11. Notes - Part 1
This section gave me a double problem to resolve throughout.
Typically in fairy tales, fantasy and science fiction, there is a viewpoint character to reveal the tale's Wonders to us, the Ordinary Fellow, who witnesses them vicariously and reacts to them as we would. (C.S Lewis also addresses this at length in an essay on sf which has lots of fascinating revelations about the different kinds of speculative fiction and how they work.) And ordinarily, this is how a story of a mortal hero wandering into the Land Beneath The Hills would work — how most folk tales work, indeed, whether he be prince or a weary soldier returned from the wars, or the youngest son of a poor widow — or she be the merchant's youngest daughter, indeed!
But — Beren is anything but an ordinary guy by this time — not that he ever was, being "being born in charmed hour" under a great Doom to a house of Elf-friends and extraordinarily motivated (not to say driven) and duty-bound people devoted to Powers they'd never met. So his reactions are not going to be the same as someone from a developed nation who's never spent years being hunted through the woods with a price on his head, four of them entirely apart from human companionship, let alone been chosen as the True Love of the immortal daughter of a demigoddess — which brings me to the singular irony of the Elven realms.
Namely, that they are far closer to our age, and our developed world, than anything Beren would have known even in peacetime. For the lifestyle in peace of the Men of Beleriand is only a little removed (if at all) from the pioneer experience, which people tend to forget when they think "Middle-earth = Medieval" — Kate Elliot in her Crown of Stars series is the only contemporary author I know of who seems to be aware that Europe even as late as around 1000 years ago was essentially a jungle, mostly covered with dense old-growth forest full of wild animals through which, and around which, people cut clearings and eked out a living and fought to tame. Hence in the Exeter Book the Anglo-Saxon riddle about the plough calls Men "the wood's old foe" bringing axes and fire to the forest.
After five generations of settlement, the Northlands would be somewhat tamed, but still rather in the mode of the old Highlands, or the hill-and-forest-clearing fields of New England before the rise of the mills and mass transport. No shopping malls, no mass-production — and not even great Fairs, like in the high Middle Ages, because no walled cities and roads to carry goods on. Small farms, small communities like those of the Viking sagas, mostly independent, not tightly organized nor "feudal" in the image we tend to have from movies. And this is a dangerous way to live when being invaded, as the ordeal of the Haladin earlier in Silm. portrays, but it is the way that independent and self-motivated types have historically chosen to live.
Thus, the Nargothrond sequence, with its centralized government, organized services, modern conveniences and assumptions of what a proper lifestyle entails, is in a real sense us — magic indistinguishable from technology and vice-versa, if sufficiently advanced — revealing another world and lifestyle to our sensibilities in their reaction to Beren.
I've made the dialogue of Nargothrond more formal and archaic, slightly, than that of Doriath, as a consideration of their more sophisticated historical background and more unified culture. Again, see the ROTK Appendices for a detailed discussion of the employment of different modes and dialects to convey meaning in Tolkien's own words.
We are told that Beren was received with great courtesy (despite the fact that he looked like a bum) as he was arrested on his careful and public entry into Nargothrond. Given that for five generations previously his family had not only sent troops to the Leaguer but sent squires to Nargothrond of whom some remained there like Bëor, who gave over the headship of his tribe and ended his days in service to the King, I imagine that there would be considerable deja vu among the native Nargothronders (though not necessarily for the recent influx of Feanorian partisans) and most especially among surviving veterans of the Leaguer, on encountering Beren.
This scene is indeed my own, but should not be seen as contrary to Canon but simply gapfilling: how in detail might Beren's welcome and arrival play out, how would Nargothrond react, what political and personal complications are already existing there and what might they look like? Obviously, something had to happen during all those hours; I'm just taking a stab at, possibly, what. Could any or all of the other characters present in the City have encountered Beren? Sure! What would their likely reactions and interactions have been, given what we know of their personalities? relationships? —That's all.
