Elves - Minor Characters: 17. Olwë

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17. Olwë

This character biography by Finch 2.27.03

Name: Olwë of Alqualondë
Title: King of the Teleri
Other Names: Ciriáran, or 'Mariner King'; abandoned versions of the name: Ellu, Solwë
Race/Species: Elf
Type: Teler
Dates: Age of the Trees - ?
Locations: Middle-earth, Valinor (Alqualondë)
Parents/Spouse: N/A
Children: Eärwen, and an unspecified number of other children

From the HoMe 4 (The Shaping of Middle-earth) onward, Olwë is Lord of the Teleri and brother of Elwë Singollo or Elu Thingol. A third brother, Elmo, appears only in Unfinished Tales and HoMe 11. In most versions of the mythology the brothers awoke on the shores of the Mere of Cuiviénen, but they do not play a role in the story about the First Elves found in HoMe 11 (The War of the Jewels). As Elwë comes first in the genealogies, Olwë must have been younger, but both of them were leaders of the Teleri, the third and most numerous tribe of the Elves, during the great westward march from Cuiviénen. HoMe 10 (Morgoth's Ring) contains the only description we have of him: "The hair of Olwë was long and white, and his eyes were blue."

Towards the end of the march, Elwë disappeared in Nan Elmoth (where he found Melian the Maia), and when he did not return to his people, the Teleri took Olwë for their lord. He and his people dwelled long on the shores of Middle-earth. 'And Ossë and Uinen came to them and befriended them and taught them all manner of sea-lore and sea-music. This it came to be that all the Teleri, who were from the beginning lovers of water, and the fairest singers of the Elvenfolk, were after enamoured of the seas.'

Eventually, Olwë didn't want to wait any longer for his brother, eager as he was to reach Aman. He and his people embarked on the island Tol Eressëa, and Ulmo drew it across the sea. On the shores of Aman the Teleri built the city and the harbour of Alqualondë with the help of the Noldor, and there, Olwë reigned as King. His daughter Eärwen, the Swan-maiden, married Finarfin, third son of Finwë, King of the Noldor. How many children he had is not attested; in the story of Finwë and Míriel (HoMe 10), we only find the remark: "Ingwë and Olwë beget many children in the bliss of Aman."

When the Noldor rebelled against the Valar, the Teleri did not join them and refused to help them in any way; instead they tried to dissuade them from leaving Valinor, for "they desired now no other home but the strands of Eldamar, and no other lord than Olwë," who had never listened to Morgoth. At that, Fëanor grew angry, and he said to Olwë: "You renounce your friendship, even in the hour of our need. Yet you were glad indeed to receive our aid when you came at last to these shores, fainthearted loiterers, and wellnigh emptyhanded."

But Olwë still refused to give the Noldor any of the Telerin ships. "Those you gave us not. We learned not that craft from the Noldor, but from the Lords of the Sea, and the white timbers we wrought with our own hands, and the white sails were woven by our wives and our daughters. Therefore we will neither give them nor sell them for any league or friendship. For I say to you, Fëanor son of Finwë, these are to us as are the gems of the Noldor: the work of our hearts, whose like we shall not make again."

However, this did not have the desired effect: Fëanor and his followers tried to seize the ships, and a battle ensued in which many were killed on both sides; afterwards this was known as the Kinslaying of Alqualondë, the first killing of Elves by Elves. Nothing more is told of Olwë in the histories of the Elder Days, from which it could be inferred that he was killed in the Kinslaying, but this has to remain conjecture.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Lyllyn

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: Other

Genre: Research Article

Rating: General

Last Updated: 04/06/03

Original Post: 02/13/03

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