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Old 05-23-2003, 05:04 PM   #1
Attalus
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The Silmarillion, Chapter 8: Of the Darkening of Valinor

The Silmarillion - Chapter 8, "Of the Darkening of Valinor."

This is a rather short chapter in the published Silmarillion: only 5 pages. When I first reread it for the purpose of writing this Introduction, I had read the earlier accounts in HoME 4Shaping Middle-Earth and had not seen much change. Melkor flees from his encounter with Feanor, his perfidy exposed and the Valar on his tail. He feints North, and Orome and Tulkas search in the area of his former fastnesses of Utumno and Angband, but do not find him. Actually, he has gone South, to the land of "Avanthar, which means the Shadows in ancient Quenya." (HoME X, p. 284, footnote) He recruits Ungoliant, who is described in the Sil as a giant spider. "The Eldar knew not whence she came; but some have said that in ages long before she descended from the darkness that lies about Arda, when Melkor first looked down in envy upon the Kingdom of Manwe, and in the beginning she was one of those whom he corrupted to his service. But she had disowned her master...." It is also noted that "she hungered for light and hated it." Morgoth locates her and persuades her to join him again, offering satisfaction for her hunger. So far, so good. However, HoME X adds much to this story, including detail about how Melkor convinced Ungoliant to join him, including how initially she hid from him, "knowing his hatred for all who had escaped from him." She shrank into her deepest lair, trying to weave a new shadow about her, but she was weak and famished, having consumed all available light, and was unable to hide. He heaps scorn on her, calling her "thrice fool," and tells her of feasts that he will give her. She is not convinced, not believing him, (smart!) and retreating further. Melkor loses his temper and threatens to pull the whole mountain down upon her if she persists in resisting, and, as a counter-argument, offers her two green, glowing jewels filched from Valinor as payment in earnest of what is to come. She relents and eats the gems and others, and grows strong again. In both accounts, Melkor and Ungoliant both steal back into Valinor and poison the Two Trees, but the accounts in the Sil and X diverge, here. In the Sil, Ungoliant sucks the sap and light from the Trees, then Melkor delivers the coup de grace with his spear. In HoME X, Ungoliant kills the trees by herself, while Melkor, like a spoiled child, broods over Ulmo's Sea, defiles the Judgement Seat of Manwe and tips over the Thrones of the Valar. He then flees North, and dark falls upon the land. This remarkable change is explained by Christopher Tolkien as to allow Melkor to try to keep Ungoliant as far as possible from the Silmarils, since she would lust after them, and she had grown very powerful. In the the new version, Melkor would use the darkness as a cloak to steal north to Formenos, where the Silmarils remain, under guard of Finwe and the seven sons of Feanor, for they had not followed Feanor to the Festival where all the rest of the Noldor and Vanyar were partying with the Valar. HoME X adds some pretty detail of this Festival, but the basic facts remain: Feanor was there, on orders from Manwe, but he is still sulking, and hasn't dressed up and hasn't got the Silmarils. Manwe tries to reconcile Feanor and Fingolfin, with good will on Fingolfin's part, and he (Fingolfin) says, "You will lead, and I will follow," not knowing how true his words will be. However, despite Melkor's plot to stand her up, Ungoliant "turns swiftly" and follows him. In either case, Melkor has achieved his revenge.

Comments: First: all this begs the question of: where the heck did Ungoliant come from? This, I think, attaches to the much larger question of the origins of the Dragons and the Trolls, and even the sacred topic of the origins of Orcs. The answer, IMHO, is that Tolkien put various monsters into his tale, not thinking deeply about it at the time, and later trying to come up with origins that satisfyed his cosmology. Secondly, though HoME X adds that Melkor had timed all of this in advance, how on Arda could he have known that Feanor wouldn't wear the Silmarils to the Festival? He couldn't have been that prescient, and if Feanaro had been a little more gracious, Melkor would have been foiled, having poisoned the Two Trees but having lost the jewels he lusted for. The answer is, Melkor knew nothing of the depths of Feanor's sulks, but expected him to boycott the Festival altogether, so he could kill him and take the jewels.
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Old 05-23-2003, 05:07 PM   #2
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Re: The Silmarillion, Chapter 8: Of the Darkening of Valinor

