73. Notes - part II
Edrahil's explanation of their ghostly state as discussed and determined by the Noldor intelligentsia is actually a quick summation of the notion of the Forms, or Ideal Versions of Things, put forward in Platonic philosophy. (The phenomena they are attempting to explain also go along with classical mythology, and subsequent takes on the afterlife, but mostly with Graeco-Roman tradition. —Was Sysiphus rolling a real boulder in his punishment, or merely a virtual boulder? Regardless, it was "real" enough for living visitors to Hades to note and comment on it.)
As always, thanks are due to Ardalambion, for their easy-to-use online linguistic resources, allowing some creative use of vocabulary drills. (The ban on the use of Quenya in Beleriand proclaimed by Thingol would hardly be relevant to them at that point, regardless of ethnicity, given the terminal nature of their situation.) Beren's "cobbled-together" word Atandil means "mortal-friend," while Edrahil's retort, Atandur, indicating that he's just doing his job, signifies "mortal-servant." The reference to the "taste" of words is derived from the Quenya word lámatyávë or "sound-taste" which refers to an individual's sense of what words and combinations of sounds "feel right" when spoken aloud.
No, Edrahil's song isn't mine. I'm not that good: I just borrowed from a source very familiar to JRRT as well. (The grayed-out lines are those which I didn't include in the excerpt for this scene, and the ones in brackets are not my own translation.)
|Oft him anhaga are gebideð|
metudes miltse þeah þe he modcearig
geond lagulade longe sceolde
hreran mid hondum hrimcealde sae
wadan wræclastas wyrd bið ful aræd
swa cwæð eardstapa earfeða gemyndig
wraþra wælsleahta winemæga hryre
|['Often the solitary man enjoys|
The grace and mercy of the Lord, though he
Careworn has long been forced to stir by hand
The ice-cold sea on many waterways,
Travel the exile's path; fate is relentless.'
So spoke a wanderer who called to mind
Hardships and cruel wars and deaths of lords.]
|oft ic sceolde ana uhtna gehwylce|
mine ceare cwiþan nis nu cwircra nan
þe ic him modsefan minne durre
sweotule asecgan Ic to soþe wat
þæt biþ in eorle indryhten þeaw
þæt he his ferðlocan fæste binde
healde his hordcofan hycge swa he wille
Ne maeg werigmod wyrde wiðstondan
ne se hreo hyge helpe gefremman
for ðon domgeorne dreorigne oft
in hyra breostcofan bindað fæste
swa ic modsefan minne sceolde
oft earmcearig eðle bidæled
freomægum feor feterum sælan
siþþan geara iu goldwine minne
hrusan heolstre biwrah and ic hean þonan
wod wintercearig ofer waþema gebind
sohte sele dreorig sinces bryttan
hwær ic feor oþþe neah findan meahte
þone þe in meoduhealle min mine wisse
oþþe mec freondleasne frefran wolde
weman mid wynnum wat se þe cunnað
hu sliþen bið sorg to geferan
þam þe him lyt hafað leofra geholena
warað hine wræclast nales wunden gold
ferðloca freorig nalæs foldan blæd
gemon he selesecgas and sincþege
hu hine on geoguðe his goldwine
|-Oft should I, alone each dawn,|
my cares lament: now living is none
that I to him the mood of my heart
dare disclose. I know full well
that for a leader 'tis lordly strength
that he his locked counsels shall fastly bind,
hold close his coffered thought, howso other he would.
-No more may heartwearied Doom stand defying,
nor shall troubled musings bear with them help-
for they most earnest of others' respect, tears oft
in their breast's chamber shall bind away fast.
So should I oft my soul make safe-
beggared by care, bereft of my House,
far from my home - fettering my soul
since I left him, my lord gold-joyful, generous,
in earth's dark depths - and I unwillingly,
winterweary, was bound hither over the waves.
[And suffering sought the hall of a new patron]
Where might I find, living, friend or lord now
who shall in meadhall name me their own?
or my friendlessness would turn to friendship,
win me to joyfulness? -This do we know
how cruel a comrade is sorrow to him
whose true friends have all been taken,
wandering in exile - worthless the worked gold,
ice-cold his inmost thought, worthless the flowering fields.
[He calls to mind vreceiving gifts of treasure
And former hall retainers, and remembers
How in his younger years his lordly patron
Was wont to entertain him at the feast]/font>
|wenede to wiste wyn eal gedreas|
for þon wat se þe sceal his winedryhtnes
leofes larcwidum long forþolian
ðonne sorg and slæp somod ætgædre
earmne anhogan oft gebindað
þinceð him on mode þæthe his mondryhten
clyppe and cysse and on cneo lecge
honda and heafod swa he hwilum ær
in geardagum giefstoles breac
ðonne onwæcneð eft wineleas guma
gesihð him biforan fealwe wegas
baþian brimfuglas brædan feþra
hreosan hrim and snaw hagle gemenged
þonne beoð þy hefigran heortan benne
sare æftre swæsne Sorg bið geniwad
þonne maga gemynd mod geondhweorfeð
greteð gliwstafum georne geondsceawað
secga geselden swimmað oft on weg
fleotendra ferð no þær fela bringeð
cuðra cwidegiedda cearo bið geniewad
þam þe sendan sceal swiþe geneahhe
ofer waþema gebind werigne sefan
|He minds him ever ^how all joy is broken, |
for that he knows that his joyful lord
and his dear counsel shall long be forgoing:
then sorrow and sleep ever together
pitiful, solitary, oft are binding
him in mind that he his liege-lord
clasps and kisses and on knee lays
hand and head, as he did betimes,
vassal in spear-hall, at the gift-dealing-
yet, then awakened, the joyless man
sees before him the fallow waves,
bathing the seabirds, broad of wing,
as sleet and snow and hail fall mingled.
