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Old 07-07-2003, 01:25 PM   #1
Elanor Gamgee
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The Silmarillion: Ch.10. Of the Sindar

Of the Sindar
Brief summary of Chapter 10
This was the time when the Sindarin realm in Beleriand was founded and blossomed. Elw Singollo had awoken after his long trance and together with Melian the Maia he gathered under their power all the Elves of Beleriand. Since the realm had been established Elw became known as Elu Thingol (the King Greymantle); his subjects were his closest kin and friends who lived near him and Melian around and in the forest of Neldoreth, as well as the followers of Cirdan (the Falathrim; Cirdan himself acknowledged Thingol as his overlord) and the wondering hunters of the Blue Mountains. All these Elves were of Telerin origin, but as subjects of Thingol they became known as the Sindar, Grey elves.
The teaching of Melian brought great prosperity to her realm. Although the Sindar were, technically speaking, the Moriquendi (i.e. they never saw the light of the Two Trees), due to the teaching of Melian they became the most skilled and advanced in craft and knowledge of all the Elves of Middle-earth. Although Middle-earth still lay in the sleep of Yavanna, Melian brought life and prosperity to Thingols realm. Thingol himself was a lord of great power and knowledge and Tolkien compares him with a lord of the Maiar.
During this time Lthien was born in the forest of Neldoreth. Also during this time the Dwarves crossed the Blue Mountains (Ered Luin) from the East and entered Beleriand, where they met the Sindar. As the text points out, from the beginning there was trade and collaboration between the two peoples, but the friendship with the Sindar was ever cool. The Dwarves informed Thingol of the dangers in the world around (Melian protected her realm with her power, even though the Girdle had not yet existed), and the royal couple decided that they would need a permanent dwelling. The cave palace of Menegroth (The Thousand Caves) was devised and built, with the help of the Dwarves and according to the designs of Melian. While it existed Menegroth remained the most beautiful of all the dwellings of the Elves east of the Sea.
During this period Daeron, the minstrel of Thingol, first of the Elves of Middle-earth devised the runes, Cirth. They were not much used by the Sindar but the Dwarves greatly appreciated them and kept using them throughout the history of Middle-earth.
As the time of captivity of Melkor was coming over, his servants, fell creatures and Orcs, started troubling Elves in Middle-earth. Because of these attacks (not yet very numerous) some of the Elves who had earlier forsaken the March and followed Lenw back eastwards changed their minds, crossed the Misty Mountains and returned to Beleriand. Their chief was Denethor, son of Lenw. Thingol welcomed them as kinsmen and they settled in Ossiriand. They acknowledged Thingol as their overlord but culturally remained people apart, different from the Sindar, and had a separate name, Laiquendi (Green elves), because of their green raiment.
Bearing in mind the warnings of the Laiquendi and the Dwarves, Thingol followed the advice of the Dwarves, bought armour and arms from them and armoured his people. This weapon he soon had to put to use.
Ungoliant came to Beleriand after her quarrel with Morgoth, but the power of Melian stopped her from entering the region of Neldoreth and she settled just south of Dorthonion; this region was since called Ered Gorgoroth, Mountains of Terror. Morgoth, upon returning to Angband, attacked the Elves. The Laiquendi suffered the greatest loss, and their leader, Denethor, was killed. The Elves mourned him so much as they never again took another king. Some of the Laiquendi since came to Doriath and mixed up with the Sindar.
The Thingols army was victorious; he finally aided both the Laiquendi and Cirdans people, but he realised that he was dealing with an extremely dangerous and powerful enemy. Melian, who possessed the foresight of the Maiar, also realised that they would need a better protection. Therefore Thingol assembled all his previously scattered people in one area in Neldoreth and Region, which Melian encircled by a magic protection wall, Girdle of Melian. Only a being whose power would exceed the power of Melian could come through the girdle against the will of Melian and Thingol. Since that time the region inside the girdle became known as Doriath, the Guarded Realm, and its people as Doriathrim.
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Old 07-07-2003, 01:27 PM   #2
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Of the Sindar: Questions and resources

