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Old 02-28-2003, 04:01 PM   #1
Elanor Gamgee
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The Silmarillion: Ch.4, Of Thingol and Melian

Looks like time to start a new chapter

Of Thingol and Melian is, probably, the shortest chapter of The Silmarillion, just one and a half pages long. Actually, I would like to quote it in full, but the software doesn't allow it; the message gets too long.

It should be noted that this legend seems to endure from the earliest writings in Tolkiens mythology. The tale of a child of Gods and one of the Elves is mentioned already in The Tale of Tinviel (Book of Lost Tales, II), and subsequently in Annals of Aman (HoME X) and Grey Annals (HoME XI). We can assume that this plot twist was crucial for the whole mythology.
I believe, it is possible to discuss this chapter in two ways: internal, from within they mythology, and external, as a developing plot twist throughout Tolkiens writings. My ideas about any external discussion are very tentative; I think, it could be interesting to trace the image of Thingol was changed, from a wild wood-elf in The Tale of Tinviel to a mighty elf-lord, like a lord of the Maiar in both Grey Annals and Annals of Aman.
Now to the discussion from within.
Actually, Melian was the only Ainu who espoused one of the Children of Ilvatar. For her this love became a great sacrifice, because after she had given birth to a child, she lost the innate self-incarnation ability of the Ainur (as stated in Osanwe-kenta). Besides, this is a classical example of love at first sight, and with very grave consequences. So, the questions are:
Why was this fateful love so important? Was it a part of the Great Vision? What about the freedom of will: were Melian and Thingol doomed to fall in love? Why was Melian the only Ainu to fall in love? And a reverse question: what was so special in Thingol to make an Ainu to fall in love with him?

And now, a few more questions on somewhat lighter note (since Im a hobbit, and hobbits are carefree and disrespectful ):
It has always been my understanding that Melian enchanted Thingol to make him fall in love and subsequently marry her. Can her behaviour be categorised as sexual harassment or sexual assault?
When Thingol saw Melian and took her hand he fell in trans and endured over 200 yrs. How was it possible? Unlike Melian, who was a spirit (even though embodied) Thingol was of flesh and blood, and had to eat, sleep and so on. Did Melian provide some kind of sustenance for him by holding his hand, or did she simply stop time?

Extra reading:
The Tale of Tinviel (Book of Lost Tales, II)
Annals of Aman (HoME X)
Grey Annals (HoME XI).

Pictures and maps:
Rolozo Tolkien can be warmly recommended for both, http://fan.theonering.net/rolozo/
Map links could be also found here: http://valarguild.org/varda/Tolkien/encyc/maps.htm
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Old 03-01-2003, 05:43 AM   #2
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Re: The Silmarillion: Ch.4, Of Thingol and Melian

Quote:
Originally posted by Elanor Gamgee
what was so special in Thingol to make an Ainu to fall in love with him?

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Now this is the ultimate question. Maybe she mistook him for some one else?

(Not being a big Thingol fan, I may have some trouble thinking about this in an unbiased manner.)

The love of Melian was of course very important and fortunate for Beleriand, for without her magic the realm of Thingol could never have been protected the way it was. She was a great power who helped hold the balance against Morgoth for many years, along with the Noldor and their Mannish allies. Perhaps she knew something of this and it influenced her decision to stay with Thingol in Middle Earth. Perhaps she did enchant him, knowing that their alliance would play a pivotal role in Middle Earth. Or maybe she was just having a very long fight with her real, Maia, boyfriend and was trying to make him jealous.

The other Ainur fell in love too, I think, but with each other and not with Elves, Men, Dwarves, Hobbits, etc. I suppose it's difficult to fall in love with another race - witness how rare it is, even between Elves and Men, who are very similar.

Maybe they really were in love, but if so I have a hard time explaining it . . .
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Old 03-01-2003, 08:27 AM   #3
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The love of Thingol and Melian has always been somewhat of a mystery to me. Could this relationship have been part of the devine plan? Afterall, it did have consequences that reached far beyond the two of them. When I think of the events that unfold because of this union, then a devine plan makes sense to me, and when I say events, I am refering to the birth, life, and death of Luthien and all it involved, and the fact that this trance that Melian placed on him, caused his people to miss the summons of the Valar. If it was part of the devine plan of setting a course of fate for the peoples of Middle-earth by the Valar and Iluvatar, how much did Melian be one of the Ainur know of it, if any?
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Old 03-01-2003, 08:40 AM   #4
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What does "but of her there came among both Elves and Men a strain of the Ainur who were with Iluvatar before Ea" mean?
(I always don my "Densecap" when reading the Sil!
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Old 03-01-2003, 10:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lizra
What does "but of her there came among both Elves and Men a strain of the Ainur who were with Iluvatar before Ea" mean?
(I always don my "Densecap" when reading the Sil!
I would take this to be a reference to Luthien. Or a reference to Melian herself, being in Middle-earth as an Elf and living among them.
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Old 03-01-2003, 12:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lizra
What does "but of her there came among both Elves and Men a strain of the Ainur who were with Iluvatar before Ea" mean?
(I always don my "Densecap" when reading the Sil!
Yes, I think it definitely refers to Luthien's offspring, who were a blend of Ainu, Elf and Man. Aragorn is a descendant of Luthien, as is Arwen (and many others).