Then all the heavier be heart's wounds,
sorely yearning after. Sorrow's made new again,
when comrades in mind and thought return:
he greets, joyfilled, earnestly looks on them-
yet swiftly their souls swim oft away,
floating forth, nor bring their spirits
the cheerful harpsong. Cares are made new
to him that shall send ever anew
over waves binding the wearied soul.
|for þon ic geþencan ne mæg geond þas woruld|
for hwan modsefa min ne gesweorce
þonne ic eorla lif eal geondþence
hu hi færlice flet ofgeafon
modge maguþegnas swa þes middangeard
ealra dogra gehwam dreaoseð and fealleþ
for þon ne mæg weorþan wis wer ær he age
wintra dæl in woruldrice Wita sceal geþyldig
ne sceal no to hatheort ne to hrædwyrde
ne to wac wiga ne to wanhydig
ne to forht ne to fægen ne to feohgifre
ne næfre gielpes to georn ær he geare cunne
Beorn sceal gebidan þonne he beot spriceð
oþ þæt collenferð cunne gearwe
hwider hreþra gehygd hweorfan wille
|For this I may not in this world think|
of aught that my heart might darken not
when I name noble lives all gone thence,
[how they suddenly have left their hall]
brave horsemen and vassals. So Middle-earth
and all upon it daily fades and fails.
For this a warrior may not name him wise
who has not dwelt winters in that worlds-realm.
[A wise man must be patient, not too hasty
in speech, or passionate, impetuous
or timid as a fighter, nor too anxious
or carefree or too covetous of wealth;
Nor ever must he be too quick to boast
Before he's gained experience of himself
A man should wait, before he makes a vow,
Until in pride he truly can assess
How, when a crisis comes, he will react]
|ongietan sceal gleaw hæle hu gæstlic bið|
þonne eall þisse worulde wela weste stondeð
swa nu missenlice geond þisne middangeard
winde biwaune weallas stondaþ
hrime bihrorene hryðge þa ederas
woriað þa winsalo waldendlicgað
dreame bidrorene duguð eal gecrong
wlonc by wealle sume wig fornom
ferede in forðwege sumne fugle oþbær
ofer heanne holm sumne se hara wulf
deaðe gedælde sumne dreorighleor
in eorðscræfe eorl gehydde
|-Such a one knows how soul-shaking shall be|
when all this world's wealth stands bestrewn
as now likewise upon Middle-earth
the wind bewails where walls are standing
ice-enameled, ruined the fortresses,
fallen the wine-halls, [monarchs lifeless lie
deprived of pleasures,] dead the defenders,
lying by walls. Some the war took from us,
faring in faroff ways: that one fed the carrion fowl
far from harbour, to that one the ice-grey wolf
dealt out death, - that one the faithful friend
hid in earthen grave, mourning for lord.
There is a lot more of this poem which I haven't translated or transcribed, but which is well-worth reading, as it contains, for example, the lines "where now the horse, where now the rider?" and other trenchant meditations on hubris, mortality, and the transience of status and good fortune.
This is among other things an homage to the great swashbucklers of the 1930's: The Prisoner of Zenda, Robin Hood, Captain Blood, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and all the rest of those films which managed to combine action, adventure, romance, drama, intrigue, special effects, great costuming, superb cinematography and well-turned dialogue, products of an art which appears to be largely lost these days.
Gower's speech reflects the frequent comparison of true love as more permanent than the sturdiest earthly monuments, both in essence and in memory, such as stone buildings and cast bronze statues, in Shakespeare's sonnets, q.v. the Notes to Act III. The addition of trees is a recognition of the culture of Arda.
the Loom: much of what I have done in this Act is based on the following statement:
"Vairë the Weaver is his spouse, who weaves all things that have ever been in Time into her storied webs, and the Halls of Mandos that ever widen as the ages pass are clothed with them." (Silm., "Valaquenta.")
But it is often overlooked that Aulë is patron of weavers and embroiderers as well as smiths and artisans, and co-patron (with Yavanna, naturally) of farmers. (Silm., "Of the Beginning of Days.") Into his purview fall the arts-and-crafts, and the abstract sciences as well as the applied ones, and we are told that he and Melkor had most in common, and there was an intense rivalry stemming from Melkor's unwillingness to acknowledge anyone else his equal — but Aulë's efforts are all creative, and not destructive. (Silm., "Valaquenta")
Since it is also under his aegis that the Noldor invented and refined letters, there is a happy fusion of interests in Vairë's living-history recording project, and I consider it not unlikely at all that Aulë would have both been involved in the creation of it, and that at the counsels of the Valar their interaction would have taken the form of oblivious tech-speech, impenetrable to outsiders…
"the last crisis" — i.e. the flight of the Noldor. Not a chance reference.
The decorative flames are present because the effects of light and water feature in Tolkien's writing (q.v. Gandalf's fireworks in Hobbiton) — and also in a dark-humored allusion to LOTR:TTT, "The Passage of the Marshes."
That Angrod and Aegnor were well-known to Lúthien follows naturally from their visits to Menegroth to see Galadriel. That she would be severely put out with them for harassing Beren at such a time (or any other) is probably an understatement.
"Black is the color" — this traditional English folksong has already appeared earlier in Act III; see earlier notes for its relevance.
Irmo, being (along with Estë his wife — note that the Powers nearly always work in pairs) the Maia principally concerned with healing and spiritual understanding, was both the Power into whose care Miriel was given — and, one might assume, most deeply affected by their inability to save her from her suicidal depression.
Tilion: the pilot of the Moon, and doubtless the source of the expression "mooning about someone," as his hopeless, unrequited love for Arien, the pilot of the Sun, and their non-romance a subject of the chronicles — and for good-natured teasing, as is shown in the lore of the Shire, q.v. LOTR:FOTR, "At the Sign of the Prancing Pony." His intense psychic bond with the late Tree Telperion together with his defensive skills as a hunter made him the obvious choice for the job, as Arien's own communing with Laurelin and her combination of fearlessness and intelligence made her the automatic choice for hers; but Tilion's efforts to impress Arien by racing her and continued attempts to hang out with her, regardless of her own wishes, combined with his easy distractibility, have had a strong negative impact
on his performance. The question of replacing him has not been recorded as coming up, however.
