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Old 03-25-2003, 10:21 PM   #1
azalea
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The Silmarillion ch.5: Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalie

This is really long, but there was a lot to cover. I have to say I enjoyed this chapter so much more the second time.

“Of Eldamar (Elvenhome) and the Princes of the Eldalie (Elven-folk)” is a chapter that introduces us to characters and places that have significant roles later in the mythology. Likewise, the situations that are detailed can be seen to have a bearing on later events. Of note in this chapter are the following:
We meet Cirdan the Shipwright.
Tol Eressea and Tuna are formed; Tirion and Alqualonde are built.
Galathilion is planted, the first “branch” (so to speak) in a line of trees that originated from Telperion.
The first flowers outside of Aman grow in Tol Eressea.
We meet Feanor and the rest of that gang, the major players in many events that later unfold. It is here that we are introduced to Galadriel.
And finally, we are told that all living things that dwelt in Arda “lived then in the land of Aman,” Melkor’s fell creatures excluded, of course.

I’ll start with that last bit: I of course take that to mean that any creature found anywhere in Arda would also be found in Aman, not that there were no creatures anywhere else, as the structure of that sentence could indicate. That sentence also implies that there were other creatures there that didn’t make it – could this mean dinosaurs? Unicorns? Both, or neither? And I wonder how big was Aman, because you have to figure that it had at least a few of everything from bears to squirrels to oliphaunts and on and on. It had to be pretty big to house comfortably all of those, plus the Valar and the elves! Wow.

Reading this chapter made me think about Tolkien’s reason for writing this, as a mythology. A mythology, as defined by Webster (I am paraphrasing) is a body of unverifiable stories that a people use to explain their history and to explain natural events or contemporary practices. It is interesting that the next definition of mythology is “an allegorical narrative.” We know that Tolkien hated allegory, but in creating this mythology, he seemed to include in the tales explanations for comtemporary things, as a good mythology does. This is evidenced in this chapter a couple of times, which I’ll open for discussion here. The first I’ve already mentioned: the fact that there are animals that we’ve heard of that no longer exist. He doesn’t tell what those are, but leaves it to the reader’s imagination.
The second is Tol Eressea. It is told here how the island is “moved” by Ulmo to pick up the elves in the Bay of Balar. The island then “moves” again, when he brings them on the island over the sea to Aman, but part of the island was broken off and remained in the bay. The island is moved a final time when Ulmo goes to retrieve the host of Olwe, then plants the island in the Bay of Eldamar at Osse’s request. As I read this whole episode, it reminded me so much of the other myths I’ve read. I could see the moving of the island being an explanation for the changing of the landscape, perhaps a kind of land bridge arose in the bay, connecting the main shore with the island, and then the waters rose again and parted on the other side. (It doesn’t say how long the journey took, so we don’t have that as a reference here.) Then once again the waters on the other side parted, and then came back together, but the waters on the far side never parted fully, so the island stayed in the bay. The fact that the island never made it all the way there also is given as the explanation for “the sundering of their [the Teleri's] speech from that of the Vanyar and the Noldor.”

I would have loved to see Ulmo blowing his shell. I wonder what it looked like, and sounded like.

In this chapter we see further evidence that Thingol started out as a great guy. He comes out of the trance lookin’ good. Funny how it just coincidentally (or not?) happens that he comes out AFTER the group of elves left with Olwe. It reminded me of the discussion we had about whether or not it was part of Iluvatar’s plan that Melian should “intervene” by falling in love with Elwe. It also states here that “a high doom was before him.” We’ve talked (somewhere) about the word doom, and what it means in different situations. A “high doom.” Now that I’ve read the rest, that really makes sense.

Here we find the foundation for the making of the Silmarils. The Noldor (who I started to call the earth lovers) are Aule’s buddies, so they learn all about making really cool stuff. Feanor is described for us as being the “mightiest in skill of word and of hand, more learned than his brothers.” (Here again is that “noble blood” element – the king’s firstborn son is the mightiest of the elves. Rarely are ignoble characters ones that shape events.)

(continued on next post)
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Old 03-25-2003, 10:25 PM   #2
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We also get to learn about the sea lovers, the Teleri, who finally make it to Aman in swan-drawn boats (another fantastically beautiful image). Swans end up being their theme of sorts, which made me think of the connection to the swan boats in Lorien. Is Galadriel a Teleri?(I still get confused.) If not, is there a connection, or were they just copying? I have added Alqualonde as one of the places I’d most like to visit if I went back in time to that age. What a beautiful image the passage describing it conjures.

Then there are the “air lovers,” Manwe’s pals, the Vanyar. They decide to go live w/ the Valar, and are separated from the rest of the Eldar. Feanor and the gang become wanderers, which of course is a precursor to their big “wander.” But really, I see that thankfully they were not homebodies or else who would have come back and made ME what it became?