Questions:
How powerful was Melian, actually? Earlier in the text she is called to be akin to Yavanna herself; she was able to cause growth on a vast area of Middle-earth; she could stop Ungoliant; she could create an impregnable protection around her realm. Was she one of the highest order Maiar, probably, equal to Sauron?
Dwarves and Elves: there was a mutually beneficial co-operation between Dwarves and Sindar, but there was hardly any friendship. Why? And why did the Dwarves become so friendly with the Noldor when these Elves entered Beleriand? Is it just because both people were skilled at work with metal and stone and revered Aule? And why did the Dwarves so readily adopted Daerons runes which his own people basically ignored?
These questions are by no means exhaustive and are just meant to spark the discussion.

Extra reading:
The Grey Annals, entries 1152-1497 (till the Coming of the Noldor); The War of the Jewels, HoME XI; this is an interesting supplementary source because it provides chronology for the events;
Quendi and Eldar; The War of the Jewels, HoME XI; this essay is linguistic in nature and can be difficult to get through, but it provides good insight into Sindarin culture as compared to Noldorin.
The Tale of Tinuviel; The Book of Lost Tales, II. This is the very beginning of Tolkiens work over his mythology. He started the story in 1917 and the characters of Thingol and Melian (Tinwelint and Gwendeling) and the elves at their court are totally different from the later versions. Still, it could be interesting to follow the mythology as it evolved.

Maps:
http://fan.theonering.net/rolozo/col...aps/?hide=-513
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Old 07-08-2003, 12:07 PM   #3
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Suilad Elanor, mellon nn,
I have a busy day, but wanted to stop in and say Ill be by later to contribute on this interesting topic!
'til then,
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Old 07-08-2003, 08:06 PM   #4
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I tell you, I had a lot of trouble with the BoLT version! Those names just grated on my ears (Tinwelint and Gwendeling), unlike the Sil version of the names. Altho I'm not wild about the name "Melian", either...

I'm glad Tevildo and his cohorts (co-cats?) got thrown out, too.

I'd like to add HoME 3, The Lays of Beleriand, "The Lay of Leithian" for reference, too, because it speaks of Lthien and it's so lovely.
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Old 07-08-2003, 08:37 PM   #5
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Hello Elanor, and thank you for posting an interesting introduction. I have been away, so I will have to find the admin who did my job of sticking the thread and thank them for that and watching my forums.

Quote:
How powerful was Melian, actually?
I have often wondered about the power of Melian. I have always thought that although she was of the Maiar of Yvanna, she was not even near to the power of Sauron, and maybe even lesser Maiar after she took Elven form. It seems to me that she expended much of her powers on her form and maintaining the Girdle of Melian. Or could it be that in Elven form her powers were diminished as a Maia?
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Old 07-08-2003, 10:20 PM   #6
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The Girdle of Melian would likely not have stopped the powerful signers (magic users) among Morgorths captains, and perhaps not even thoses among the Elves. I expect Sauron or Glaurung could have force their way through, but i do not know if they could have proctect armies under their command from its effects. From the metions of warfare upon the borders of Doriath,we could assume that it was not even a complete barrier against the non magical. From the story of beren it apears that its main effects ere bewilderment and fear, a messing with mind sort of thinh, making impossible to advance in a directed or organized fashion. One of the reasons, I suspect, that beren made it straight through was his head was already so screwed up by the Ered Gorgoreth and Nam-Dugorthreb, thus he was subject to more bewilderment.
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Old 07-09-2003, 04:26 PM   #7
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I gave in to temptation and bought WoTJ a few weeks ago (HoME 11) and there were a few things on Elf/Dwarf relationships.

Here's a quick one from Quendi and Eldar:
Quote:
The Sindar had long known the Dwarves, and had entered into peaceful relations with them, though of trade and exchange of skills rather than of true friendship, before the coming of the exiles.
I think that Elves and Dwarves were just too different. It's like when you have a relative that is nice, but just totally different as far as habits, hobbies, viewpoints, etc. - you both try to be polite and considerate out of consideration of the relationship, but it's just not a natural and relaxed friendship. If you were not relatives, you wouldn't even be talking with each other - not because you dislike them, but you just don't "click".