The wording of that sentence is a little unclear, though - the structure of the sentence makes it a little vague about whom the last phrase refers to ("a strain of the Ainur who were with Iluvatar before Ea") - was that what was confusing you? However, since the Sil clearly states that the Ainur were with Iluvatar before Ea (the universe) was made, I think it basically means this: "but of her (Melian) there came among both Elves (Elrond's house) and Men (Elros' house, Elrond's brother who chose to be numbered among Men - Aragorn is descended from him) a strain of the Ainur (the angelic beings who were with Iluvatar before Ea)".

Did that answer your question? And does your densecap look like mine? I wear mine often
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Old 03-01-2003, 12:29 PM   #7
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The whole Ainu/Elf marriage thing has always rather confused me, too, and I've always disliked Melian's name - it reminds me of mealworms for some reason, and I can't get it out of my head!!

I'm not wild about Thingol, but he can't have been too bad, if his people missed him and loved him so much that they stayed around to look for him for years.
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Old 03-01-2003, 01:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ran
The whole Ainu/Elf marriage thing has always rather confused me, too, and I've always disliked Melian's name - it reminds me of mealworms for some reason, and I can't get it out of my head!!

I'm not wild about Thingol, but he can't have been too bad, if his people missed him and loved him so much that they stayed around to look for him for years.
Perhaps in his early youth, Thingol was different than in his later years....maybe he grew really proud of the fact that he was the only one to have ever married an Ainu....that could be why he is so stinking arrogant
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Old 03-01-2003, 01:26 PM   #9
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I tend to think the line Luthien is one of those God-controlled things-one of those moments of direct, divine intervention that ultimately produce history. I think arrogance is part of immortality. Lack of mortality makes it harder to be humble.
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Old 03-01-2003, 01:48 PM   #10
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The growing puisance of Thingol cn aslo be attributed to his growing political stature, form just another Linda, to chief of a migrating tribe, to king of settled kingdom, and the kingdom growing in population, technology and culture. It is long journy from wandering around a big lake as just a young elf to where he ended up before his fall. In time alone, longer than the existance of our human civilization.

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Old 03-01-2003, 02:34 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ran
And does your densecap look like mine? I wear mine often
My "Densecap" is a green, lead-lined pillbox, with earflaps. It's "a look"! I prefer my lovely yellow "turkey" cloche.
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Old 03-01-2003, 02:54 PM   #12
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Re: The Silmarillion: Ch.4, Of Thingol and Melian

