Leithian Script: Act III: 69. Notes - Scenes XVIII through XLIII

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69. Notes - Scenes XVIII through XLIII

Scene XVIII.

"auguries": ObRef to Sonnet 107, which opens:

            "Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul
           of the wide world dreaming on things to come,
           can yet the lease of my true love control,
           supposed as forfeit to a confinéd doom..."

I wanted this scene to convey a certain air of "Powhattan's daughter in London," the sense of a "barbarian princess" both fascinatingly exotic and at the same time unconsciously patronized. It seemed to me likely that a great part of her mystique would be her role as Melian's daughter, and that people would be extremely curious about her parents' relationship; while the outré nature of her escape would also have a certain fascination and gossipworthiness. The trick of course is making it plausibly outrageous without complete caricature; the most appalling rudeness (and the most entertaining from outside) is that which is committed completely obliviously.

As far as Lúthien's defensiveness in regards to her homeland, I've derived that from the ambiguity of her own words and feelings in the Lay:

              "My heart is glad when the fair trees
           far off uprising grey it sees
           of Doriath inviolate.
           Yet Doriath my heart did hate,
           and Doriath my feet forsook,
           my home, my kin. I would not look
           on grass nor leaf there evermore
           without thee by me..."

as well as from the fact that it would be pretty hard not to have absorbed the same attitudes as her father across four hundred years and more of being snubbed and/or verbally threatened by two of the three Houses of the Returnees.

The superior attitude of the "Easterners" and to a lesser extent the original citizens of Nargothrond is inspired largely by Fëanor's words to Olwë: "Yet you were glad to receive our aid when you came at last to these shores, faint-hearted loiterers, and wellnigh empty-handed. In huts on the beaches would you be dwelling still, had not the Noldor carved out your haven and toiled upon your walls." (Silm., Of the Flight of the Noldor)

I also wanted to carry a bit of the historical contrasts with the "Home Front" inevitably seen in any war - life goes on, oddly, and people don't worry and mourn all the time, if they aren't actually under siege. I modeled the atmosphere partly on the decades of WWI reading I've done, fact & fiction, modern and contemporary, and partly on the Second World War, as depicted in the classic film The Cruel Sea. Back again to the verse:

        "In Nargothrond the torches flared
        and feast and music were prepared.
           ...Out of mind,
        it seemed, were those afar that pined
        in anguish and in dungeons blind
        in prison and in misery."

"Especially after we saved you..." - The subsequent conversation refers to both Dagor-nuin-Giliath, (Silm., Ch. 13, Of the Return of the Noldor) and on Luthien's part, the First Battle of Beleriand (Silm., Ch. 10, Of the Sindar.) This was the one which took place centuries before the Return and resulted in the creation of Doriath and massive political reorganization sub-continent wide. It didn't get a memorable name like "Under Stars" or "The Glorious" or "Sudden Flame" or "Countless Tears," presumably because it was the first, as with the Great War; possibly because of cultural differences between Sindar and Noldor. (Any similarities to occasionally-heard Primary World statements  which might indicate a dig at certain of my compatriots' attitudes are, of course, purely intentional.)

"language": The initial pack-your-bags-and-get-out-of-my-sight reaction from Thingol on learning of the fact that his relatives had not had the nerve or the consideration to tell him about the Kinslaying and the Exile feels very much like the genuine emotional reaction that would follow such revelations. For a comparable scenario, imagine discovering that the charming colleague from the overseas office was, in fact, a political terrorist personally responsible for several car bombings, and that a trusted friend hadn't told you this, on the grounds of mutual friendship and the fact that, well, that was all in the past, he'd put it all behind him and didn't engage in such activities any more. One might well be too angry  for civil conversation, for the moment.

The subsequent injunction against the use of Quenya in Beleriand, however, has more the feel of a deliberate and considered measure, opportunely taken. One cannot think that the defender of the Sindar would have been overjoyed at seeing their ways and cultures lost and overwhelmed in the tide of the invaders, any more than he liked the thought of them being dispossessed from their hereditary lands. (I do not, however, have any hard proof of this conjecture.)

    Now King Thingol welcomed not with a full heart the coming of so many princes in might out of the West,     eager for new realms...[He] hearkened to the words of Angrod; and ere he went he said to him: 'Thus shall      you speak for me to those that sent you. In Hithlum the Noldor have leave to dwell, and in the highlands of     Dorthonion, and in the lands east of Doriath that are empty and wild; but elsewhere there are many of my     people, and I would not have them restrained of their freedom, still less ousted from their homes. Beware     therefore how you princes of the West bear yourselves; for I am the Lord of Beleriand, and all who seek     to dwell there shall hear my word..."
           -Silmarillion, "Of the Return of the Noldor"

(It was in response to Angrod's delivery of this message that Caranthir Fëanorion publicly referred to Thingol as a "Dark-elf," which attitude I've chosen to see as coloring all the following of Fëanor, and not obliterated by a mere decade of contact with the Nargothronders.)