Eöl: It's highly unlikely that anyone outside Gondolin would know about this situation, (q.v. Act III) given the isolation of the City — and given his previously-displayed behavior, I doubt very much that he would have suddenly changed his ways merely by virtue of being dead. It's all too easy to imagine him demanding his wife back from the Lord of the Halls in the same way that he challenged the Noldor lords in Beleriand…
Beren's recognition of Irmo reflects the fact that in life, he has had a "prophetic dream," the warning of danger which preceded the dream-vision message given to him by Gorlim.
Bereg: the "black sheep" of the Bëorings, he has been mentioned earlier in Act II, and was the one who, together with Amlach of House Marach, convulsed the early Edain with a dramatic rift. (It also seems plausible that Sauron, or another minion, was involved in the scandal — but I tend to think Sauron myself, not simply because of the apt symmetry, but also because the message was entirely in the style of his later successful efforts to seduce Númenor.) Here, because it is so pertinent, is the story in full, taken from Silm., "Of the Coming of Men into the West":
But many Men remained in Estolad, and there was still a mingled people living there long years after, until in the ruin of Beleriand they were overwhelmed or fled back into the East. For beside the old who deemed that their wandering days were over, there were not a few who desired to go their own ways, and they feared the Eldar and the light of their eyes; and then dissensions awoke among the Edain, in which the shadow of Morgoth may be discerned, for certain it is that he knew of the coming of Men into Beleriand and of their growing friendship with the Elves.
The leaders of discontent were Bereg of the house of Bëor, and Amlach, one of the grandsons of Marach; and they said openly: 'We took long roads, desiring to escape the perils of Middle-earth and the dark things that dwell there; for we heard that there was Light in the West. But now we learn that the Light is beyond the Sea. Thither we cannot come where the Gods dwell in Bliss. Save one; for the Lord of the Dark is here before us, and the Eldar, wise but fell, who make endless war upon him. In the North he dwells, they say, and there is the pain and death from which we fled. We will not go that way.'
Then a council and assembly of Men was called, and great numbers came together. And the Elf-friends answered Bereg, saying: 'Truly from the Dark King come all the evils from which we fled; but he seeks dominion over all Middle-earth, and whither now shall we turn and he will not pursue us? Unless he be vanquished here, or at least held in leaguer. Only by the valour of the Eldar is he restrained, and maybe it was for this purpose, to aim them at need, that we were brought into this land."
To this Bereg answered: 'Let the Eldar look to it! Our lives are short enough.' But there arose one who seemed to all to be Amlach son of Imlach, speaking fell words that shook the hearts of all who heard him: 'All this is but Elvish lore, tales to beguile newcomers that are unwary. The Sea has no shore. There is no Light in the West. You have followed a fool-fire of the Elves to the end of the world! Which of you has seen the least of the Gods? Who has beheld the Dark King in the North? Those who seek the dominion of Middle-earth are the Eldar. Greedy for wealth they have delved in the earth for its secrets and have stirred to wrath the things that dwell beneath it, as they have ever done and ever shall. Let the Orcs have the realm that is theirs, and we will have ours. There is room enough in the world, if the Eldar will let us be!"
Then those that listened sat for a while astounded, and a shadow of fear fell on their hearts; and they resolved to depart far from the lands of the Eldar. But afterwards Amlach returned among them, and denied that he had been present at their debate or had spoken such words as they reported; and there was doubt and bewilderment among Men. Then the Elf-friends said: 'You will now believe this at least: there is indeed a Dark Lord, and his spies and emissaries are among us; for he fears us, and the strength that we may give to his foes.'
But some still answered: 'He hates us, rather, and ever the more the longer we dwell here, meddling in his quarrel with the Kings of the Eldar, to no gain of ours.' Many therefore of those that yet remained in Estolad made ready to depart; and Bereg led a thousand of the people of Bëor away southwards, and they passed out of the songs of those days. But Amlach repented, saying: 'I now have a quarrel of my own with this Master of Lies, which will last to my life's end'; and he went away north and entered the service of Maedhros. But those of his people who were of like mind with Bereg chose a new leader, and they went back over the mountains into Eriador, and are forgotten.
"seen your father angry" — this is a reference to Galadriel's brothers getting thrown out of Menegroth upon the revelation of the Kinslaying and their prolonged silence on the subject. (Silm., "Of the Noldor in Beleriand") I've taken the (minor) liberty of assuming that they visited, like any proper heads-of-state in peace time, with an entourage, and that this royal train might well include high-ranking members of the court. Given that one of the Lay outlines speaks of the words of power being "wrung" from Sauron, this is an accurate guess on his part.
"What does he know about fire?" — this is referring to the fact that the Maia known to history as (among many other things) Olórin is in fact a fire-spirit, but one who "walked among them unseen, or in form as one of them." (Silm., "Valaquenta: Of the Valar.")
"ere Tilion's embarcation" — a reference to the dark deserted streets between the Flight and the Moon, as for that time (which may have extended for several years duration, though I am not certain of the chronology there) that the orbiters were under construction there was no natural light source in Arda except for the stars. This is a fact which, together with its full implications, seems to escape notice frequently, when the cataclysm is considered — which should not be the case. (It is admittedly difficult for those of us who have never experienced a cataclysmic natural darkness, such as following a volcanic explosion, during a blizzard, or in a hurricane, or even the perfectly-natural and brief one of a full solar eclipse, to do so — I myself have only ever experienced a 3/4 solar eclipse, which was extremely strange — but it needs to be attempted, or else the magnitude of the disaster of the Treeslaying, and the concommitant psychological disruption and effect on the populace, will continue to elude the reader.
And yes, this would be a very raw bit of guilt-tripping, too.