Quote:
Originally posted by Attalus

Comments: First: all this begs the question of: where the heck did Ungoliant come from? This, I think, attaches to the much larger question of the origins of the Dragons and the Trolls, and even the sacred topic of the origins of Orcs. The answer, IMHO, is that Tolkien put various monsters into his tale, not thinking deeply about it at the time, and later trying to come up with origins that satisfyed his cosmology. Secondly, though HoME X adds that Melkor had timed all of this in advance, how on Arda could he have known that Feanor wouldn't wear the Silmarils to the Festival? He couldn't have been that prescient, and if Feanaro had been a little more gracious, Melkor would have been foiled, having poisoned the Two Trees but having lost the jewels he lusted for. The answer is, Melkor knew nothing of the depths of Feanor's sulks, but expected him to boycott the Festival altogether, so he could kill him and take the jewels.
I think that Ungoliant was a Maia who was in the service of Melkor but soon desired to be her own master, unlike Sauron who adored Melkor.
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Old 05-23-2003, 06:49 PM   #3
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I really don't have a problem with Ungoliant being a Maia, but I really don't think that every time that a new creature pops up (trolls, dragons, etc.) that we can just nod sagely and think, "uh, huh, there's another maia!"
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Old 05-23-2003, 06:52 PM   #4
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Re: The Silmarillion, Chapter 8: Of the Darkening of Valinor

Good work, Attalus!
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Originally posted by Attalus
Secondly, though HoME X adds that Melkor had timed all of this in advance, how on Arda could he have known that Feanor wouldn't wear the Silmarils to the Festival?
Wasn't it said somewhere that Fëanor had stopped wearing the jewels in public? That he denied anyone the sight of them, except himself and his father. I think it suited Morgoth well that Fëanor was not at home. He was interested in the jewels only, and one less Elf (and some Elf!) to fight was just for the good.
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Old 05-23-2003, 06:54 PM   #5
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I think Melkor could have had a strong suspicion that Feanor would not be wearing the Silmarils to the festival. After what happened when Feanor slammed his door in Melkor's face. Melkor probably knew that Feanor would be extreamly bent now on keeping the Silmarils safe, so would most likely keep them at Formenos.
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Old 05-23-2003, 06:58 PM   #6
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Oh, and a big thank you to Attalus for taking on the re-assignment of this chapter. Well done Attalus.
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"Whither go you?" she said.

"North away." he said: "to the swords, and the siege, and the walls of defence - that yet for a while in Beleriand rivers may run clean, leaves spring, and birds build their nests, ere Night comes."

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Old 05-23-2003, 09:53 PM   #7
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Likely she was an Ainur who have found her own path to corruption and fall without Melkor. Possibly before she came to Arda, since the Elvish legend is that she came in that form out of the void. Recall that Melkor had begun to corrupt hiself in the void before the music of the Ainur. Tulkas came to Arda sometime after its initial creation. Many others may have done so. They technically not be Maiar, since that refers to thoses that has served one of the Valar. They would just be Ainur.
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Old 05-23-2003, 11:07 PM   #8
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Re: The Silmarillion, Chapter 8: Of the Darkening of Valinor

Quote:
Originally posted by Attalus
The Silmarillion - Chapter 8, "Of the Darkening of Valinor."