"enhancement": -Did Lúthien know what she was doing in her unprecedented project? Going by the text, one has to say yes, whatever the Noldor expert might have thought. Canto V of the Lay of Leithian describes this process in great detail, which in part is excerpted here:

              "Now Lúthien doth her counsel shape;
           and Melian's daughter of deep lore
           knew many things, yea, magics more
           than then or now know elven-maids...
            ...A magic song to Men unknown
           she sang, and singing then the wine
           with water mingled three times nine'
           and as in golden jar they lay
           she sang a song of growth and day;
           and as they lay in silver white
           another song she sang, of night
           and darkness without end, of height
           uplifted to the stars, and flight
           and freedom. And all names of things
           tallest and longest on earth she sings:
           the locks of the Longbeard dwarves; the tale
           of Draugluin the werewolf pale;
           the body of Glómund the great snake;
           the vast upsoaring peaks that quake
           above the fires in Angband's gloom;
           the chain Angainor that ere Doom
           for Morgoth shall by Gods be wrought
           of steel and torment. Names she sought
           and sang of Glend the sword of Nan;
           of Gilim the giant of Eruman;
           and last and longest named she then
           the endless hair of Uinen
           the Lady of the Sea, that lies
           through all the waters under skies.
               Then did she lave her head and sing
           a theme of sleep and slumbering,
           profound and fathomless and dark..."

Note that some pretty strong stuff is invoked there, and not all of it "nice". (Glómund is an earlier form of Glaurung, by the by.) The principle of sympathetic magic is that similar things are metaphysically connected and may be substituted for, or invoked, to affect each other.

bindweed: wild form of morning-glory, with white flowers. For some reason it thrives along railroad tracks - you can see it growing along the lines into London.

"bowstrings": this is an homage to the Icelandic saga of Burnt Njal, well worth reading, in which this practice is a crucial plot point.

prisoners-of-war: this countermeasure to Morgoth's practice of subverting captives' will with delayed commands, cited earlier in the Script (and dating back even to the earliest version in The Tale of Tinuviel) is spoken of as preceding this time-period - which means that indeed, Finrod would have been responsible for such decisions. If that gives the reader pause - it should. Both military commanders and heads of state have to make harsh decisions which they would prefer not to, and which will not be popular: it takes more than niceness to build and administer the largest single territory in the Known World.

    "But ever the Noldor feared most the treachery of those of their own kin, who had been thralls in Angband,     for Morgoth used some of these for his evil purposes, and feigning to give them liberty sent them abroad, but     their wills were chained to his, and they strayed only to come back to him again. Therefore if any of his captives     escaped in truth, and returned to their own people, they had little welcome, and wandered alone and desperate."
"Of the Ruin of Beleriand"

Scene XIX
The Hall of Maps is based on a real place that I found in Rome. It's part of the Vatican Museums/Library complex and is incredibly cool - no other word for it, I'm afraid. They go all the way up to the ceiling, they're divided with ornate gold borders, so that when you walk in you're not sure if they're tapestries or not - except that tapestries don't have that intense cerulean blue and jade green to them. The semi-topographical nature with the realistic color makes it much more like a fly-over shot than a conventional map - which I find more useful than the artificially-colored and ruled maps that used to predominate atlases. And the place-names are lettered in gold... I don't remember how old it is, but it's at least two centuries, and possible quite a few more. (And I want one of my own - but I don't own this building, so I can't make one…)

There should be a distinct Helen of Troy atmosphere in this scene: despite the fact that it was at least as much Paris' fault, and subsequently his father the King, and their counsellors who chose to back the Prince and not the law, it was Helen who got all the blame from the people of Troy for their downfall. (This was a topic for discussion and debate through classical times as well as returning again through the present.)

Amon Ereb: A hill in southeast Beleriand, site of the concluding action of the First Battle of Beleriand mentioned in the preceding scene.

Amon Rûdh -the "bald hill", landmark to the north of Nargothrond; later the site of Turin's headquarters.. I'm assuming that Luthien would have followed along the general course of Esgalduin as the most direct as well as the simplest way of staying on track, which would have brought her out of the forest not far from this hill (though this is not necessarily the route she took at all - she could have taken a more southerly trail.)

"for Nienna's sake": as Nienna is the embodiment of pity, I don't think this is an entirely unwarranted invocation.

Scene XX

"straw out-burneth": Gower makes a deliberate contrast to the seventh poem of the sequence "The Passionate Pilgrim," in which complaint is made of the lady's fickle love, burning as bright and as quickly consumed as dry grass.