Amarië: yes, one more "yes" answer to an either-or question: that of whether or not she and Finrod were married at the time of the Darkening of Valinor. In at least one place, she is referred to as his wife; but elsewhere, as in the published Silm., it seems as though they were not. The idea that that they might have gotten as far as exchanging public vows and rings, in keeping with Valinorean tradition, but not as far as the actual physical consecration of those vows, neatly allows for a gray area in which, depending on how one looks at it, they could be considered married, or equally, not. At any rate, they were definitely committed to each other, and so of course any apparent or actual rejection and betrayal is going to be infinitely worse…
jilting: this also serves as a nod to the Border Ballad tradition, "Young Lochinvar" and so forth, and the Scottish romances so popular beginning in the 19th century, though some of the atmosphere also harkens to the Icelandic sagas. That there would have been such strife among the Bëorings from time to time is implicit in the following passage:
"But it was said afterwards among the Eldar that when Men awoke in Hildórien at the rising of the Sun the spies of Morgoth were watchful, and tidings were soon brought to him, and this seemed to him so great a matter that secretly under shadow he himself departed from Angband, and went forth into Middle-earth, leaving to Sauron the command of the War. Of his dealings with Men the Eldar indeed knew nothing, at that time, and learnt but little afterwards; but that a darkness lay upon the hearts of Men (as the shadow of the Kinslaying and the Doom of Mandos lay upon the Noldor) they perceived clearly even in the people of the Elf-friends whom they first knew. To corrupt or destroy whatsoever arose new and fair was ever the chief desire of Morgoth; and doubtless he had this purpose also in his errand: by fear and lies to make Men the foes of the Eldar, and bring them up
out of the east against Beleriand…" (Silm., "Of the Coming of Men into the West")
Tafl, the game I have used as "mortal chess" in Act II, also called cyningstane (kingstone), has simpler rules and more difficult play than what we think of as chess today. (And yes, chess did exist in Middle-earth, or some board-game translatable to "chess," at least, as Gandalf refers to it in LOTR:ROTK, "Minas Tirith," saying to Pippin, "The board is set, and the pieces are moving…But the Enemy has the move, and he is about to open his full game. And pawns are likely to see as much of it as any…" This doesn't of course guarantee that it existed in the First Age, but it gives me some warrant, at least, beyond mere probability.)
The reason for its presence and emphasis here is not only continuity with the earlier parts of the Script: it will become clearer, but the secret of tafl is that it embodies the "song of staying" described in LL1, Canto VII. If you haven't read the Lay of Leithian fragments yet — what are you waiting for?
No, Elu wasn't acting on his own — this was a well-discussed and collective solution to the Lúthien problem, and she's justifiably angry at everyone who was involved, either actively or tacitly, by not standing up for her.
"In angry love and half in fear
Thingol took counsel his most dear
to guard and keep…"
I have moreover made the presumption that the emissaries sent to Himring to demand restitution and help in finding Lúthien from Maedhros would include some of the most senior of the kingdom's counsellors.
kingstone: one of the several ways that tafl or cyningstane differs from modern chess is that you take as many pieces as are bracketed by your troops, like the games Othello or Pente.
The question of what — had not the Bragollach intervened — Beren's adult career would have looked like is an interesting one. Recall that he was not in immediate line for the headship of House Bëor, being only the son of the lord's younger brother — and the lord himself having two sons of his own, both of whom had children of their own. Being so far down the line for "the throne" it's highly likely that he would have followed in his father's path as a military commander, serving at the Leaguer, under the aegis of the Princes. What his life would have been like outside that duty is more complicated. We are told that he was born different from other Men, "in a charméd hour," and was from the beginning attuned to the wilderness in a way far from normal, which had the beneficial effect of making him the most successful hunter around — a skill highly valued in a non-industrialized society, agrarian or not — as well as allowing him to survive a war-zone situation which would have destroyed anyone else. But this "otherness" might have made it difficult to fit in completely comfortably with his fellow mortals, lordly house or not, even as his future kinsman Tuor found it difficult to fully adjust to civilization after living a nomadic, outdoors lifestyle for so long. It's entirely possible — even probable — that he might well have ended up (given the existence of older, able cousins to help keep order in Dorthonion) eventually going off to follow the King, even as did his ancestor Bëor, and might have ended his days as peacefully in Nargothrond, serving as a Ranger there and learning the arts of music from Elvish masters.
"doesn't look like" a Bëoring: this remark is a comment on Beren's atypical appearance, the fact that he was a bit taller than was typical and had blue eyes and sandy-blond hair — perfectly legitimately, since his mother was a near relative of Hador "the Golden.".
The fact that Ingold, meaning "Wise," is Finrod's mother-name, taken together with the fact that amilessi are believed to be prophetic,makes the fact that the Bëorings, who were initially convinced that he was one of the Valar they were seeking, subsequently conferred on him the name Nóm, which also means "Wisdom," particularly interesting. (Silm., "Of
the Coming of Men into the West.")
That Mablung was distraught at Beren's death is found in Silm., (since most unfortunately the extant fragmentary Lay itself does not go so far) where it is said that "Mablung and Beleg came hastening to the King's aid, but when they looked upon what was done they cast aside their spears and wept."
For the purposes of providing a different perspective on life before the cataclysm in Valinor, I have, as is now revealed, made the Captain and his family to have been faithful retainers of Finarfin's House, and not formerly of any great influence or renown, save among their own organization and friends. The idea that his sister also might be a huntress, goes automatically with the consideration of who in a great household might be Galadriel's handmaid, and what favored pursuits, given that lady's attested "amazon disposition" and her cousin Aredhel's delight in hunting. One might think of them not as, in those days, merely a gracious court of poets and musicians like Eleanor of Aquitaine's, but also like Diana and her maidens and favoured hunters — or indeed that medieval Queen and her contemporaries — riding far and wide with bow and spear exuberantly through the woods of Aman.