Oh, and it provides a useful way of indicating just how much unlike your typical fantasy hero Beren is, which is something [else] that tends to get lost in the usual summaries and renderings of the tale. Not only is he not just some random warrior, which I emphasize by the use of his title in formal exchanges; — Conan "Dark Lord killed my family? Constant fighting? Giant spiders? Piffle!" the Barbarian he ain't. (No more than he is "Bond —Whoops, did I lose another girlfriend there? —James Bond".) Even before he leaves Dorthonion one step ahead of the death squads, he is already practically the poster child for PTSD. He isn't even your modern typical commando dude who can count on being extracted from enemy territory and taken home to first-world luxury and safety at mission's end. He doesn't even have the support structure of a Rebel Alliance to give some assistance and comfort while being hunted from system to system. It's hardly surprising that he is described while in Doriath as being "as wild and wary as a faun/that sudden wakes at rustling dawn, and flits from shade to shade, and flees/the brightness of the sun, yet sees all stealthy movements in the wood," even when no one is actually out to get him.
And things just keep getting worse...
manchets: round loaves of white bread; subtleties: pastries, desserts (often in decorative shapes); viands: meats (by derivation main dishes).
wolf, wolf's head are traditional Old English terms for outlaw.
Indis: Fëanor's stepmother, Finrod's grandmother and Curufin & Celegorm's step-grandmother — a Silm. reference to the line "the sons of Indis" from the Morgoth-sponsored rivalry between the sons of Finwë.
Before forks became popular, everyone did bring their own knives to the dinner table.
Being a vegetarian in a pre-industrial war zone would have been a lot of work, and indicate a tremendous amount of stubborness and ingenuity as well as idealism. This is, by the way, straight canon from Silm. and amplified in Lays, where it's made clear that before his companions were wiped out he was a hunter of great renown (and thus, one assumes, bore tremendous responsibility for helping to provide for his people which would increase as farms and communities were destroyed by the war.)
It is remarked in Letters that Elven illusion would have been used for amusement and as art.
"familiar": either during the course of the Leaguer or in the aftermath of the Dagor Bragollach when in the confused days following the Lords of Aglon-and-Himlad attached themselves to Finrod's party, it seems likely to me that they would have inevitably run into some of the Beorings helping to run the siege.
Tengwar was the Quenya alphabet; cirth the runes invented long ago by Daeron, Beren's rival for Luthien's affections.
Thanks are due to Finch for reminding me that Finduilas' lost lover who returns with Turin to Nargothrond is defined in Silm. as the lord of Nargothrond whose brother was lost in the Dagor Bragollach and proven to have been a POW as he is brutally slaughtered in front of the armies of Maedhros' alliance, to provoke them into premature and reckless attack. (In the earlier LCH this is not the case, though the story is still tragic enough.) This required reworking of the scene and of the subsequent Act III, but allowed for more irony and angst in referring of course to the future tragedies of the Nirnaeth Arnoediad and fall of Nargothrond. It also made for some interesting dramatic possibilities given that a new significance is lent to Gwindor's statement that Turin is no Beren — no longer an abstract remark but a personal comparison by someone who knew them both. Thanks to NovusSibyl for taking part in clarifying discussions on the question of whether or not the battlefield survivors would have had any awareness that Gelmir was a POW, which is usually assumed by readers but not warranted in my opinion either by canon or by Primary World experiences of war...
"Fair were the words of Narog's king
to Beren, and his wandering
and all his feuds and bitter wars
recounted soon. Behind closed doors
they sat, while Beren told his tale
of Doriath; and words him fail
recalling Luthien dancing fair
with wild white roses in her hair,
remembering her elven voice that rung
while stars in twilight round her hung.
He spake of Thingol's marvellous halls
by enchantment lit, where fountain falls
and ever the nightingale doth sing
to Melian and to her king.
The quest he told that Thingol laid
in scorn on him; how for love of maid
more fair than ever was born to Men,
of Tinuviel, of Luthien,
he must essay the burning waste,
and doubtless death and torment taste."
I have endeavored to do justice here not only to the texts but to the whole backstory that leads to this meeting and exchange "behind closed doors."
main-wrought: "hand-made," with overtones of "cobbled together" and "brute force"; my own coinage. —Hey, if Shakespeare could do it…
Huan: I've taken the artistic liberty of introducing Huan to this scene, as to the previous, for several reasons. It's never stated that he wasn't present, after all, so this isn't a contradiction of Canon. But it is stated several times in LL1 that Huan is a friend of the King, and given Huan's attraction to people of good alignment and his independent behavior, throughout the story, it's plausible to me that he would have wanted to hang out with them. (It's also plausible to me given my experience with ordinary mortal dogs, who make friends without their owner's permission.) There's another reason for making Huan present now, but I'll cover that when we get there.