"up high": a reference to Luthien's preferred place for solitary meditation, LL1, Canto V:

            "A tree she climbed, till the bright air
            above the woods her dark hair blew,
            and straining afar her eyes could view
            the outline grey and faint and low
            of dizzy towers where the clouds go,
            the southern faces mounting sheer
            in rocky pinnacle..."

Scene XXI

Barad Nimras: this is the fortress that Finrod built on the south coast of Beleriand to guard against the possiblity of Enemy attack by sea; which did not however take place. I threw this in as a reminder first of Valinor and the West, and secondly of how much their power has been diminished and their dominion hemmed in since the Bragollach, and doubly so since the loss of Tol Sirion.

Lord Gwindor's projected involvement with the government of Nargothrond doesn't come out of nowhere. He is engaged to Orodreth's daughter, which under ordinary circumstances usually indicates some level of familiarity, particularly given the small-town atmosphere and long acquaintance of the Returnees; he is also of high rank, with a reputation for military valour well predating the Nirnaeth). He has enough authority to override Orodreth and lead his own command to the League of Maedhros against orders. All this indicates to me that he was no mere brainless cavalier or court butterfly, but someone with deep connections and functions in the realm, despite his impulsive and passionate nature. I see him as rather the Harry Hotspur of Narog, a fierce ideallist, - and one of those described in the Lay of Leithian thus:

           "And even such as were most true
           to Felagund his oath did rue,
           and thought with terror and despair
           of seeking Morgoth in his lair
           with force or guile..."

Moreover, it seems plausible that in such desperate times, the Regent would rely most heavily on those closest to him, and put such responsibilities and authority as he still controlled into trusted hands - all of which would contribute to the ongoing meltdown of Nargothrond with subsequent developments.

The entire sequence of the sortie at Thangorodrim took on added impact for me when I put it together with the Geste: Gwindor has an extremely personal stake after his brother is made example of by the enemy, but for the rest of his company to take part with the same demented berserker rage in the assault on the Gates speaks to me not only of vengeance but of atonement as well: -This time-

It also is strongly indicative to me of later events in the Silmarillion, most particularly his dying words to Turin, but also the latter's ascendence in Orodreth's affections and counsels - and Finduilas'. Turin can be seen as Gwindor's doppelgänger. Consider: Gwindor returns from captivity in bad enough shape to seem as an elderly mortal, while the son of Morwen the Elven-bright, tall, black-haired, raised among Elves, and an implacable warrior against Morgoth, has to have seemed almost Gwindor himself come back from the past. Thus the royal house can't help but fall for him, and so the Noldor lord can't hate him, despite Turin co-opting his life and the destruction caused by his rashness: "As you were, I once was, and as I am shall you become."

Scene XXII

The discussion between Lúthien and Celebrimbor is not only intended to introduce and foreshadow the battle for the "spoken keys" of Tol Sirion, but as a quiet reminder that Fëanor's grandson was not only responsible for making the three Elven-rings and inadvertently aiding Sauron's rise through the creation of the One, but also assisted with the fashioning of the Gates of Khazad-dûm on the Hollin side.


"miss the mark": Hopefully it's obvious - but not too blatant for the irony value - that more is going on with Celegorm's testing of bows than merely the obnoxiousness of the brothers unscrupulously making free of Finrod's belongings.

"taken care of": And here we have at last the explicit manifestation of the lines

        "Her ways were trammelled; closely kept
        she might not fly..."

Scene XXIV

This sequence is another homage to the original premise that she would leave with Huan, but without her cape, requiring subterfuge and infiltration instead of direct action to lure out and overpower the foe. Also, though without access to it her powers were greatly diminished, still her knowledge and essential skills wouldn't have been forgotten. The preceding verse indicates to me at least that she did try to escape, if she had to be thwarted and prevented - which is only logical, considering previous events.

Scene XXV.i
Gower's speech is a reference to Sonnet 65, which opens:

        "Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
        but sad mortality o'ersways their power,
        how with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
        whose action is no stronger than a flower?"

"spin this tale... and warp it too": as noted earlier, people tend to use metaphors familiar to them from their own life experience. It also, together with the cut about time, serves as a reminder of how much Luthien's perspective has changed from her fellow Eldar: the three days it took her to make her gear seemed "long."

"How long": Is it really plausible that the most arrogant and acquisitive and contentions of the sons of Fëanor would be permanently content to live on as "poor relations" of their youngest cousins, no matter how lavishly treated - any more than it's likely they wouldn't have already been resentful of the fact that the largest Noldor kingdom in Middle-earth wasn't theirs? Frankly, I don't think so for an instant. It was only a matter of time: Beren just happened to be the catalyst.