The Steward, on the other hand, is now shown to have come from a much "higher station" initially than his friend, and not the nearly co-equal status they now possess, from a much more "typical" Noldor background, and from a much more stressful family situation as a result. (Note that nobody has any doubt that rebel or not, the Captain's relatives will welcome him back with rejoicing, while his friend is not sure he still has a home to go back to.) By assigning him to the following of Mahtan, he is in a perfect position to be completely torn between parents who expect him to become a great artist — in the visual arts, and his own musical yearnings, pulling him equally towards the more skilled and prestigious grandson of Mahtan, and his much-junior, less-renowned, but far more congenial cousin and his multi-ethnic family. Which latter friendship itself will strain ingrained assumptions and snobberies to the breaking point, ultimately, but not without a great deal of personal turmoil in the meantime.
"The Terrible" — I don't think it as unlikely as some authorities that Sauron would himself employ the name by which he was known in Middle-earth, in any of the forms of it (Thû, Gorthaur) throughout history, since he was, after all, the leading commander of a dictator, viceroy left in charge of the war in his soveriegn's absence, sent out to pacify insurgent regions, sieze key strategic positions, and deal with troublesome rebels. Being known as "the abhorred one" or "the dreadful" isn't an image problem for a warlord, really — or as the ancient saw goes, "Let them hate, so long as they fear me."
The notion of some sort of casting of lots derives initially from the mere fact that of the twelve captives, Beren and Finrod were left for last — and is validated not by a line of the authors, but by the crossing out of a line. In the outlines, it says:
"…they come upon the werewolves, and the host of Thû Lord of Wolves. They are taken before Thû, and after a contest of riddling questions and answers are revealed as spies, but Beren is taken as a Gnome, and that Felagund is King of Nargothrond remains hidden. They are placed in a deep dungeon. Thû desires to discover their purpose and real names and vows death, one by one, and torment to the last one, if they will not reveal them. From time to time a great werewolf
and in another draft,
"They go and seek to break into Angband disguised as Orcs, but are captured
The combination of these facts, one positive, one subtractive — the removal of the line which states that he wondered when his own time would come — strongly indicates that it was no accident that Beren outlives the Ten. The idea of a form of lot-casting, for fairness, follows from that not unnaturally; the idea of a verbal form comes from the technical difficulties of drawing lots while immobilized and in complete darkness, and the fact that in the Elvish languages, as in many earthly ones, the same characters were used for numbers as for letters. And, of course, a system that works by the choosing of letters whose order of precedence depends on a word as yet unannounced by the leader could be foiled by someone able to guess, or know, what that word was going to be.
Beren's complaint about the seeming-uselessness of everything when the end result of all good intentions and works is the same defeat and destruction is a very trenchant one, and not unrelated to the objection put forward by the Lord of the Halls to his own King as related in Silm., "Of the Sun and Moon," when the idea that good may ultimately result from it is put forward in answer.
The interactions between Finarfin and the Captain reflect the problem that all the Noldor had lives before, and knew each other, and not only marriages and families would have been broken in the Flight, but also friendships and working relationships — so, now what? It should be pretty clear now that for the most part, the Host of the Noldor were a bunch of rebellious young kids who ran away to sea to seek their fortunes, even if they thought they were completely competent and quite able to take care of themselves, in any situation they might encounter. And to a large degree they did, and were, and to a greater degree they weren't, and trying to establish a new set of ground rules and boundaries for all of them in their interactions now would,
I think, be one heck of a challenge.
Enedrion: this is the name given to the foremost follower who insists that a successor must be publicly acclaimed before their exile from Nargothrond in the Grey Annals, where elsewhere the name Edrahil is given, the latter being the form which Christopher Tolkien went with for the published version of Silm. I am not being merely equivocal in my Elvish answer of "yes" to the question of which one is correct: following
the form established for naming conventions, Enedrion is a patronym, not a proper name, so both may be quite true. Enedrion itself seems
as if it must derive back to Enedir, which breaks down to something like "the world's bright center," but this is only a conjecture on my part,
for the purpose of more easily illustrating the prior, present, and changing social situations in post-cataclysm Aman.
Edrahil's making a virtue of necessity and putting a different cast on the strictures of Mandos (which are based in part on the old idea that the summoned dead must speak the truth) to take the moral high ground against Finarfin in their clash is technically called "mental reservation," and is the reason why witnesses in court are adjured to tell "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." (Emphasis mine.) How far this form of ommiting can be stretched in various circumstances while remaining within ethical bounds is a matter for much debate, revolving around motivation and the moral authority of the questioner; the u>advisability of doing so is a different problem entirely.
Araman: "Above-Aman," that region of sub-arctic tundra where the marching Host of the Noldor and the accompanying Fëanorians aboard the surviving ships were told to cease-and-desist and return to face justice for the Kinslaying, by it is believed, the Doomsman himself, speaking for Manwë. (Silm., "Of the Flight of the Noldor.") The fact that there is some doubt about this is also interesting. Finarfin turned back, with a minority of his followers; the rest continued, with Finrod and Galadriel
emerging as the de facto leaders of the March.
Nerdanel: this Noldor lady, coming from a high lineage in her own right, her family being distinguished for its close connections with Aulë (as well as their unique auburn hair), is one of the more tragic characters in this series of "dark and difficult legends." Fëanor her husband studied with her father, the master-smith Mahtan; she was an sculptress equally capable of extreme realism and flights of abstract art. They had seven children, the largest known family among the Eldar, to whom "she bequeathed her mood" only in part, and only to some, they taking after their father for the rest, unfortunately for the world. We are told that she was wise, and the only person who could reach Fëanor and get through to him to make him see sense in his paranoia — but that eventually he stopped listening to her as well, something which would appear to correlate with his increasing attentiveness to then-Melkor.
She, however, unlike the vast majority of the Noldor, was not swayed by his charisma against her better judgment and when he stopped heeding her counsel, she went her own ways. Even before their separation, this independence was demonstrated in her friendship with her husband's step-mother, a sign of open-mindedness as well as autonomy, (but which undoubtedly made Finwë's son conclude that everyone was out to get him, that his father's second wife had succeeded in taking even his own wife's loyalty away from him — instead of judging, as a reasonable person would, that perhaps since even Nerdanel liked her, Indis might not be a totally worthless person after all.) After the Flight of the Noldor, Nerdanel moved in with her mother-in-law, and that is the situation which we find at present.