Comments: First: all this begs the question of: where the heck did Ungoliant come from? This, I think, attaches to the much larger question of the origins of the Dragons and the Trolls, and even the sacred topic of the origins of Orcs. The answer, IMHO, is that Tolkien put various monsters into his tale, not thinking deeply about it at the time, and later trying to come up with origins that satisfyed his cosmology. Secondly, though HoME X adds that Melkor had timed all of this in advance, how on Arda could he have known that Feanor wouldn't wear the Silmarils to the Festival? He couldn't have been that prescient, and if Feanaro had been a little more gracious, Melkor would have been foiled, having poisoned the Two Trees but having lost the jewels he lusted for. The answer is, Melkor knew nothing of the depths of Feanor's sulks, but expected him to boycott the Festival altogether, so he could kill him and take the jewels.
I agree with you on both points.
Regarding Ungoliant, it almost felt like she was already there, and perhaps Melkor drew out of her what she became. I asked before regarding dragons whether he could bestow intellegence on creatures even if he could not give them life himself. But she seems much to evil and out of control, so I don't know. She seems "simple" to me, in her lust for light she doesn't seem to ponder or plot or have a lot of intellectual depth, she is very animalistic. If she is a Maia or some such, could this be due to her chosen form (choosing an animal form, esp. one so far down on the taxonomic scale, has the result of power, but a dumbing down, as it were, similar to the Istari being limited in their bodily forms)? OR is it the other way around: did her divine personality dictate what form she'd take?
Tolkien "working backwards" in terms of the creation of the different creatures certainly caused problems (that isn't a complaint, I'm so glad he created the characters to cause these problems!), mainly because of his own need to make everything "scientific." We as readers get so used to there being an explanation that we feel the need to question the origin of everything we come across, because we feel there must be one since everything else has been explained so thoroughly (me as much as anyone!), and when it isn't we flounder a little in the face of vagueness (I have no idea if that's really a word or not, but it's all I can muster at this point ).
That's why I agree w/ Attalus, that he created things for his world that defied explanation: there could be none or it would create problems in terms of his "science," so it was vague. And that's fine with me, because it's all the more fun to think about. It leaves some flexibility for the reader's imagination, and allows everyone have his own theories.
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Old 05-28-2003, 05:20 PM   #9
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It says that Fëanor and Fingolfin were reconciled in words. I wondered if that meant not fully in hearts. I doubt if Fëanor would put at naught their previous rivalry, and his humiliation in the Ring of Doom.

And why didn't the Valar lift the doom that was laid upon him, now that he was reconciled with his brother? OK, it seems like the twelve years of banishment was not yet over, but why then urge the reconciliation?
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Old 05-30-2003, 03:14 PM   #10
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I suspect Manwe was trying to pour oil on the troubled waters, perhaps bring Fëanor back within the fold so that his great talents would not be lost. Too little, too late, unfortunately.
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Old 05-31-2003, 04:09 PM   #11
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Re: The Silmarillion, Chapter 8: Of the Darkening of Valinor

First of all, thank you,Attalus, for the re-assignment of this chapter. So Newbies ,like me, don't have to search in the deep places of the board.

Quote:
Secondly, though HoME X adds that Melkor had timed all of this in advance, how on Arda could he have known that Feanor wouldn't wear the Silmarils to the Festival?
Like Artanis mentioned earlier, I think, it was known, that Fëanor had stopped showing the jewels in public.
And that Melkor used that knowledge.
But what I never understood is, how easily he got the Silmarils. I mean they were locked in Formenos, under guard of Finwe and Fëanor's sons.