Structurally, I needed a way to get the whole tale retold without spending unnecessary (for the audience) screen time on the retelling. Hence the cut; however this also serves the purpose of reinforcing the dual facts of the ambiguousness of the citizenry of Nargothrond, to be strongly in the forefront later, and of the complications and messiness surrounding the House of Finwë in Aman, though that should hardly be necessary...

...and equally, this scene recalls the long duration of the connection between the families of Orodreth and Luthien.

"the Necromancer's aura": The atmosphere of horror which facilitated Sauron's taking of the fortress is described in the Silmarillion in terms nearly identical to the scenario of the Lord of the Nazgûl's assault on the second Minas Tirith at the end of the Third Age. Coincidence? I highly doubt it. One might remember as well that two factors seem able to counter the Black Breath, as recounted in RoTK: the first is divine origin, the second already being so used to functioning under depression as to be essentially immunized to further assaults. Lúthien shares to a degree in both.

"listened to Melkor": I don't think that Morgoth necessarily tempted him, because the poisoned atmosphere of rivalry leading up to the slaying of the Trees would have been more than enough to encourage envy, though it's certainly possible - but I think the fact that once again, their elders' sins are being played out, would have hit Orodreth hard, once it was pointed out to him.

Scene XXVI

sickening indoors: this belief is the reason for the elaborate and difficult scheme Thingol and his counselors concocted regarding the house in Hírilorn, as described in LL1, Canto V:

               ...In angry love and half in fear
           Thingol took counsel his most dear
           to guard and keep. He would not bind
           in caverns deep and intertwined
           sweet Lúthien, his lovely maid,
           who robbed of air must wane and fade,
           who ever must look upon the sky
           and see the sun and moon go by.

Readers have correctly noted herein (yet more) sinister foreshadowing of the future of Nargothrond.

"It can't happen": Yes, the Sons of Feanor were, according to Silm.("Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin") the least interested of the Noldor leaders in taking the war to the Enemy. This is a point worthy of some consideration, in my opinion. After all, they did have the most potentially to gain, both in terms of stolen property and of revenge.

The verse is taken from one of the very, very many versions of the song, "Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair," where it follows the stanza:
        Black, black, black is the color of my true love's hair,
        His face is something wondrous fair,
        The purest eyes and the bravest hands,
        -I love the ground whereon he stands
(Another version, speaking of a female beloved, has the refrain, "-She of the wondrous hair.")
Black Is The Color
Appalachian song of English derivation, learned from the version as sung by Joan Baez on the Vanguard recording In Concert 1.
(Amazon link, no audio clip avail.)
A midi of a version similar to this may be found here at The Contemplator:

Name magic: in Primary World lore, it's been used to control and bind, hence the use of secret names as well as masks for protection against hostile supernatural forces in shamanic traditions. Power can be held over someone by the fact of knowing an identity without any magical control as well, as in the case of espionage agents, or as described in "Narn i Hîn Húrin" (Unfinished Tales) when Nienor defiantly and catastrophically reveals herself to the dragon. Hence the secrecy with which Aragorn conceals himself, until ready to challenge Sauron with his presence.

Another use of what might be termed "name magic," is in self-definition and revelation. In Arda this is manifested in the "names of insight" or prophetic mother-names given among the Noldor, and in the "afternames" which are chosen or conferred throughout one's life, such as the many names of Strider. In the Primary World we only fortuitously encounter names which afterwards seem to have been given prophetically, though we do choose names that are meaningful and inspiring for our children. However, the giving and/or taking of names of usage is a huge part of growing up, and the rejecting of nicknames, alteration of spellings, using of middle names, and return to old forms all can be ideological and deliberate processes of self-identification.

The theme of identity, both as part of a family, and as a self standing apart from one's family, is also one of the many constant themes found in Middle-earth. All of these factors being active in Lúthien's situation, it seems plausible that she might very well make an issue of being recognized as she chooses to be, by her enemies-and-relations, and be just as adamant about it as her father was on the matter of Quenya.


Gower is referring to the vow Lúthien gave her father when Thingol tried to get her to promise not to run away:

        He sent for Lúthien, and said:
        'O maiden fair, what hath thee led
        to ponder madness and despair
        to wander to ruin, and to fare
        from Doriath against my will,
        stealing like a wild thing men would kill
        into the emptiness outside?'
        'The wisdom, father,' she replied;
        nor would she promise to forget
        nor would she vow for love or threat
        her folly to forsake and meek
        in Doriath her father's will to seek.
        This only vowed she, if go she must,
        that none but herself would she now trust,
        no folk of her father's would persuade
        to break his will or lend her aid;
        if go she must, she would go alone
        and friendless dare the walls of stone.
            In angry love and half in fear
        Thingol took counsel his most dear
        to guard and keep...