She is also possessed of a certain degree of the Sight, and while trying to convince Fëanor to leave at least the two youngest children behind,
while he in turn dared her to prove her love for the family by joining them in the Flight, warned him that one of them at least would never make it to Middle-earth regardless — which foretelling is borne out in the story that their youngst son was sleeping on board the ships from homesickness when Fëanor burned them to prevent defections and forestall any chance of competition from his other relatives in Middle-earth.
So I have tried to show her as wise, independent-minded, indomitable, and an artist/technocrat, as she is described in the various source texts — "firm of will, but more patient than Fëanor, desiring to understand minds rather than to master them" — and someone with a tremendous burden of sorrow, who still keeps going and uses her own experiences to help her in that quest to understand others (which is a significant component of wisdom, after all.)
Her presence comes from the need to have a foil worthy to match words with Finrod from among those who remained behind, but not as closely or as personally tied to him, with the attendant emotional complications — obviously, it would not be possible to find anyone among the great houses of the Eldar with no connections to the Finarfinions! That is, she can say things that Finarfin and Amarië can't, won't, or won't say without a discrediting overlay of resentment and anger.
heresy: this is a reference to the cosmic reinterpretation of existence which occurs to Finrod in, as he believes it to be, a prophetic vision of the Eschaton, as related in the "Athrabeth" (of which more later) — and since it goes directly against everything previously believed by the Eldar about their own limited nature and confinement to the Circles of the World, both in dimension and duration, for the existence of Arda, and since it's being put forward by someone whose standing is dubious at best, I can't imagine it would be particularly well-received, especially at first — but by the same token, it would certainly be highly-controversial in the time before people in Valinor at least became used to the notion enough to include it as a possible alternative in "Ainulindalë," where it appears in the following lines (emphasis mine):
"Never since have the Ainur made any music like to this music,
though it has been said that a greater still shall be made before
Ilúvatar by the choirs of the Ainur and the Children of Ilúvatar
after the end of days.
Then the themes of Ilúvatar shall be played aright, and take Being
in the moment of their utterance, for all shall then understand fully
his intent in their part, and each shall know the comprehension of each,
and Ilúvatar shall give to their thoughts the secret fire, being well pleased."
There, in a nutshell, is the entire notion of Arda Envinyanta, the idea that the universe will be made new again, and the still-more radical notion that all the Children will help by contributing in its creation, not just the celestial demiurges. That phrase "though it has been said" when examined carefully reveals one thing and raises the question of another: that the scribe setting down their mythology in the "Ainulindalë" had some doubts about the matter, personally — and who, exactly, was it who was saying this, now? Working "within the fiction," I can imagine Pengolod going over the traditions and writings of Rumil, and thinking to himself in some great library in Tirion, "It all seems so very orderly and rational…but then there are those strange ideas that Turgon's cousin has put forward, which also sound so compelling when you hear him. Of course he's quite mad, but…"
"—Yes, but I'm right, too" says Finrod genially, replacing a borrowed scroll. And the scribe shakes his head, and keeps writing… (The idea that complete, unrestricted communication is at least in part the key to universal peace and harmony also should not be too surprising, given The Professor's great love of languages.)
launching the Sun: the processes by which Aulë and his followers, Eldar and Ainur, built the celestial orbiters out of the remnants of the Trees' life-energies and got them airborne (a process which some texts suggest took several of what would be later reckoned as years, which is not entirely unreasonable for getting a space-program going from scratch, even for demiurges) is literally unimaginable and at the same time intriguing beyond description — and must have been an incredibly fraught process, given that there wasn't any alternative to fall back on, if they blew it. The passages which describe that first lift-off, even seen from a vast distance, and its potent results, are among the grandest in the whole mythos.
"traditional methods" — these being of course riddles, chess (or dice) matches, and three questions, all of which are fraught and not exactly the sort of information-sources one can well rely on.
Couplesday, sixes: I wanted to point out several facts here: that on the one hand some Mannish culture and traditions survived, even after the Edain were so long and greatly influenced by the Eldar, and that on the other hand such basic things as counting systems and words for reckoning can indicate cultural differences. Beren, being not only mortal but Bëoring, which is to say, belonging to the tribe "most like to" the High-elves in thought, is actually fairly flexible in his thinking, as well as possessed of a very Elvish curiosity, however untrained and rustic his mind may be, due to the disadvantages of his civilization getting obliterated in his youth. (The exact words are "eager of mind, cunning-handed, swift in understanding, long in memory, and moved sooner to pity than laughter" — Silm., "Of the Coming of Men Into the West.") He can step outside, to a great extent, his own limited experience, and consider it, and others, abstractly — which will come to the fore as the Act unfolds.
Another thing to consider is the distilling or filtering effect which the accidents of history have in what words and systems become common usage, and which are forgotten or left behind. One thing which must have been the case is that a different set of names for the days of the week would have been used before the Darkening, as the current Elvish system used in one form or another throughout Middle-earth reflects that event, memorializing the Trees in their own day, and commemorating the Sun and Moon in others. And, in fact, poking about in the Etymologies (HOME:LR) proves this to be true. "Couplesday" was the day dedicated, interestingly enough, Aulë and Yavanna, as joint patrons of matrimony. (This makes me wonder if they were perhaps the first of the Valar to pair off, while the two most powerful brothers were both courting Varda and Tulkas was still a nobody.)