Emeldir: Here indeed I build much upon little — but the foundation is, I believe, secure. We are told in Silm. that, as referred to in Act I, Emeldir was a warrior, called "the Manhearted" by her neighbors, who led a final group of refugees to safer lands ahead of the invading forces of Angband. And who would rather have stayed to die with her husband and son, but didn't. While working on an idea for a sketch of her, I realized that I had simply assumed she had the usual Edain coloring of the Third Age, but I really didn't know: the personal appearance of any of the Beorings in particular is not a relevant plot point in the story, (except for the parts about Beren looking a wreck after too many adventures, and that still, he too is "fair" — at least in Luthien's eyes.)
Researching this I discovered that not only was that assumption incorrect, so too the assumption of similiar coloration for her son. According to notes in HOME, though Emeldir was born in Dorthonion, of the tribe of Beor, her mother was of the ruling house of Marach, and her father was also of matrilineal Hador descent. (Stories there, for anyone who wants to explore First Age peacetime life, the journeys and meetings and daily experiences of the Edain…) So Emeldir is blond like her great-nephew Tuor, and her son inherits lighter brown hair and is taller than Barahir his father, and we can gather that she too is both tall and robust, very likely taller than her husband. And an extremely good fighter, given that she successfully got a party of women and children through two sets mountains full of Orcs to safety in her ancestral homeland.
There are a few other elements upon which I draw: first of all, that Beren is not Turin. Granted, there are many ways in which one could not be like Turin, but taken into combination with what we do know of Beren's character, this makes it easy to shade in the portrait — in any given circumstance, not dealt with in the extant texts, a good many responses can instantly be ruled out this way? i.e., "How would Turin react? Ok, that wouldn't happen here, then." Nor, despite his long years as a solitary rebel warrior, does he become a psychopath like Turin's outlaws. This says two things to me: very strong moral fibre, and a very good upbringing.
And so I can't help but see Emeldir of Dorthonion as someone highly principled, absolutely uncompromising when it comes to demanding the best from herself and everyone around her, considered a bit eccentric in peacetime but not concerned with people's opinions of her (only whether they're deserved or not), willing to give her all and sacrifice her own wishes to duty, and — when the menfolk are off at the War — the Lord as well as Lady of the place, just as in medieval and frontier times. And, equally naturally, her son's first teacher and example during those those years. Was she a good and loving person as well as a brave, strong, and dutiful one? Just look at how her son turned out…
And the relationship between his parents?
Well, Beren is neither threatened by, nor resentful of, a woman stronger than he. (Absolutely terrified that she'll end up like Eilinel as a result of her association with him, but that's only natural.) And that says more to me than almost anything else…
>"my uncle": One other thing I wanted to convey here is a fact that isn't obvious if you merely read the chapter "Of Beren & Luthien" in Silmarillion and don't go back and read the rest of it, in particular about the Dagor Bragollach, to see where they're all coming from. And that is — Beren is not the ordinary "heir to the realm" of Dorthonion. Yes, he was born into the ruling house, yes, given the uncertainties of life it was always a possibility — but he was merely the Lord's nephew, the son of the younger brother of the head of the family who already had two living older sons of his own. (In fact, had Barahir died otherwise, and the rest of the band still survived — or if the war had not overwhelmed Dorthonion in the first place — based on authentic medieval precedents, it's anyone's guess whether Beren or one of his cousins would have been acclaimed chief of the tribe.) No automatic assumption of inherited privilege at all — not that there would have been, really, anything like what we tend to think of as "aristocracy" for the Beorings in any case. He inherited a duty, without any perks whatsoever by the time he got it, simply by default. And tried to fulfill it, singlehanded, for as long as he possibly could, until it was made irrelevant by forces outside his control.
It's even more interesting that his uncle Bregolas died alongside Finrod's brothers in the fighting — Angrod and Aegnor had been the lords of Dorthonion as vassals of their brother the King before the land was given to the Beorings, who took the defense over from them, and with whom they still defended the frontier of that country. The connections and parallels are more complex and deeply woven than at first sight...