The Trees They Do Grow High
English ballad said to be inspired by a true story which took place as I recall in the 1400s.
Link to Real Audio clip of The Trees They Do Grow High, sung by Joan Baez on the Vanguard recording Joan Baez 2.
(Amazon links)

Scene XXIX

ObRef to the famous sonnet by Sir Thomas Wyatt, which I think fits rather well:

        Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
        But as for me, hélas, I may no more.
        The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
        I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
        Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
        Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
        Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,
        Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.
        Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
        As well as I may spend his time in vain.
        And graven with diamonds in letters plain
        There is written, her fair neck round about:
           Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,
           And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.

Luthien's twitchiness about beetles comes from the oldest rescension, The Tale of Tinúviel. There it's noted as a personal quirk of hers, in addition to disliking spiders (as evoking Ungoliant) like every normal Elf - while, however, unlike many humans, being a normal Elf she is perfectly fine with such other bugs as moths, which tend to be attracted to her. I've kept that because I thought it rather a charming weakness in one willing to confront Dark Lords, albeit not one I myself have (though it would seem to be shared by LOTR film actor Bernard Hill, as per his vivid description in interview of the Fell Beasts as resembling airborne stag beetles!)

On the other hand, it's impossible to imagine the same person who both felt sorry for Carcaroth and faced him down being either reduced to complete incompetent hysterics or demanding immediate squishing of the same...

Scene XXX

"jaw kicked in": in the wild, this happens to bad-mannered stallions who ignore both rejection signals and warnings. Fatalities resulting from a broken jaw have been documented among mustangs.

Celegorm -infatuation, implausible, or inescapable?

There's something of a fashionable trend to dismiss Lúthien as nothing more than a pretty face, and Tolkien by extension for writing characters who fall in love with mere beauty. Let us leave aside the fact that this requires ignoring a personality that, as written, for sheer stubbornness easily rivals Fëanor, to which add the combination of ingenuity, technical smarts and sheer nerve to follow through. -There's simply no getting around the fact that when the sons of Fëanor came upon Lúthien in the woods, she was not looking at her best, not after first roughing it for weeks and then having just been chased furiously through the woods "like a butterfly" by a hungry bird (LL1). It wasn't the beauty of a fashion-model impeccably painted and groomed for a photo-shoot, nor even of a Grace Kelley or Jackie Kennedy or Princess Diana at a state affair, that left the brothers dumbstruck. Like Yeat's description of a dangerously-beautiful lady as "Pallas Athena in a railway station," or the traditions surrounding Cleopatra, the most compelling beauty is that sort which is not merely symmetry and conventional prettiness - may indeed break all the conventions of the same - but which is informed by a dynamic personality and spiritual vibrance.

It is this - this charisma, technically termed - which Lúthien possesses in spades; and this being Arda, where myth is history, there are further metaphysical dimensions. She has a supernatural aura which manifests itself not only visibly in her physical appearance, but in her talents as well. (Before dismissing her singing ability, one ought to consider well what song means in the Silmarillion. Mock singing, - and one disses the universe itself.) From her divine parentage comes a link into the primal forces of Creation, and from her earthly parentage theElven unity with nature that gives an entirely different kind of power and comprehension. It isn't that she's "only half-Maia," but rather that she combines both sets of qualities into something different - and more powerful - than either. (The question of whether or not Melian realized her own destiny was not simply to protect, but to raise up a  peaceful weapon, so to speak, in the person of her daughter, and set her free to follow a like path - and willfully (if passively) turned away from this duty, is one which can never be answered conclusively, but is worthy of much consideration.)

So on the one hand Celegorm, meeting Lúthien, who manifests the Light of Valinor untainted by Rebellion and Downfall, can't help but be as drawn as Beren, or Huan, or, in turn, Morgoth. Mortal, Elf, Principality or Power - everyone wants Lúthien. The question is, whether they see her as a treasure to be kept, accquired, confiscated and locked up - or as a person whose free companionship, under whatever circumstances and at whatever costs, is the real prize. (Any parallels which may be drawn or discerned with certain jewels of divine and Elvish origin can scarcely be coincidental.)

Scene XXXI
Aside from foreshadowing future events, the introduction of the Gondolin connection, and the Black Sword, serves not only to reinforce how the past carries through all actions, at all times, but also as reminder of the eternal historian's problem of who knew what when, and whence. Receiving history in prefabricated lumps neatly edited into narrative, we tend to forget that on the one hand, this is not how it happened, and on the other, it is not how it is learned. The inchoate mass of happening is ongoing and not organized into compartments, however the outlines and chapters in schoolbooks might make it seem. It is important to bear in mind that the Silmarillion, being a chronicle of imaginary history, is just that - compiled after the fact by several chroniclers from many varied sources after the fact, attempting to put events into perspective and track down origins and prior influences which would not have been apparent at the time to those living them scattered across the country.