However, in the First Age, and especially given the separation of the different fiefdoms and domains across Beleriand, it is entirely possible that some of the Noldor would have continued to use the old calendar, and that the new system developed slowly — or even that it was a Valinorean creation of the Eldar there, and only brought to Middle-earth in after years. Or it might well have been, given the progress of events, the one in use in Gondolin, which through its peculiar mix of colonists, their preservation of Quenya lore, and the subsequent consolidation of the surviving refugee populations under the predominance of its ruling family, had a strong and lasting influence on the cultures which followed in Middle-earth. Just as the months and day-names we use today are similar to, and related to, those used in Roman times, but not identical, it's possible that the systems Beren was familiar with were not the same as those employed in the Second and Third Ages, either.
salt: the equation of that mineral and honesty — often unwelcome — is to be found elsewhere than in the New Testament: it shows up, for instance, in the folk version of King Lear (happy ending) where the virtuous princess compares her filial piety not, as her sisters do, to honey or expensive spices, but to the humble, bitter-tasting condiment. This refusal to play the game of course wins her only exile, a fate which is karmically returned upon her unwise parent. When at long last her impoverished father arrives on the doorstep of the kingdom her wisdom and goodness have won for her, she commands the household to prepare every dish without salt. When he complains about the revolting blandness of it, and comments on the need for something to give the meal savour, the recognition of both the value of directness and the survival of his faithful daughter overwhelm the old, exiled king in a very emotional reunion.
Finarfin learning the complete story of his son's Doom only now does not only serve as a source of angst and emotional drama, but is intended to point up not only the questions of communication, and whence information, and when — but also how much any decision, action, and speech is founded in that present, limited knowledge, and how it may take on new, possibly horrifying, significance in the light of subsequent revelations.
Aredhel & Eöl: if Saeros/Orgof, provoking Turin from malice, was due many centuries in Mandos to reflect and grow beyond his arrogance (LB, "The Lay of the Children of Húrin," Canto I ) then certainly Eöl would merit no less. Aredhel is of course under the Doom of the Noldor. What the two of them would have been doing over the past decades, and if they would have made any psychological progress or not, is anyone's guess.
galvorn: the black alloy that Eöl invented and used for his own special lightweight suit of armor (Silmarillion, "Of Maeglin") — which, however, did not protect him from the vengeance of his wife's kinsmen after her killing. (It is amusing, but not particularly likely, to think that it might have been an early form of kevlar.)
Kinslayer: it is again mere conjecture that Aredhel was also (like Fingon) in the forefront, and joined in the attack on Alqualondë out of a misconception that the Teleri had attacked first (hence the lines "tragic misunderstanding"); but I have based it on her documented long-standing friendship and spiritual affinity for the sons of Fëanor, principally
Curufin and Celegorm.
armour: this is yet another dual eference, to Aredhel's fate, daring to face down her alienated spouse without any protection other than injured dignity and righteous wrath, and the presence of guards, none of which are sufficient to cope with the suicidally-violent (as retold in Silm., "Of Maeglin,") — and to LOTR:FOTR, "The Ring Goes South," with Bilbo's giving of his mithril vest to Frodo, to be worn secretly under the outer garments, thereby saving the life of the wearer.
The Captain's remark concerning the making of weapons in secret refers to the events related in Silm., "Of the Silmarils," where it is told that:
"…when Melkor saw these lies were smouldering, and that pride and anger were awake among the Noldor, he spoke to them concerning weapons; and in that time the Noldor began the smithying of swords and axes and spears. Shields also they made displaying the tokens of many houses and kindreds that vied with
one another; and these only they wore abroad, and of other weapons they did not speak, for each believed that he alone had received the warning. And Fëanor made a secret forge, of which not even Melkor was aware, and there he tempered fell swords for himself and for his sons, and made tall helms with plumes of red. Bitterly did Mahtan rue the day when he taught to the husband of Nerdanel
all the lore of metalwork that he had learned of Aulë."
threnody: a sad or melancholy song; a dirge. This and similar obscure musical terms are a semi-humorous answer to the question of what the gods might swear by.
"avenged upon the lot of you" — an ObRef to Twelfth Night, where a humorless control-freak is made the target of an elaborate comic revenge plot, and vows at the end to get his own back as he storms off in high-dudgeon.
The idea that the more-warlike Powers might practice fighting to keep up their skills and in hopes of a rematch with Morgoth and his minions, however unlikely such a chance might seem to them at present, doesn't seem too far-fetched to me. There is, however, a world of difference between being champion of the All-Valinor Valarin Fencing Club and having successfully fought for one's life — and others — for over four centuries.
Ringil: the name of Fingolfin's blade is found first in LL1, Canto XII:
"Fingolfin like a shooting light
beneath a cloud, a stab of white,
sprang then aside, and Ringil drew
like ice that gleameth cold and blue,
his sword devised of elvish skill
to pierce the flesh with deadly chill.
With seven wounds it rent his foe,
and seven mighty cries of woe
rang in the mountains…"
in which it is also told that Grond was the name of Morgoth's mace, the war-hammer of the underworld — a name that will infamously return to haunt Middle-earth again. (It is, I should say, a signal of how much superior the technology of First Age Noldor artisans was to subsequent levels of smithing, that the High King's weapon is recorded as having wounded Morgoth eight times, (on the final stroke permanently laming him), without losing its strength, whereas the Númenórean blade wielded against the Captain of the Nazgûl dissolves on contact with the Ringwraith, as Aragorn indeed had warned would happen should such a stroke occur.)
"By your Lady" — in keeping with the swashbuckling theme, a turn on the medieval exclamation frequently encountered in the old Robin Hood stories, "By'r [Our] Lady," adapted for Arda.
"Endless Whirlwind" — a Dante ObRef, to the circle outside the Inferno proper, where the traveler meets famous lovers from history who destroyed themselves for the sake of each other, there swept in a continuous tumult like leaves on the wind, always together and never at rest.
The conflicts, large and little, which are apparent or implicit in the Geste are all stated and expounded in this Scene, and given context, hence its length.
Gower's words invoke not only the frequent references to truth vs. "sooth" in Shakespeare's writings, and the difficult valuing of honesty and directness set against the popularity of flattery, and the ease of self-deception ("When my love swears that she is made of truth/I do believe
her, though I know she lies…") but also revelations of the devastating kind (often inadvertently-so) like the final words of Mablung to Túrin which moved the latter to self-execution.