I think it was the same way with Elves and Dwarves. They had consideration for each other as fellow Children of Ilvatar, and respect for skills, and a mutually benefitting trade, but ... they wouldn't be inviting each other back and forth to tea parties!
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Old 07-09-2003, 05:36 PM   #8
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1. How powerful was Melian, actually? Earlier in the text she is called to be akin to Yavanna herself; she was able to cause growth on a vast area of Middle-earth; she could stop Ungoliant; she could create an impregnable protection around her realm. Was she one of the highest order Maiar, probably, equal to Sauron?
As only one with a power greater than that of Melian the Maia could pass the barrier, there could not have been that many in ME that were greater than she was. Whether Ungoliant was actually less powerful or just thought Doriath wasnt worth the trouble is not known.
The Ainur did seem to diminish their personal power when they invested part of it in some other substance and/or when they became incarnate. Yet so long as he/she had access to the substance so invested, that power seemed to remain quite potent. Beren seemed to make it through on account of the 'great doom' laid upon him.

2. Dwarves and Elves: there was a mutually beneficial co-operation between Dwarves and Sindar, but there was hardly any friendship. Why?
Perhaps the less than friendly feelings were rooted in the conflict between the Sindar and the Petty-dwarves. As recounted in Quendi and Eldar, the Sindar for long did not even know they were persons and called them two-footed animals. Because the Petty-dwarves ambushed and viciously attacked the Elves in the dark of night whenever they could, the Elves had hunted and killed them until they met the Naugrim (Dwarves) and realized what the Petty-dwarves were related to the Dwarves and thus incarnates also. The Naugrim, though not friendly with the Petty-dwarves themselves, nevertheless resented the harsh treatment of their distant kin, and this could easily contribute to less than friendly relations.

3. And why did the Dwarves become so friendly with the Noldor when these Elves entered Beleriand? Is it just because both people were skilled at work with metal and stone and revered Aule?
The Noldor, of course, had had no part in the ancient conflict between the Petty-dwarves and the Sindar, and that fact, combined with their love of metalworking and respect for Aul, could well have influenced the Dwarves to be friendlier with the Noldor than the Sindar.

4. And why did the Dwarves so readily adopted Daerons runes which his own people basically ignored?
Actually, I had wondered about this one myself. The passage in the Sil implies to me that the Sindar may not have had much need for writing at that time. As it says, but they were little used by the Sindar for the keeping of records, until the days of the War, and much that was held in memory perished in the ruins of Doriath. But of bliss and glad life there is little to be said, before it ends; as works fair and wonderful, while still they endure for eyes to see, are their own record, and only when they are in peril or broken for ever do they pass into song."
The Dwarves, being mortal, perhaps saw the need for written language before circumstances forced the Elves to see it. With their excellent memories and long lives, maybe the Sindar at that time simply did not feel the necessity to write much of anything down. Later, when the death and destruction of war became a reality, they too were compelled to make written records. And it was not long after that the Noldor arrived with the Fanorian Tengwar, which they soon adapted for use with the Sindarin language.

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Old 07-11-2003, 04:30 PM   #9
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Suilad, Ithildin!
Great to talk to you again; feels much like good ol' time

Thanks for welcome, Sister! I wish I could have come back to this discussion earlier.

Quote:
Originally posted by Ithildin55
The Ainur did seem to diminish their personal power when they invested part of it in some other substance and/or when they became incarnate. Yet so long as he/she had access to the substance so invested, that power seemed to remain quite potent. Beren seemed to make it through on account of the 'great doom' laid upon him.
This is very true. I always had a feeling (probably unwarranted) that Melian's power was gradually diminishing during her sojourn in Middle-earth; in fact, to such an extent that after Thingol's death she became unable to maintain the Girdle any longer. In the end it contributed to the ruin of Doriath. However, I can be quite mistaken about it; any ideas, good people?
Still, I also wonder if this diminishing of her power could be attributed to the birth of Luthien. As is stated in Osanwe-kenta, conception, begetting and birth of a child would make an Ainu permanently incarnate. I wonder if Melian's Elvish form would rob her of a great deal of her power (as Sister points out); maybe even the fact that she shared so much of her power with Thingol played its role.