Trying to figure out what information would have been available to which persons at which times and by what means is one of the challenges of the diligent student of the past - but it can be a most rewarding one, filled with unexpected delights as well as disappointing revelations. For an example - not entirely unrelated to this present project - there is no single complete manuscript of the Iliad existing from ancient times: the oldest complete copy of it is medieval. Hence we do not have the same Iliad that Alexander supposedly carried around at all times and read before going to sleep each night, either in the particular physical copy or in the substance of the text, let alone "the Iliad of Homer." Yet before one dismisses the extant Iliad as invalid it's crucial to consider the many fragments themselves, the known provenance and history of the epic - and the fact that it's quoted and referenced in scores of existing pop-culture works from antiquity, from political debates to fanfiction parodies of the myths and epics, and these all shed light on the validity of the Venetus manuscript. And that's where it gets fun, tracking down things like these. -At least, I think so.

(Obviously, the "who knew what when whence" question is a driving concern (or should be) for the fanfiction author as well.)

The "very old story" of Neesha the Hunter & the Mournful Maiden half-remembered from beyond the Blue Mountains which Lúthien recounts is the story  - slightly modified - of Dierdre and the Sons of Uisneach from the Red Branch Cycle of Irish legend. Its inclusion is in part an homage to Yeats, whose immeasurable service in bringing fantasy and folklore and the Celtic mythos to popular culture must be eternally acknowledged with gratitude. (Those familiar with the Cycle will doubtless have percieved the relevance to future events recounted in Silm. as well: how kingdoms fell and alliances collapsed as a result of the treason against the lovers.)

Even with the change of which brother is obsessed with Lúthien, it still seems quite plausible that Huan might have had occasion to bare his teeth at Curufin as well:

        Nought said Huan; but Curufin
        thereafter never near might win
        to Lúthien, nor touch that maid,
        but shrank from Huan's fangs fraid...


"Hence and spurnéd hither:" in other words, kicked out.
Gower's elegant phrasing comes from The Comedy of Errors, where a luckless lackey compares himself to a football as he's sent back and forth with unwelcome messages.

Celebrimbor, unlike the rest of his family and most of the following of House Fëanor, does in fact break free of the Oath to follow his own destiny. I've chosen to mirror the future loyalty-triangle of Denethor-Faramir-Mithrandir as part of the explanation of why Curufin's son broke with his father, the problem of parental possessiveness which refuses to give affirmation, yet resents a child seeking that affirmation elsewhere. -It may also be part of the explanation of later, fatal, vulnerabilities in Eriador.

If there are echoes in this scene not only of Morgoth's original subversion of the Eldar in Aman but also Sauron's many subsequent manipulations of the folk of Middle-earth through the ages - there should be.

"smile and smile": Gower invokes Hamlet's words (Act I.v) on learning that his uncle murdered his father, declaring that "one may smile and smile and yet be a villain."

"bloodshed": I'm assuming that Luthien does, generally, have a pretty good idea of her parents and the way they think and will react, with the usual blind spots that we all have about situations we are too close to - and this is exactly what happens, almost.

A free John Donne reference for good measure:
                  Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
                  Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
                  For those, whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
                  Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
                  From rest and sleep, which but thy picture be,
                  Much pleasure, then from thee much more must flow,
                  And soonest our best men with thee do go,
                  Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
                  Thou'rt slave to Fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
                  And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
                  And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
                  And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then ?
                  One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
                  And Death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

The Queen of Hearts (second & third verses)
This song goes back at least to the late 1600s, being mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary.
As learned from the version sung by Joan Baez on the Vanguard recording In concert 2.
(Amazon link, no audio clip available.)

Come All Ye Fair And Tender Maidens (first & second verses)
As learned from the version sung by Joan Baez on the Vanguard recording Live at Newport.
(Amazon link, Real Audio clip.)

"crazy": in Shakespeare's Hamlet, the Prince feigns madness to lull his enemy into confidence that he has no suspicions (in the original Danish legend, he does so in order that his uncle will not kill him as a potential threat.) Using adversarial overconfidence, feints, and apparently mad plans against their enemies is something that all the successful heroes in Middle-earth do, and not just Lúthien - q.v. The Council of Elrond, and the assault on the Black Gates, in LOTR, for just a few examples.

House Carpenter (last verse)
This story of a demon lover luring a young woman away from home and family, while in the original version not workable for First Age Middle-earth without much modification (which I have not bothered to attempt for the present) due to its maritime theme, would nevertheless have resonated strongly in its essential plot with the inhabitants of Doriath, irony surely not missed by Lúthien.
Child Ballad #243, learned from the version as sung by Joan Baez on the Vanguard recording Live In Concert.
(Amazon link, Real Audio clip.)
Link to midi file of the melody,
gracefully arranged by and hosted courtesy of Melanie Ebener.