"two noble kinsman": an ObRef to a play cowritten by Shakespeare and John Fletcher, based on the story found in Chaucer's Knight's Tale, a story of rivalry and broken faith and a battle for the hand of a lady…
Elwe/Elu: Who does, and who doesn't, bother to use the modernized version of Thingol's name, is not random. People from Aman will know of him first as Elwe, people born in latter days won't even know there was another way of pronouncing it necessarily, and the Sons of Feanor aren't going to give him even symbolic deference in absentia.
Caranthir: perhaps I read too much ancient history and political intrigue, but I can't escape the conclusion that for some reason, the Haladin found their rescuer even more scary, and the thought of his active involvement in their lives a worse prospect, than Orcs. One doesn't become refugees for no good reason, particularly just after having fought a hard war. Add that to the chroniclers' asides as to Caranthir's insolence, arrogance, hideous temper, and later actions — and it adds up, for me, to a picture of someone charismatic, dynamic, charming, and violent, whom you don't ever, ever want to tangle with if you have any sense... He is after all a Son of Feanor too.
Haleth: It's been at least three generations since the legendary Chieftain of the Haladin led her people to a new homeland in the western forests, and for most of us, fifty years ago is — a long time. A hundred years ago is a long time. A hundred-fifty years ago is a long time...two hundred a really long time… Intellectually we may even know that, realize that compared to say "geological time", it's nothing, but on a basic personal level — it's all "a long time ago." Even for those of us who really know history and study family lore, there's a certain cognitive dissonance involved in keeping the relative scale present. I do think that this would be the case for Beren, who never even had the opportunity to achieve the level of accustomed familiarity that his older relatives had with Elvenkind in the Leaguer — and that it would trouble Finrod, divided as in Canon between loyalty and prudential considerations.
Luthien older than Finarfin's children: Thanks to Finch for supplying this fact, which, though not appearing to make a whole lot of difference, affects a lot of things when the implications are drawn out.
Burning Brier, Sickle: the Seven Stars of the constellation we the Great Bear or the Big Dipper, or of old in England, Charles' Wain — a sacred symbol to the Elves, who called it the Valacirca, the Sickle of Elbereth which she placed in warning and challenge to Morgoth in the northern sky, and to the Edain as well, who named it additionally the Burning Brier, which evokes the idea of a thorn-hedge/spear-wall of defense against Anband. It's particularly meaningful to Beren, according to the Texts…
the ring of Finarfin: this is the second time I discovered I had in fact correctly intuited The Professor's intentions, which is a bit disconcerting. Any time you take something past a sketch or an outline you have to make all kinds of nitpicky decisions, from stage direction to set design — and hence consider the text and implications in far more careful detail than, say, for an essay test. One thing I found myself wondering was — when and why did Finrod give back the ring to Barahir's son? Since it has to remain in the family for the later descendents in Numenor to bring it back to Middle-earth, so that it becomes the signet of the Kings of Gondor.
Because — for me, at least — implicit in the notion of a pledge is the fact of the exchange: the token is given the first time as the visible sign of the vow, and then returned in the claiming of it. So although it's nowhere explicitly stated that Beren gave the King back his ring, it's still there, unless contradicted. And lo and behold! in LB there is, it turns out, a marginal note in one of the manuscripts that at some point Finrod should give the ring back to Beren. —Disconcerting, but also a bit of a morale-lifter for a scriptwriter. Obviously it's my call here, but I think (hope) not implausible.
"vassal": this exchange isn't just here to clarify something that tends to be obscure to modern readers, especially fellow Yanks — there's a critical plot point going on here that gets borne out later, namely — when, why, and under what circumstances is it not only permissble but required to "betray" one's alliegiances, and is it even properly treason at that point? What legitimate mechanisms exist, morally speaking, to permit transfer or withdrawal of loyalties? So that one is not simply obligated to follow orders, however ethically unsupportable they may be, nor even permitted to "stand idly by and see injustice done"?
Because Huan can't simply leave Celegorm and follow Luthien because she's "the damsel in distress," nor help her and Beren against his lord because they're cooler people than the Sons of Feanor. He has too much character and integrity for that — nor, in fact, does he. It takes him a while to decide, remember?
