefore he renounced his lordship, and all love for the people that had scorned him, and having naught left but his love for Níniel he girt himself with a sword and went after her; but being lame he fell far behind.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 21, Of Túrin Turambar

Then Turambar summoned all his will and courage and climbed the cliff alone, and came beneath the dragon. Then he drew Gurthang, and with all the might of his arm, and of his hate, he thrust it into the soft belly of the Worm, even up to the hilts. But when Glaurung felt his death-pang, he screamed, and in his dreadful throe... lay lashing and coiling in his agony. And he set all in a blaze about him..., until at last his fires died, and he lay still....

Turambar... crossed the water once more, desiring to recover his sword and to look upon his foe.... Then Turambar seized the hilts..., and cried in mockery of the dragon and his words at Nargothrond: 'Hail, Worm of Morgoth! Well met again! Die now and the darkness have thee! Thus is Túrin son of Húrin avenged.'

Then he wrenched out the sword, but a spout of black blood followed it, and fell on his hand, and the venom burned it. And thereupon Glaurung opened his eyes and looked upon Turambar with such malice that it smote him as a blow; and... he fell into a dark swoon....

The screams of Glaurung rang in the woods, and came to the people that waited at Nen Girith; and..., they deemed that he had triumphed and was destroying those that assailed him. And Níniel sat and shuddered beside the falling water, and at the voice of Glaurung her darkness crept upon her again, so that she could not stir from that place of her own will.

Even so Brandir found her, for he came to Nen Girith at last, limping wearily; and when he heard that the dragon had crossed the river and had beaten down his foes, his heart yearned towards Níniel in pity. Yet he thought also: 'Turambar is dead, but Níniel lives. Now it may be that she will come with me, and I will lead her away, and so we shall escape from the dragon together.' After a while therefore he stood by Níniel, and he said: 'Come! It is time to go. If you will, I will lead you.' And he took her hand, and she arose silently, and followed him; and in the darkness none saw them go.

But as they went down the path to the Crossings... Níniel said: 'Is this the way?' And Brandir answered that he knew no way, save to... escape into the wild. But Níniel said: 'The Black Sword was my beloved and my husband. To seek him only do I go. What else could you think?' And she sped on before him. Thus she came towards the Crossings of Teiglin and beheld Haudh-en-Elleth in the white moonlight, and great dread came on her. Then with a cry she turned away, casting off her cloak, and fled southward along the river, and her white raiment shone in the moon.

Thus Brandir saw her from the hill-side..., but he was still behind her when she came to the ruin of Glaurung nigh the brink of Cabed-en-Aras. There she saw the dragon lying, but she heeded him not, for a man lay beside him; and she ran to Turambar.... Then finding that his hand was burned she washed it with tears and bound it about with a strip of her raiment, and she kissed him and cried on him again to awake. Thereat Glaurung stirred for the last time ere he died, and he spoke with his last breath, saying: 'Hail, Nienor, daughter of Húrin. We meet again ere the end. I give thee joy that thou hast found thy brother at last. And now thou shalt know him: a stabber in the dark, treacherous to foes, faithless to friends, and a curse unto his kin, Túrin son of Húrin! But the worst of all his deeds thou shalt feel in thyself.'

Then Glaurung died, and the veil of his malice was taken from her, and she remembered all the days of her life. Looking down upon Túrin she cried: 'Farewell, O twice beloved! A Túrin Turambar turun ambartanen: master of doom by doom mastered! O happy to be dead!' Then Brandir who had heard all..., hastened towards her; but she ran from him distraught with horror and anguish, and coming to the brink of Cabed-en-Aras she cast herself over, and was lost in the wild water.

Then Brandir came and looked down, and turned away in horror.... And thereafter no man looked again upon Cabed-en-Aras, nor would any beast or bird come there, nor any tree grow; and it was named Cabed Naeramarth, the Leap of Dreadful Doom.

But Brandir made his way back to Nen Girith... and men cried to him: 'Have you seen her? For Níniel is gone.'

And he answered: 'Níniel is gone for ever. The Dragon is dead, and Turambar is dead; and those tidings are good.' The people murmured at these words...; but Brandir said: 'Hear me to the end! Níniel the beloved is also dead. She cast herself into Teiglin, desiring life no more; for she learned that she was none other than Nienor daughter of Húrin of Dor-lómin, ere her forgetfulness came upon her, and that Turambar was her brother, Túrin son of Húrin.'

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 21, Of Túrin Turambar

Túrin they laid in a high mound where he had fallen, and the shards of Gurthang were laid beside him. And when all was done, the Elves sang a lament for the Children of Húrin, and a great grey stone was set upon the mound, and thereon was carven in runes of Doriath:


and beneath they wrote also:


But she was not there, nor was it ever known whither the cold waters of Teiglin had taken her.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 21, Of Túrin Turambar

Elena Tiriel 18Sep08

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