And Ungoliant, maybe she was a Maiar, but she could also be a old creature of Melkor.
I guess, we can't have always answers.
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Old 05-31-2003, 04:21 PM   #12
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You are quite welcome, Finarwë. I enjoyed the assignment, having to read those books that I have but never read. Yes, it says expicitly that Fëanor "grudged the sight of [the Silmarils] to any but his sire and his" near kin. As for the "How Melkor did it" question, I have some observations about that, too, but they will have to await the posting of the introduction to the highly significant Chapter Nine.
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Old 06-06-2003, 04:35 PM   #13
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Quote:
But what I never understood is, how easily he got the Silmarils. I mean they were locked in Formenos, under guard of Finwe and Fëanor's sons.
I always wondered about that, where was Maedhros when Morgoth and Ungolinatë attack Formenos. The answer was in Morgoth's Ring: Later Quentas
Quote:
§7 But even as she mourned, there was heard the sound of feet hastening in the night. Then through the throng came the sons of Fëanor, flying from the North, and they bore new tidings of evil. Maedros spoke for them. 'Blood and arkness!' he cried. 'Finwë the king is slain, and the Silmarils are gone!'
Then Fëanor fell upon his face and lay as one dead, until the full tale was told.
§8 'My lord,' said Maedros to Manwë, 'it was the day of festival, but the king was heavy with grief at the departure of my father, a foreboding was on him. He would not go from the house. We were irked by the idleness and silence of the day, and we went riding towards the Green Hills. Our faces were northward, but suddenly we were aware that all was growing dim. The Light was failing. In dread we turned and rode back in haste, seeing great shadows rise up before us. But even as we drew near to Formenos the darkness came upon us; and in the midst was a blackness like a cloud that enveloped the house of Fëanor.
§9 'We heard the sound of great blows struck. Out of the cloud we saw a sudden flame of fire. And then there was one piercing cry. But when we urged on our horses they reared and cast us to the ground, and they fled away wild. We lay upon our faces without strength; for suddenly the cloud came on, and for a while we were blind. But it passed us by and moved away north at great speed. Melkor was there, we do not doubt. But not he alone! Some other power was with him, some huge evil: even as it passed it robbed us of all wit and will.
§10 'Darkness and blood! When we could move again we came to the house. There we found the king slain at the door. His head was crushed as with a great mace of iron. We found no others: all had fled, and he had stood alone, defiant. That is plain; for his sword lay beside him, twisted and untempered as if by lightning-stroke. All the house was broken and ravaged. Naught is left. The treasuries are empty. The chamber of iron is torn apart. The Silmarils are taken!'
Of course the great Maedhros would have not flinched in the defense of Formenos, the thing is that he wasn't there.
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As an adjective American is:
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2. Of or relating to North or South America, the West Indies, or the Western Hemisphere.
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1. The United States.
2. also the A·mer·i·cas. The landmasses and islands of North America, Central America, and South America.

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Old 06-06-2003, 04:44 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Maedhros
I always wondered about that, where was Maedhros when Morgoth and Ungolinatë attack Formenos. The answer was in Morgoth's Ring: Later Quentas

Of course the great Maedhros would have not flinched in the defense of Formenos, the thing is that he wasn't there.
wow...I had never read that part in Morgoth's ring...but it's really moving!
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Old 06-06-2003, 05:00 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Maedhros
Of course the great Maedhros would have not flinched in the defense of Formenos, the thing is that he wasn't there.
Do you think Finwë and the sons of Fëanor could have hindered Melkor ? I think this arises the question whether Melkor knew that Maedhros and his brothers were gone. Melkor was not the type to risk open battle himself, if it could be avoided.
Quote:
Originally posted by Arien the Maia
wow...I had never read that part in Morgoth's ring...but it's really moving!
I'm sure I have read it, but I don't remember it.
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Old 06-07-2003, 04:52 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by Arien the Maia
wow...I had never read that part in Morgoth's ring...but it's really moving!
ditto, but with a biggest wow
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Old 06-07-2003, 11:58 AM   #17
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Thanks

Quote:
Originally posted by Maedhros
I always wondered about that, where was Maedhros when Morgoth and Ungolinatë attack Formenos. The answer was in Morgoth's Ring: Later Quentas
Thanks, I haven't read Morgoth's Ring by now, have to finish some other Books first.( )
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Old 06-08-2003, 11:24 AM   #18
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I was reading Maedhros' original thread and saw that he requested pics to go with the Chapter Intros, so here is the best one I could find: Ungoliant
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Old 06-08-2003, 11:27 AM   #19
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Here is another that I like almost as well: Melkor and Ungoliant by John Howe
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Old 06-08-2003, 03:29 PM   #20
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Is the first picture really Ungoliant?
Looks a bit to small, in comparison with the skeletons in front.

The second one is great! I already use it as background-pics on my laptop, since a year or so.
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