I realize this is somewhat thrown together, but I wanted to go ahead and get it posted. Hopefully those of you who have read the HoME, etc., will add to what I’ve presented. I realize I didn’t put my post in the form of questions, but I hoped to group it so that everyone could give their thoughts on each point I brought up (or at least a couple!). Also, I tended to give merely my impressions of the chapter, rather than to bring up topics that would relate the chapter to the book as a whole (whys and what ifs). I hope people will bring up such topics, I simply coldn't think of any at this time (but maybe as the discussion develops I will). Please be kind in your criticism of my inferior knowledge when you post. I hope to learn a lot.
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Old 03-25-2003, 10:32 PM   #3
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Well, I think you did a fine job on such short notice. I will post on the chapter later. I want to re-read it first.

I unstuck chapter 4 and then went to stick this one, and accidently unstuck it because I didn't realize that you had already stuck it. Anyway, it is stuck again

azalea, thank you for doing this in a pinch, and making it possible for the project to continue.
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Old 03-25-2003, 10:36 PM   #4
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You're welcome! I'm just interested on what everyone's going to say! I've said it before (well, maybe not in these words) -- this forum and the project in particular have taught me more about the Silm than I ever hoped to learn!
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Old 03-25-2003, 10:37 PM   #5
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Oh yes Thank you! I like to help and do my part, but am of no use in this ! I'll reread too!
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Old 03-26-2003, 02:27 PM   #6
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very good work azalea! i'm amazed with the professionality of the admin-mod team

i've never noticed the connection between the swan-ships of Alqualonde and those of Lorien. Yes, Galadriel was (partly) a Teleri: Earwen, her mom was Olwe's daughter. Though Galadriel liked to spend her time with Feanor's sons, i suppose that she had time enough to enjoy summers at Alqualonde

however, i don't think the ships of Lorien were the same they use at Alqualonde: first, because the obvious differences between a river and the sea, and second because i don't see Galadriel as one who had learned all about shipbuilding when she was in Alqualonde, though, perhaps she could have inspired the idea of making Lorien ships as swans.
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Old 03-26-2003, 02:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Fat middle
i don't think the ships of Lorien were the same they use at Alqualonde: first, because the obvious differences between a river and the sea, and second because i don't see Galadriel as one who had learned all about shipbuilding when she was in Alqualonde, though, perhaps she could have inspired the idea of making Lorien ships as swans.
That makes sense. I didn't figure that they were the same ones, but it seemed pretty coincidental for there to be swan boats in Lorien, too. They'd have to be smaller, anyway.
Thanks for the compliment, BTW!

One thing I forgot to comment on before was when I mentioned that no flowers had grown outside of Aman before the Pelori was cleft. That is odd, could you imagine a world w/ no flowers? Technically it couldn't be true since there were plants in ME, and plants must flower in order to reproduce (even grass has flowers, just very small ones). Hmmm.
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Old 03-26-2003, 02:48 PM   #8
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yep, there were plants in ME, but after the destruction of the two great lamps they couldn't grow. remember that all the Earth was in darkness. the sky was peopled with stars all "day". that's why elves love stars.

Yavanna, then, put to sleep all her creatures so they don't die with the darkness.

only in Beleriand there was some little growing of plants because the Valar had treaded that land in their war with Melkor, and so the have somehow lightened the land.
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Old 03-26-2003, 02:49 PM   #9
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Another thing about the swan ships: IIRC, when the Noldor had asked the Teleri for thier ships, the Teleri refused saying something like these ships are to us as the Silmarils are to you, the likes of which we shall never make again. I would think that construction of swan ships could be done following that model though.
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Old 03-26-2003, 02:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Fat middle
yep, there were plants in ME, but after the destruction of the two great lamps they couldn't grow. remember that all the Earth was in darkness. the sky was peopled with stars all "day". that's why elves love stars.

Yavanna, then, put to sleep all her creatures so they don't die with the darkness.

only in Beleriand there was some little growing of plants because the Valar had treaded that land in their war with Melkor, and so the have somehow lightened the land.
But then how did the elves and other creatures there eat? I know what you're saying is true, I just am not understanding the whole picture somehow.

Good point about the ships, SGH.
Just to clarify, I didn't mean in my first post about them that I thought they were the very ships, but I meant were they built by the same "people" (why I asked if Galadriel was a Teleri) or was it some other group 'copying" the Teleri's design.
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Old 03-26-2003, 03:08 PM   #11
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i believe that Galadriel was the only Teleri at Lorien. The rest of the people were Nandor or similar.

and talking about the eldar branches, i think that's an important theme of this chapter. as in the rest of Silm., here we see the elves sorted by their proximity to the Light of Valinor. why? were the elves conceived by Eru to live with the Valar? are the moriquendi naturally worse than the calaquendi because they didn't response to the summons?
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Old 03-26-2003, 03:11 PM   #12
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Galadriel was a Noldorin princess, wasn't she?
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Old 03-26-2003, 03:20 PM   #13
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The Silmarillion lists her mother as the daughter of Olwe of Alqualonde, so it is clear to me now that she would have gotten inspiration for her own boats from the big ones there. Her father is listed as Finarfin, who was half Noldo, half Vanya. That's what I gather. So she was really MOSTLY Teleri (except I don't see who Olwe's wife was, I assume she too was a Teleri).