This is the problem of Antigone, by-the-by, which is answered pretty definitely in the same way by Aeschylus: Justice and the general moral imperatives trump all earthly laws, and political obligations. Of course Huan's situation is even more complicated in that he's already disobeyed one divine mandate as less binding than an earlier one: by taking part in the flight of the Noldor, but given to Celegorm as liege-dog by Orome. Huan is a very angsty character, and the complicated development of the plot outline involving his decisions in the versions and notes to the story is well-worth considering. But more on this in Act III.
Here's where I really get going with the compare-contrast-equate business of Elven-Mortal/Modern-Archaic cultural assumptions. Again, I don't consider this counter-Canonical, simply interstitial — not that I ever consider anything of my supposing to be Canonical in the sense of reflecting The Professor's intentions (unless some obscure note discovered proves it so) but simply that I try to make things plausible as I render them in more detail — what happens in the "meanwhiles" and "elsewheres," is all.
The overwhelming material prosperity and high standard of living of Nargothrond is one thing I wish to convey, but another, which is in fact more significant even, is the difference between even our Age and society, and Elvendom — that is, the relative time-scales and the inability to get past them. (And yet — we tend to be rather isolated, don't we, both on a personal and national basis, the concerns of our own lives overriding the sense of what is happening elsewhere, until it comes home to us somehow…)
The fact that the last remaining companions of Beren in Dorthonion and the ten warriors of Nargothrond who accompanied Finrod into exile were all at the Fen of Serech is Canon. I've simply drawn out and made plain what is only implicit in the originals, yet perhaps all the more powerful for its subliminality: the realization of the parallels buried throughout — but only scarcely covered! — Silmarillion and HOME has been one of the unfolding delights of venturing into the regions I once thought of as arid background material…
Another is that the Fall of Nargothrond dates from this point — it takes a while for the collapse to become total, but the foundations are blasted in this time. And why not? It isn't just that Orodreth is not as good a ruler as his brother. The combined forces of expiation and revenge and the fact that morale and leadership have been repeatedly shaken are powerful factors in the actions of the Nargothronders at the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, and afterwards. Turin's coming is like the echo that starts the avalanche — but the careless climber didn't cause that buildup of thousands of tons of snowpack up above.
What about the gap left by the loss of those who went with the King? This is surely no small factor either. They would not have been nonentities, random losers whose absence would make no difference to the life of the City, to be able alone of all the realm to disregard the danger, the Oath, and the overwhelming popular opinion against them — though not all, necessarily, of high political rank or standing (no more than a certain gardener in another Age) and thus I have taken the artistic liberty of sketching roles for the Ten, "who had ever fought/wherever his banners had been brought", and whose names, unlike those of the Beorings, are not given, save one. This is not an accident, though what it says about Arda may be a little disconcerting: the Silmarillion is the Elven history of Middle-earth. —They know who they are.
"short enough": unlike Turin or Tuor, Beren is never once described as "tall" in any of the texts that I can remember. He is described in a note in HOME as taller than the norm for the Beorings, again an inheritance from his mother's Hador side with his lighter hair, but the fact that the other legendary heroes are as tall or taller than most Elves being so frequently mentioned leads me to think that Beren wasn't. Also, though this is not conclusive without a security tape of the event, the way the incident with Curufin trying to shoot Luthien plays out leads me to this as well — the angles could have been so as to contradict this, but with Curufin shooting to kill, I assume he's aiming for her heart, and when Beren jumps in front of her to take the arrow, he gets it in the shoulder. —Just another for the visual image of someone Totally Unsuitable For Her…
"summon kings": ObRef to the fact that Celebrimbor was vitally instrumental in the making of the Rings of Power, so important in the Third Age. —Sorry, I couldn't resist this one.
"cavalry": the Valinorean horses were brought over by Feanor's partisans in the stolen ships, and after the rescue of Maedhros and the reconciliation between the branches of the family, Maedhros ceded up a large number of their herd along with the overlordship of the Noldor to Fingolfin.
"Amrod-and-Amras": this is a reference to an obscure latter development in HOME where it's chronicled that Amras, the youngest of Feanor's sons, was lonely for Valinor and spent the night that they landed before marching on aboard one of the ships. Feanor decided to burn them lest any think of turning back, and forgot to do a head-count first. Yet in Silm. it is said that the twins stayed together in Middle-earth and ruled jointly over their region, and were finally killed in the same battle. Which story is true? Well, in a world that has Balrogs and Barrow-wights and the Grey Company, it doesn't have to be an "either/or" question... This also makes use of various HOME remarks on the possibility and effects of possession in Arda. I don't know that Beren's cousins were twins, too, but given that they do run in families and the sons of Elrond being twins, it's not a random interpolation.