The Wassail Song: this Yuletide carol is the "Gloucestershire Wassail," which is datable back to the 1700s but in melodic feel sounds much older, due to its smooth linear progressions and mellow intervals, which resemble those of prior centuries like "Lo How A Rose E'erblooming" and "Of the Father's Love Begotten" rather than the popular music of the 18th. Each of its many verses hails another member of the landholder's household — even the four-legged ones. (This is, after all, a drinking-song.) The words and melody may be found in The Oxford Book of Christmas Carols, (Oxford University Press) which is available in several editions of various size and cost, originally published in 1928.
Lines 1096 - 1103 of LL1 suggest,
though allowing room for dispute, that the Ring given to Beren's father was originally made by Finrod's own father, though it is possible that "the badge…that Felagund his son now bore" only refers to the heraldic device, (of the pair of emerald-eyed golden snakes eating a crown of flowers) and not to the signet itself.
There's only one canonical, named, Silm. character this can logically be. Do not worry if you can't guess it, everything will be made clear by the end of the play.
Chess-playing kings staying up late in the old stories (and occasionally gambling away vast fortunes, or worse, on the outcome of the match) make it clear that Solitaire and its variants would have been welcomed in former centuries.
The story of the forgery of the brooch reflects my thought that it is plausible that there were early forays of Easterling entrepreneurs — traveling traders, explorers looking for resources of various sorts — to bring back the news of those wealthy countries beyond the mountains which lured more enterprising colonists to follow once the political disarray of the hot-war made for likely opportunities.
Clearly Huan is one of those "spirits" Manwë reminds Yavanna of in Silm., "Of Aulë and Yavanna," who will come to Arda belatedly from the Timeless Halls (as did Tulkas, remember!) for love, not to do evil, summoned by her thoughts when the time is ripe, to go among the kelvar and olvar and act as guiding forces — and even choose to "dwell therein, and be held in reverence, and their just anger shall be feared." (There are strong indications that Shadowfax, in LOTR, is one also, as it is definitely stated the Eagles are.) But there is no indication that anyone — certainly not his former master Celegorm — fully realizes this during most of his life. (There are still those who dispute this, and Huan's importance to the mythos. All I have to say to that is — count up the number of similarities between what Huan does, and what Gandalf does, and then decide if it's mere coincidence.)
Technically the Seneschal of Formenos might also be speaking in an antiquated dialect, having been offed even before the Feast of Reuniting, (by which point everyone was speaking Sindarin as the "lingua franca" of Beleriand, Silm., "Of the Return of the Noldor") but for dramatic simplicity I chose not to do so; presumably, being very image-conscious, and having been there quite some time, he would equally quickly have adapted his manners to those of newer arrivals so as not to seem out of date or identified with the ancien regime.
—I have included these "extras" for the simple reason that someone very like them must have been there, given the enormously high casualties taken in Beleriand by the Noldor, and their chronological and demographic distribution.
Not only does their presence add an element of conflict, but furthermore a firsthand presentation of different perspectives, untempered by the regrets and allegiances of the retellers.
ruel: the word is an antiquarian's in-joke, so to speak: it word comes up in the Middle-English usage "ruel-bone," and is employed by Tolkien as well. In the original contexts as well as later usage, it means some kind of ivory, but what kind no one is quite sure of. Because of the suggestive similarity between "ruel" and "rowel" in sound, meaning twisted, I tend to think of it as narwhal horn, which was a valuable commodity provided by Scandinavian mariners to continental Europe in the Middle Ages. Thus my conceit of the mysterious animal "ruel" as unicorns, — and thus solving the question of why they are not in Middle-earth: they are among those creatures never seen outside Valinor, (Silm., "Of Eldamar") though there might have been a perished population of them naturalized on Númenor as well. (And yes, wart-hogs are quite friendly and sociable animals and their keepers become very fond of them in zoos.)
Fëanor made the Silmarils in secret, not asking permission of even Yavanna before seeking to preserve and contain the Light of the Trees in some indestructible format — but his work was approved afterwards upon their revelation. (Silmarillion, "Of the Silmarils.") This did not stop him from hoarding them, dragon-like, or coming to regard them as exclusively and originally "his."
The question of past and future livelihoods reflects very real problems for those coming back from some long, life-changing experience, whether it be war, hospitalization, or anything else, which would not be fundamentally all that much different even in Valinor. The issues — new, old, and complicated — are going to be there, and must be dealt with. Or, as a much later hero would shrewdly put it, talking of happy endings and characters in the old tales, "And where will they live? That's what I often wonder." (LOTR:FOTR, "The Ring Goes South.")
"conniptions" — the native languages of the Edain are rather strange and abrupt and not "Middle-earthlike" at first glance, though deep digging into the etymologies and a more structural look at them reveals the root similarities. I've used this peculiar folk idiom to stand in place of the lost Taliska expression for throwing a fit…
Manir & Suruli: these spirits of air, like those who inhabit water, Maiar who dwell in the skies or oceans, reveal similarities in their nature to the kami of traditional Asian animism as well as to the sylphs, nymphs and water-gods of classical mythology. (Lúthien's dancing before Morgoth is said to have excelled that of the dancers of the air of the court on Taniquetil, which also brings to mind the Hindu mythos' apsaras, the sylphlike maidens of the heavens.) We also meet one of them in LOTR:FOTR, who comes to the rescue when invoked by those who have the right to do so — the river Bruinen. Since it seems that the Powers, greater and lesser, who inhabit these elements take their shape from them when they choose to manifest their consciousness in a visible and tangible form, the problem of being dead — and what that means among people who don't normally necessarily have bodies — gets sort of complicated in Arda.
The aesthetics discussion is not really implausible, given the nature of the participants. (Even in our world, and as late as WWII, Prof. Tolkien was called upon by a British officer who was a participant in a heated debate (upon which some significant mess-room bet was riding) to solve the question as to the correct pronunciation of the 18th-century poet Cowper's last name.)
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.