Edit: Mostly Teleri by blood, but by "house," figuring it goes by the male lines, a Noldorin princess is right.
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Old 03-26-2003, 04:01 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by azalea
We also get to learn about the sea lovers, the Teleri, who finally make it to Aman in swan-drawn boats (another fantastically beautiful image). Swans end up being their theme of sorts, which made me think of the connection to the swan boats in Lorien. Is Galadriel a Teleri?(I still get confused.) If not, is there a connection, or were they just copying?
When I read about the swans I thought of Lórien too. Galadriel lived in Aman for a long time. She had probably learned some of the art of ship-making from her mother's kin. I think the swan-boats in Lórien were made because they reminded Galadriel of Alqualondë. She wanted Lórien to resemble Aman as much as possible. Also she would perhaps be thinking of her mother, the swan-maiden of Alqualondë.
Quote:
In this chapter we see further evidence that Thingol started out as a great guy. He comes out of the trance lookin’ good.
That part about Thingol was remarkable. Look at this:
Quote:
His people gathered about him in joy, and they were amazed; for fair and noble as he had been, now he appeared as it were a lord of the Maiar, his hair as grey silver, tallest of all the Children of Ilúvatar; and a high doom was before him.
His apperance had clearly changed during his trance. What had happened? Was it his spirit that had recieved some of Melian's 'Maianess'?
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Old 03-26-2003, 07:28 PM   #15
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This occurs throughout ME-Aragorn's appearance changed too-I guess the bloodline does it.
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Old 03-27-2003, 02:29 AM   #16
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I like that little view of the Noldor where it says:
Quote:
They were changeful in speech, for they had great love of words, and sought ever to find names more fit for all things that they knew or imagined.
For me, the languages and names are one of the most beautiful things about ME. The descriptions of the names (father-name, mother-name, etc.) are really interesting (HoME 10, Morgoth's Ring, IIRC). And then how the Noldorin names were converted to Sindarin form, etc. (HoME 12, Peoples of ME, which I just caved in and bought!)
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Old 03-27-2003, 02:57 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by markedel
This occurs throughout ME-Aragorn's appearance changed too-I guess the bloodline does it.
In the case of Aragorn, I've always assumed that he 'unveiled' his hidden power and nobility at these moments. It could be, as you say, qualities that come from his bloodline. It was something he had inside him always, but chose to display only when needed. The same goes for Gandalf in M-E. But Elwë seems to have gained some nobility that does not come from his blood. He is not a Maia, but still he appears like 'a lord of the Maiar'.

So I'm assuming that it was Elwë's spirit that had changed during the years in trance when he was closely tied to Melian, or perhaps his spirit didn't change, only its hidden power was released.
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Old 03-27-2003, 03:08 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rían
I like that little view of the Noldor where it says:
For me, the languages and names are one of the most beautiful things about ME. The descriptions of the names (father-name, mother-name, etc.) are really interesting (HoME 10, Morgoth's Ring, IIRC). And then how the Noldorin names were converted to Sindarin form, etc. (HoME 12, Peoples of ME, which I just caved in and bought!)
Tolkien would have loved you Rían Are you reading the Shibboleth?
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Originally posted by azalea
The fact that the island never made it all the way there also is given as the explanation for “the sundering of their [the Teleri's] speech from that of the Vanyar and the Noldor.”
I hadn't noticed that detail before. Does it mean that there were in fact 3 languages? Quenya as spoken by the Noldor and the Vanyar, a variety of Quenya spoken by the Teleri in Aman, and Sindarin as spoken by the Teleri back in Beleriand?
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Old 03-27-2003, 03:28 AM   #19
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Originally posted by Fat middle
and talking about the eldar branches, i think that's an important theme of this chapter. as in the rest of Silm., here we see the elves sorted by their proximity to the Light of Valinor. why? were the elves conceived by Eru to live with the Valar? are the moriquendi naturally worse than the calaquendi because they didn't response to the summons?
Not worse I think, only different. The Elves came in many flavours, and it would be natural that those with similar interests would gather together, and so we get the three main hosts, Vanyar, Noldor and Teleri.

Whether it was Eru's will or not, the Great March made all the Elves settle in different places througout Eriador and Beleriand, which is a good thing, enhancing the chance of Men to meet them and learn from them, as they were appointed to.
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Old 03-27-2003, 07:54 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by Artanis
Not worse I think, only different. The Elves came in many flavours, and it would be natural that those with similar interests would gather together, and so we get the three main hosts, Vanyar, Noldor and Teleri.

Whether it was Eru's will or not, the Great March made all the Elves settle in different places througout Eriador and Beleriand, which is a good thing, enhancing the chance of Men to meet them and learn from them, as they were appointed to.
Yes, but when i read this chapter i perceive that the Vanyar are the wisest and most spiritual elves (and so they move till they live in the Light); the Noldor are eager for wisdom (but there are a shadow in their hearts like the shadow of the Pelori over Tirion); the Teleri loves Nature and are less interested in spiritual wisdom...

i don't know, but i bet that all this is Vanyarin or Noldorin tradition and that it comes from the Anals of Aman, and that nothing of this can be found in the Grey Anals. i'll try and look for this later.
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