The Legend of Beren the Outlaw, stated to have spread even into Elven lands:
"Danger he sought and death pursued
and thus escaped the doom he wooed,
and deeds of breathless daring wrought
alone, of which the rumor brought
new hope to many a broken man.
They whispered 'Beren', and began
in secret swords to whet, and soft
by shrouded hearths at evening oft
songs they would sing of Beren's bow,
of Dagmor his sword: how he would go
silent to camps and slay the chief,
or trapped in his hiding past belief
would slip away, and under night
by mist or moon, or by the light
of open day would come again.
Of hunters hunted, slayers slain
they sang, of Gorgol the Butcher hewn,
of ambush in Ladros, fire in Drûn,
of thirty in one battle dead,
of wolves that yelped like curs and fled,
yea, Sauron himself with wound in hand.
Thus one alone filled all that land
with fear and death for Morgoth's folk;
his comrades were the beech and oak
who failed him not, and wary things
with fur and fell and feathered wings
that silent wander, or dwell alone
in hill and wild and waste of stone
watched o'er his ways, his faithful friends."
LL2: The legends and ballads of Beren's heroic one-man stand against Morgoth are chroncicled in brief here, as well as the inspiring but ultimately useless effect they had on their hearers. Beren's sword is identified as bearing the name "Dagmor," which has to break down as "Dark Battle" [dag~, dagor = battle, mor~ dark/black] but which since only two swords actually of black metal are ever spoken of in Middle-earth, and their forging is a singular event (Turin's blade Anglachel, and its twin, by Eol) I assume that the name has the appropriate significance of "ambush" or "sneak attack" or "night fighting" or all of the three.
This is my play with the problem of canonicity, and which versions of a story are the "right" one — the changing and exaggerating of legends, the loss of some details and the inclusion of others. I recommend that everyone read JRRT's essay "On Fairy-stories" where he discusses this at some length in regard to the identification of various "legendary" stories with various historical figures, and what this means about human beings.
"wolfskin": concealing the out-of-place and distinctive smells of plastic and metal as well as breaking up outlines and killing reflections are very much concerns of modern hunters, and iron has an even stronger smell than steel. But it's also foreshadowing…
"mail that wouldn't rust": while Beren's hauberk is never explicitly said to be of mithril, it's described as dwarf-work and resistant to arrows and blows, and hence I think it a reasonable guess. As to where the House of Beor would have acquired Nogrod-manufactured armour, it seems obvious to me that it would have come from their liege lords. The circumstances are of my own devising, but not fabricated at random: I want to recall the facts of the Beorings' historical connection not with Finrod alone but with all his House, and the political ramifications thereof for the keeping of the Northern Boundaries. And assigning the gift to the Canonical deeding of Ladros — a province whose description is intensely evocative of the Highlands in Silm. — allows for a reminder of Third Age connections as well. Names no more than words come out of nowhere…everything's got a history.
One thing that is important and seems to be overlooked, perhaps as a consequence of taking the Geste in isolation from the rest of the history of the First Age, is how deep, in fact, the debt is that is owed to the House of Beor. There is this tendency I've noticed to look at it alternately as indeed I show Orodreth doing in the next scene, as a vastly disproportionate sacrifice — or as an example of irrational pride and devotion to an arrogant "honor" on Finrod's part. I hope I have succeeded in showing that it is a bit more complicated than that…Certainly the Elvish historians think so, at least.
"The sons of Finarfin bore most heavily the brunt of the assault, and Angrod and Aegnor were slain; beside them fell Bregolas lord of the house of Beor, and a great part of the warriors of that people. But Barahir the brother of Bregolas was in the fighting further westward, near to the Pass of Sirion. There King Finrod Felagund, hastening from the south, was cut off from his his people and surrounded with small company in the Fen of Serech; and he would have been slain or taken, but Barahir came up with the bravest of his men and rescued him, and made a wall of spears about him; and they cut their way out of the battle with great loss."