"Sindarin-style record keeping": among the several things going on in this scene is the intention of emphasizing what gaps of knowledge may result from the loss of oral traditions, based directly on statements made in the Silmarillion:

    "Of the long years of peace that followed after the coming of Denethor there is little tale. In those days,     it is said, Daeron the Minstrel, chief loremaster of the kingdom of Thingol, devised his Runes; and the     Naugrim that came to Thingol learned them, and were well-pleased with the device, esteeming Daeron's     skill higher than did the Sindar, his own people. By the Naugrim the Cirth were taken east over the     mountains and passed into the knowledge of many peoples, but they were little used by the Sindar for     the keeping of records, until the days of the War, and much that was held in memory perished in the     ruins of Doriath."
(from "Of the Sindar")


"Leaguer" is actually a very accurate analogy of the situation, given the way it turns out.

Huan was a battle-hound as well as a hunting dog, and in LL1, Canto VIII we are told:

            Alone of hounds of the Land of Light
        when sons of Fëanor took to flight
        and came into the North, he stayed
        beside his master. Every raid
        and every foray wild he shared,
        and into mortal battle dared.
        Often he saved his Noldor lord
        from Orc and wolf and leaping sword...

Ergo he must have been actively involved on that mid-winter night when the Pass of Aglon was forced and the brothers with their followers (and their guest and cousin Orodreth) were compelled to evacuate Himlad - presumably down the same unpleasant road along the northern edge of Doriath followed in past centuries by the Haladin and Aredhel (since if they'd been able to go around the southern marches, there's no obvious reason for them not to have joined up with Caranthir and the twins down at Ramdal by Amon Ereb across from Ossiriand.) Huan would no doubt have been a tremendous asset in keeping off giant spiders and other sorcerously-mutated creatures.

Ten Thousand Miles
Folk song popular in both Britain and North America with a large number of variations.
Link to Real Audio clip of Ten Thousand Miles, sung by Joan Baez on the namesake Vanguard album.
(Amazon links.)

In one of the outlines where Luthien and Huan go off without her cape, the Nargothronders return it to her via Huan after he returns with the liberated captives, out of shame and guilt. This says to me that a lot of people were aware on some level of the situation as it was playing out. Moreover it's said in LL1 that "Huan alone" was never enchanted by Lúthien's power, either deliberately or otherwise, which also indicates to me that she tried with the people of the City, (as is only to be expected.)

There Were Three Ra'ens (slightly altered to fit Middle-earth circumstances)
ballad arranged and published by Thomas Ravenscroft in 1611 and possibly written by him as well.
Originally learned from the version as sung by Burl Ives on the recording Folksongs for Children;
Here is a very well arranged midi file from the Internet
Renaissance Band's page:


Once I Knew A Pretty Girl (last verse)
This Appalachian ballad is used with intentional irony, since the rest
of the song is about a commitment-challenged girl who sends her sweetheart
away, but later changes her mind again, to which the rejected lover says,
"No thanks."
Learned from the version as sung by Joan Baez on the
Vanguard recording Joan Baez 2.

(Amazon link, no audio clip avail.)

Scene XL
"Lord of Misrule": Gower refers to the custom of appointing a Master
of Ceremonies responsible for arranging all the holiday entertainments
and revels during Yuletide at the courts and larger organizations of late
medieval England, whose authority over such matters as music selection,
pageants, party themes, charades, drama productions and banquets was real,
and who held court and was given homage as part of the game.

Scene XLI
"lasting storm": the imagery of this speech of Gower's is derived from
the words of Marina, Princess of Tyre, whose plight in Pericles
has some points in common with Lúthien's situation.

Mourners on the tomb: these statues, called "pleurants" or weepers,
were designed for the tombs of the Dukes of Burgundy, Philip the Bold and
his son John, by the sculptor Claus Sluter; a so-so image (large file)
can be found here until I scan in a better one from an art book.

North Country Maid (as sung; slightly altered for Middle-earth)
An old broadside ballad I learned originally by ear, and only the first
verse; when I decided to adapt it and see if there were other verses I
found it even more appropriate than I had at first thought.
Midi file of the melody from the Digital Tradition collection.

The Hart Round
This tune comes from a very old songbook I used to have, which was
published in the first decades of the last century. This was described
as an old English round, but I know no more of its provenance than that.
Midi file of the melody generated by myself via abc:

Some of this (and all of Lúthien's disputes with her Noldor kin) comes from the conflict between Amroth and Nimrodel, described in Unfinished Tales, where it is stated that

    "...she would not wed with him. She loved him indeed, for he was beautiful even for one of the Eldar,     and valiant and wise; but she was of the Silvan Elves, and regretted the incoming of the Elves from the     West, who (as she said) brought wars and destroyed the peace of old. She would speak only the Silvan     tongue, even after it had fallen into disuse among the folk of Lórien, and she dwelt alone beside the falls     of the river Nimrodel to which she gave her name."

