11. Gelmir and Arminas
Names: Gelmir & Arminas
Meaning of names: ? Jewel & Royal/Noble Tower
Location: Dorthonion, Mouths of Sirion
Tolkien used the name Gelmir more than once. In the Lays of Beleriand (HoMe 3), Fingolfin's father is called Gelmir, and in The Shaping of Middle-earth (HoMe4), Gelmir is 'King of the Gnomes', but these are one-time occurrences of the name. The Silmarillion has two Gelmirs. The first of them is the brother of Gwindor, captured in the Dagor Bragollach and later mutilated and killed to precipitate the attack of the Noldorin army in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. This worked, with the well known, disastrous result.
The second Gelmir is always mentioned together with Arminas. They are mentioned for the first time in the continuation of the Grey Annals, found in The Wanderings of Húrin, part three of The War of the Jewels (HoMe 11): 'Gelmir and Arminas come to Nargothrond and bring warning of forces mustering in Narrow Land and under Erydwethian [sic]. They are rejected by Túrin.' (Sic: usually the name of these mountains is given as Ered Wethrin.)
In Unfinished Tales, the main source of information for these two characters, we get more information about Gelmir and Arminas. Both were of the people of Angrod; after the Dagor Bragollach they wandered far, until they came to dwell among Círdan's people by the Mouths of Sirion. From there, Círdan sent them on their way with a message from Ulmo, warning the King of Nargothrond (then Orodreth) about an approaching peril. However, they were sent along the length of the coast to the Firth of Drengist, according to Arminas for speed and secrecy, but at first sight this seems a long detour. 'Greater secrecy,' Christopher Tolkien writes in the Appendix to the Narn i Hîn Húrin (UT), 'could surely have been achieved by journeying up Narog from the South. It might be supposed that Círdan did this in obedience to Ulmo's command, so that they should meet Tuor in Dor-lómin and guide him throug the Gate of the Noldor), but this is nowhere suggested.'
At the time Christopher Tolkien wrote this passage, he had probably not yet discovered the continuation of the Grey Annals, because his father had mislaid this: The entry there suggests Gelmir and Arminas were also meant to be eyewitnesses to the mustering of enemy forces in the North, to add weight to their errand in Nargothrond. But it is true that they helped Tuor to find the road to Vinyamar and the Sea, where Ulmo gave him a message to the King of the other hidden Kingdom, Gondolin. In Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin (UT), they show him the Gate of the Noldor, the hidden passage through the Ered Lómin, which Tuor could not find alone.
It is only after this, that they turned south to Nargothrond with the message to Orodreth. In the Appendix of the Narn we read that their reception was cool. When Orodreth asked them what they were doing in the North, Arminas answers that he sought the hidden kingdom of Turgon, because 'it is said that his kingdom shall stand longest against Morgoth'. Orodreth didn't like this, and when Gelmir warned him about the evil creatures gathering in the North, Túrin told them: 'Your news is stale. If the message of Círdan was to any purpose, it should have come sooner.' Whereupon Gelmir gave them Ulmo's warning: 'The Evil of the North has defiled the springs of Siron, and my power withdraws from the fingers of the flowing waters. But a worse thing is yet to come forth. Say therefore to the Lord of Nargothrond: Shut the doors of the fortress and go not abroad. Cast the stones of your price into the loud river, that the creeping evil may not find the gate.' But Túrin (and therefore also Orodreth, who left the decisions to his human captain), refused to listen.
Túrin's rejection was rather scornful, calling the two 'messengers of mischief'. This led to an unpleasant exchange with Arminas, who got angry and suggested that unlike his cousin Tuor, Túrin lacked courtesy, predicting he would end up badly: 'You, it seems, will take counsel with your own wisdom, or with your sword only; and you speak haughtily. And I say to you, Agarwaen Mormegil, that if you do so, other shall be your doom than one of the Houses of Hador and Bëor might look for.' After which Túrin replied rudely: '... shall I (...) endure the taunts and ill-bodings of a runagate?'
There, the altercation ended; we only read that Gelmir and Arminas returned to the South, though 'despite Túrin's taunts they would gladly have awaited battle beside their kin, and they went only because Círdan had bidden them under the command of Ulmo to bring back word to him of Nargothrond and of the speeding of their errand there.' Obviously neither lacked courage. Otherwise, though they are mostly mentioned together, they appear to be rather different in character. Arminas is the more outspoken of the two and more easily provoked to anger, while Gelmir tries to preserve the peace, telling Orodreth not to be angered and trying to steer Arminas away from conflict. This small vignette attached to the Narn i Hîn Húrin shows Tolkien's power of characterisation, even on a small scale.
Conclusion: Gelmir and Arminas are instrumental in the conveying of two warning messages to Noldorin Kings, and though both these kingdoms perish nonetheless, the aid they give Tuor will eventually lead to the birth of Eärendil, and his saving mission to Valinor.
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