—Silmarillion, "Of the Ruin of Beleriand"
"Their names are yet in elven-song
remembered, though the days are long…
For these it was, the chosen men
of Beor's house, who in the fen
of reedy Serech stood at bay
about King Inglor in the day
of his defeat, and with their swords
thus saved of all the Elven-lords
(LL2: Inglor/Ingoldo are variants of Finrod's mother-name.)
Hathaldir is called "the young" in Silm., and hence like Beren for the reasons previously stated I have judged that likewise he (and perhaps others) might not actually been at Serech and yet still be part of the collective group, and known as one knows colleagues' family members by conversation. Beren's dogs are nowhere named, so I have given them traditionally-inspired mastiff names, but that he and his father had hounds, and loved them, and that he talked about them is Canon — Luthien discusses this with Huan during her enforced hospitality at Nargothrond later.
The fate of Beren's cousins, from LL2:
"since the black shaft with venomed wound
took Belegund and Baragund,
the mighty sons of Bregolas…"
"the Singers": though called the Nandor, the ones who turned back, by those who went on to Aman, the Green-Elves, or Laiquendi, of Ossiriand called themselves Lindar, and were known as the greatest of singers among all Elves, despite their primitive lifestyle and lack of sophistication. The connections and implications of the various ethnic tensions among Elven groups is deserving of a much longer exploration than I have time for here. (Thanks to Ardalambion for this piece of information.) But it is Canon that they were upset by the coming of the Beorings and asked Finrod to get these tree-killing people out of their territory, which of course is what happened — see Silm., "Of the Coming of Men into the West" for details. Later on, after the final meltdown of civilization in the First Age, there were "back-to-nature" movements among the surviving Elves and though merged with other elements, Green-Elven culture did become dominant once again, but none of that could have been predicted at this time.
High Faroth: According to some rescencions, in the very vague and indefinite hints of Beren and Luthien's second life, one of the places they stay for a time is this upland region — which puts a very eerie significance to Beren's Canonical sighting of it through the rainstorms.
Dungortheb: "not least among the deeds" of Beren, according to Silmarillion, and tremendously evoked in Canto III in flashback. But he wouldn't ever talk about it in detail, for the reason stated.
It's stated that there was never anywhere as beautiful as Menegroth, where Melian reigned, and which indeed was like a living woodland underground — not like a mortal palace at all. Although Finrod patterned Nargothrond on Thingol's city, it isn't said to be the same in its design, and I tend to think the "outdoors" elements of Menegroth would have appealed very much to Beren.
Taliska — the native language of the Beorings, of which a partial grammar is said to exist but has not ever been released. (Thanks again to Ardalambion for this information.) It might also be of interest to the reader that, according to a note in HOME, the only reason that any of it survived at all was due to the interest and efforts of Luthien: Beren didn't see any point in preserving the lore of a dead nation, when in his view Sindarin was a far more beautiful language. She, however, thought she ought to learn his as well, since she had given up on her home in turn. More of this in Act III, however.
"I saw this thing once" — this is a dead literal translation of the pattern that begins many of the great Anglo-Saxon Riddles, like the one about the Iceberg, which take some everyday thing and redefine it in mysterious terms which are nevertheless completely accurate. All three of these amplified kennings, however, are mine, so don't blame the Anglo-Saxons for any lapses here. But there really is a constellation in Arda called the Butterfly — Wilwarin — though your guess as to why Varda put it up is certainly as good as my own.
Ic þa wiht geseah on weg feran
I saw this thing on the wave faring
heo waes wraetlice wundrum gegierwed
it was well-wrought wonderfully crafted
wundor wearð on wege waeter wearð to bane
wonder went on waves water went to bone
—Exeter Book, Riddle LXVIII
chronometer: what use, really, would the agrarian frontier lifestyle of the Edain have for sophisticated metrical devices? But as Reall Cool Works of art, they have historically have had an appeal far outweighing any practical application. The one I have given Celebrimbor is inspired, ever so faintly, by the Great Clock of Wells Cathedral, where the Moon watches over all and knights joust and a messenger rings a bell — as well as by the latter inventions of clocks from the Renaissance and Baroque eras that look like palaces and fountains and wedding cakes and not like our mundane devices at all.
"that project of your grandfather's": ObRef to the story that Feanor created the palantiri — whether he actually made them, or simply designed them, is not certain. That they don't show up in Middle-earth until they're given by the Elves of Aman to the Numenoreans, is certain.
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