Quote:
Originally posted by Elanor Gamgee
And a reverse question: what was so special in Thingol to make an Ainu to fall in love with him?
I don't see any problem here. Do you need a reason to fall in love? Isn't the beauty of love in first sight the lack of reason?
Quote:
It has always been my understanding that Melian enchanted Thingol to make him fall in love and subsequently marry her.
I'm not so sure. If she did, she must have sensed him already when he was approaching from afar. He was enchanted by her song long before they saw each other.
Quote:
Elw, lord of the Teleri, went often through the great woods to seek out Finw his friend in the dwellings of the Noldor; and it chanced on a time that he came alone to the starlit wood of Nan Elmoth, and there suddenly he heard the song of nightingales. Then an enchantment fell on him, and he stood still; and afar off beyond the voices of the lmelindi he heard the voice of Melian, and it filled all his heart with wonder and desire.
Melian did lay a spell on him, but then he was already in love with her:
Quote:
She spoke no word; but being filled with love Elw came to her and took her hand, and straightway a spell was laid on him, so that they stood thus while long years were measured by the wheeling stars above them; and the trees of Nan Elmoth grew tall and dark before they spoke any word.
Quote:
Can her behaviour be categorised as sexual harassment or sexual assault?
No, but using her supreme power to keep him from his people and make him miss the journey to the West, that was not nice. But I tend to think as markedel here, that it was all part of a divine plan.
Quote:
When Thingol saw Melian and took her hand he fell in trans and endured over 200 yrs. How was it possible?
Good question. Melian may have possessed such power as had Yavanna (she was akin to Yavanna), to set a sleep upon living creatures, to check their ageing in a way.
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Old 03-01-2003, 03:07 PM   #13
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Despite my comments in another thread, I didn't see Thingol as such an unlikable guy until later. He was most likely very handsome, and Melian saw in him his potential as a great leader of elves and devoted husband and father. I think he changed after all those years isolated from the outside, and became pompous. He had a Maia for a wife, and his kingdom was impenetrable, and thus he felt he was indestructable. I think later on Melian disliked the changes she saw in him and did disagree w/ his decisions.
I think that Iluvatar did create the spark of love between them, but it could be argued that he had a plan for each being in ME, which included the mate they were to have, if any. This doesn't mean he took away their free will; I think they were free to refuse the mate or whatever other part of the "plan" they wished. But love is such a good thing, I don't see it likely that anyone would turn it down w/ out a reason (an exception being where there is evil intervention, as in the case of Turin; obviously in those places the plan of Iluvatar is thwarted because Melkor manipulates the situation so that the being in question makes a choice that goes against the plan, as in many cases, not just in the realm of love/ relationships).
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Old 03-02-2003, 06:06 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sister Golden Hair
The love of Thingol and Melian has always been somewhat of a mystery to me. Could this relationship have been part of the devine plan? Afterall, it did have consequences that reached far beyond the two of them. When I think of the events that unfold because of this union, then a devine plan makes sense to me, and when I say events, I am refering to the birth, life, and death of Luthien and all it involved, and the fact that this trance that Melian placed on him, caused his people to miss the summons of the Valar. If it was part of the devine plan of setting a course of fate for the peoples of Middle-earth by the Valar and Iluvatar, how much did Melian be one of the Ainur know of it, if any?
I've been pondering on that quite a lot, you know. It really intrigues me. I strongly believe by now that a marriage of this kind was a part of the divine plan, the Vision. Actually, it's very much in line with Lizra's question about Ainur's strain in men. IIRC this was the initial Vision (before the discord of Melkor) that beings created by Eru (the Ainur) and his Children (Men and Elves) would be co-creators of Arda and its history. The discord of Melkor has changed things dramatically, there was strife, and Ainur, Men and Elves become sundered. However, if I interpret the concept of Arda Healed correctly, this state of things (re-union of Elves, Men and Ainur, co-habitation and co-creation) is the state of bliss which is to be achieved before the ultimate end.
Sorry for digressing somewhat I believe, that a marriage was part of the Vision, but not its details (or the details of subsequent history). I wonder if Melian knew about it; honestly, I doubt. I also believe Elwe was totally unaware of any such matters, and Melian was actually playing behind his back in a way.
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Old 03-02-2003, 06:16 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lefty Scaevola
The growing puisance of Thingol cn aslo be attributed to his growing political stature, form just another Linda, to chief of a migrating tribe, to king of settled kingdom, and the kingdom growing in population, technology and culture. It is long journy from wandering around a big lake as just a young elf to where he ended up before his fall. In time alone, longer than the existance of our human civilization.
I agree! It sounds very plausible. I just have a couple of ideas to add. I would say that the journey to Valinor and return as an ambassador of The Divine Powers should raise Elwe's stakes immensely in the eyes of other Nelyar as well as his own. It has also occurred to me that Thingol's power in Doriath (maybe in all Beleriand) was basically absolute before the return of the Noldor. IMHO, he had much less constraint than Ingwe, Finwe or Olwe in Valinor.
I also believe that his marriage to an Ainu was a source of great pride to him (it's mentioned in Grey Annals that Fingolfin greatly respected Elwe because of that). On the other hand, it might cost him huge inferiority complex (which he tried to to conceal with arrogance, as is common). But this is just my ranting
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Old 03-02-2003, 06:30 AM   #16
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Re: Re: The Silmarillion: Ch.4, Of Thingol and Melian

Quote:
Originally posted by Artanis
I don't see any problem here. Do you need a reason to fall in love? Isn't the beauty of love in first sight the lack of reason?
I think it's time for me to call for a densecap, but love, especially at first sight, has been always intriguing me. How does it happen? And in this case it was the love, also with grave concequences