I have ventured to presume that the outspoken and self-assured Grey-elven lady to some degree resembled her predecessor, and have thus dared to ascribe her opinions to Lúthien as well.

Could there have been something between Lúthien and Celegorm, if he'd bothered to show up and make himself agreeable four-hundred-odd years earlier? I doubt it not. He's brave and handsome and charming with the legendary family charisma. The tragedy of House Fëanor is that they all had so much potential for good, and threw it away with both hands, and having done so did at least as much damage to Middle-earth in the long run as Morgoth and his armies. What would have happened if the sons of Fëanor, post-Kinslaying, had nevertheless been at least civil to the rulers of Doriath, and what would have happened if Celegorm had married Lúthien, and then the murders had been revealed? Well, there's an AU for the imagining.

-But he didn't, and continued to demean the Teleri and pursue the path of arrogance and greed, and so the last trace of divine favour leaves his House with the gift of his patron, and passes to his rival.

In the final encounter between Lúthien and the sons of Feanor, she doesn't even acknowledge their existence - which is saying something considering that Celegorm's just tried to run Beren over and through and Curufin has flung her across his saddle-bow in their foiled kidnapping attempt. The way she cuts them dead is staggering; the equation with Orcs is found there too. Essentially, they don't exist for her now - they aren't even worthy of her anger. I wanted to indicate some kind of final closure which would make any further communication both irrelevant and impossible, as well as to suggest what could finally have pushed Huan over the edge into acting against the master for whose sake he had accepted the Doom of the Noldor, alone of all the other Hounds of Oromë's gift.

Scene XLII

"monuments": ObRef to several Sonnets, where the themes of love, mortality, Time and memory are woven together, most particularly numbers 55,

        "Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
        of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme,
        but you shall shine more bright in these contents
        than unswept stone, besmear'd with sluttish time,
        when wasteful war shall statues overturn..."

and 64,

        "When I have seen by Time's fell hand defaced
        the rich proud cost of outworn buried age;
        when sometime lofty towers I see down-razed,
        and brass eternal slave to mortal rage;
        when I have seen the hungry ocean gain
        advantage on the kingdom of the shore..."

as well as 81,

        ... from hence your memory death cannot take,
        although in me each part will be forgotten.
        Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
        though I, once gone, to all the world must die:
        the earth can yield me but a common grave,
        when you entombéd in men's eyes shall lie.
        Your monument shall be my gentle verse,
        which eyes not yet created shall o'er-read,
        and tongues to be your being shall rehearse,
        when all the breathers of this world are dead...

and the conclusion of 107,

        "And thou in this shall find thy monument,
        when tyrants' tombs and crests of brass are spent."

"this time it's true": that was the excuse Luthien gave to everyone when they got worried about her not communicating during the three days she was otherwise occupied:

            And now was her labour but begun:
           long was she spinning, long she spun;
           and though with elvish skill she wrought
           long was her weaving. If men sought
           to call her, crying from below,
           'Nothing I need,' she answered, 'go!
           I would keep my bed, and only sleep
           I now desire, who waking weep.'

These are, by-the-by, two of the most common and distinctive symptoms of depression.

She Moved Through The Fair (first verse)
A tragic love story of the "ghostly bride" class.
Link to midi file of the melody from the Digital Tradition collection:


Not merely angst, I hope, but conveying the reality (Primary World as well as Arda) that the events which have significant impact on history are not all measurable in simple cause-and-effect equations, but follow more complex patterns of interaction whose terms may never be fully definable. Reducing the causes history to an either-or debate which is cast as exclusively either strong individuals or broad societal forces ignores the fact that society is made of nothing but individuals, and the small decisions made each day for good or ill by said individuals is what builds up to movements, disasters, wars, reclamation projects, and the like. The top-down impact of authority figures on morale and a society's tenor is matched from beneath by countless examples of behavior and leadership on lesser scale, neither of which are separable from the other. The grand gestures and major events rest on a foundation of very minute actions and choices.

It is this reality which is behind the sense that fate can descend on a civilization for the deeds of its leaders, not unjustly, but because by action or inaction the group chooses to allow and approve those deeds, as played out in the ancient tragedies of Oedipus and Antigone.

Telemnar: I needed a masculine High-elven name and chose this one for the feckless Lieutenant based on the fact that many of the names of the Kings of Gondor are both Quenya and historical, and that Telemnar ("silver-flame") unlike some has no specific connotations of role or alliegiance or craft (i.e., Arciryas = "shiplord") and isn't similar enough to any other names to occasion confusion. No maligning of any actual First-Age Telemnar, if he existed, is intended by it.

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: Philosopher At Large

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 1st Age

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 01/25/03

Original Post: 08/16/02

Go to Leithian Script: Act III overview


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