Quote:
Originally posted by Artanis
I'm not so sure. If she did, she must have sensed him already when he was approaching from afar. He was enchanted by her song long before they saw each other.Melian did lay a spell on him, but then he was already in love with her:
Basically, that's what I am driving at. I think the enchantment had started long before Elwe actually came to that glade. IMHO already the nightingales were the part of the enchantment; and even before, that he lost his way in the wood (an Elf loosing his way in a wood sounds suspicious to me ). He used to come and meet Finwe in his encampment, so the road must be pretty familiar. IMHO Melian was indeed foresighted.
<skip>

Quote:
Originally posted by Artanis
Good question. Melian may have possessed such power as had Yavanna (she was akin to Yavanna), to set a sleep upon living creatures, to check their ageing in a way.
Thank you! Sure, this can be the case. However, I am personally more in favour of time-stopping theory. Sorry for drifting somewhat off-topic again, but I just thought: Melian must be one of the higher-order Maiar (as you say, she was akin to Yavanna), and her powers could be compared to, say, Sauron's. We know that one of the main properties of the Elven rings, which they made under teaching of Sauron was their ability to delay the passing of time. So I wonder if higher Maiar indeed held this ability; Melian affected Thingol (but not the glade around them, since the trees kept growing and became a dense forest). Sauron taught Elves how to induce some of this power into an artefact.
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Old 03-02-2003, 07:42 AM   #17
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I hardly dare to ask this, but ... what the heck is a 'Densecap'?
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Old 03-02-2003, 08:25 AM   #18
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It is an imaginary hat, related to the "duncecap" of old. (Some old stories have a schoolteacher seating a slow or lazy student in a corner, with a tall cone-shaped paper "duncecap" on, for general humiliation purposes.) A "dunce" is a "stupid person; numbskull". I jokingly refer to a "Densecap" as a hat I might wear when feeling (or being ) particularly "dense" (thickheaded, dull). An example is when I read the same paragraph in the Silmarillion over twice, and still can't figure out what it just said!
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Old 03-02-2003, 11:13 AM   #19
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I suppose Thingol had a more likeable personality in his Elw-phase. His marriage to a Ainu and Maia and the personal esteem derived from that, probably started him off on the road of pride. And at a time he nearly was supreme ruler of all the lands between Ered Luin and the sea. All the elves, whether they were Sea Elves or Wood Elves, all acknowledged his rule. Then suddenly there's this bunch of suspicious Noldor that come into the picture and demand some land for their own. I suppose the fact that they did save him from being overcome by Morgoth's forces was a mere inconvenience to him. I can understand some of his arrogance and annoyance at that, even though I find it a rather bad trait in kings.

I don't think Melian had foreknowledge of his coming nor that she ensnared him on purpose. He heard her song from afar and I don't think she saw him until he took her hand. Neither do I think she actually laid a spell on him. IMO the spell was unintentional and derived from the fact that Melian was a Maia. Ergl... I can't really explain in words just what I mean with that but I'll try. The Ainur that came to E were fundamentally different from Elves and Men. I always imagined Maiar and Valar had a certain 'aura' around them which in lack of better word can perhaps be called magic. I always pictured Elw becoming spellbound because of what Melian was and not because she deliberately put a spell on him. It's the best rendering in words that I can give, I'm afraid. Of course this is only my opinion and there's no real proof for this but I like Melian better in this light.

But if their marriage was the intention of Illvatar I wonder at the reason of it and how much the Valar knew of it. At that time the Valar wished to bring all the Elves to Valinor, the dissapearance of Elw caused a delay therein and made several Elves to remain on the Eastern Shores. This would have been a snag in the plans of the Valar and in that light surely they wouldn't have allowed the enchantment of Elw that led to his staying. Or if they did know that Elw was meant to be left behind, surely they must have realised that bringing all the Elves to Valinor was a flawed plan in the first place? And if Elw and Melian's marriage was supposed to inject Ainu blood into the line of the Elves, surely they could have done that in Valinor too. Unless of course they were meant to stay behind to form a first defense line against Morgoth.
Quote:
IMHO already the nightingales were the part of the enchantment; and even before, that he lost his way in the wood (an Elf loosing his way in a wood sounds suspicious to me ).
I don't think he actually lost his way. The Silmarillion says that he 'was lost'. I suppose you can also interpret this as that the rest of the Elves lost track of him. The Elves searched for him and surely they must have been able to track his footprints to Nan Elmoth where they lost the trail, but that's my interpretation.

* rereads* All in all a pretty jumbled post. I hope it makes some sense.
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Old 03-02-2003, 11:22 AM   #20
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His growing vanity is more evidence in parts of HoME where he has a comtemptuous attitude to the Mithrim and other nothern Sindar.
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