Quote:
Originally posted by Ithildin55
Perhaps the less than friendly feelings were rooted in the conflict between the Sindar and the Petty-dwarves. As recounted in Quendi and Eldar, the Sindar for long did not even know they were persons and called them two-footed animals.
Indeed, a very plausible explanation! Yet in this I'm siding rather with Rian's opinion, I think (see the next entry).

Quote:
Originally posted by Ithildin55
The Noldor, of course, had had no part in the ancient conflict between the Petty-dwarves and the Sindar, and that fact, combined with their love of metalworking and respect for Aul, could well have influenced the Dwarves to be friendlier with the Noldor than the Sindar.
Quote:
Originally posted by Rian
I think that Elves and Dwarves were just too different. It's like when you have a relative that is nice, but just totally different as far as habits, hobbies, viewpoints, etc. - you both try to be polite and considerate out of consideration of the relationship, but it's just not a natural and relaxed friendship. If you were not relatives, you wouldn't even be talking with each other - not because you dislike them, but you just don't "click".
Again, it's just a feeling, but I always imagined Noldorin and Sindarin mentality being quite different. The Noldor loved craft, accomplishments and knowledge almost to the point of obsession (not so much unlike Men, actually ), but we know little of what the Sindar were like... Their attitudes seems quite different... but what were these differences?

Quote:
Originally posted by Ithildin55
Actually, I had wondered about this one myself. The passage in the Sil implies to me that the Sindar may not have had much need for writing at that time. As it says, but they were little used by the Sindar for the keeping of records, until the days of the War, and much that was held in memory perished in the ruins of Doriath. But of bliss and glad life there is little to be said, before it ends; as works fair and wonderful, while still they endure for eyes to see, are their own record, and only when they are in peril or broken for ever do they pass into song."
I think you're right again, mellon nin As the texts state even the Noldor, who left most of texts in Middle-earth and compiled libraries, had no intention to write down what they knew before they realised who dangerous their life in Middle-earth actually was, and how likely it was for knowledge to perish together with its bearer...
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Old 07-11-2003, 04:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ithildin55
... and that fact, combined with their love of metalworking and respect for Aul, could well have influenced the Dwarves to be friendlier with the Noldor than the Sindar.
That's an excellent point, Ithildin55 - the common love/respect for Aul.
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Old 07-11-2003, 04:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ran
I tell you, I had a lot of trouble with the BoLT version! Those names just grated on my ears (Tinwelint and Gwendeling), unlike the Sil version of the names. Altho I'm not wild about the name "Melian", either...

I'm glad Tevildo and his cohorts (co-cats?) got thrown out, too.

I'd like to add HoME 3, The Lays of Beleriand, "The Lay of Leithian" for reference, too, because it speaks of Lthien and it's so lovely.
Hi Rian,
I agree with you. Neither am I very partial to BoLT. I do believe that the post-LoTR mythology (i.e. the stuff written and emended between 1954 and 1966) is much more exiting and sophisticated. With all due respect, BoLT texts resemble mediaeval sources a bit too much, IMHO.
When it goes to Tevildo, though, I'm in two minds. I'm not overfond of him, but I love cats
As for WoTJ, I do believe it's the temptation worth succumbing to. Congratulations!
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Old 07-23-2003, 07:50 AM   #12
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Q: How powerful was Melian, actually?
Quote:
Originally posted by Elanor Gamgee
I always had a feeling (probably unwarranted) that Melian's power was gradually diminishing during her sojourn in Middle-earth; in fact, to such an extent that after Thingol's death she became unable to maintain the Girdle any longer. In the end it contributed to the ruin of Doriath. However, I can be quite mistaken about it; any ideas, good people?
Melian was never a acting person, more a person who's obeserving and prepareing. And she loved Thingol dearly, that's why IMHO, in the end she left Middle-earth. She was so devastated by his death, that she didn't cared for enything else.
Quote:
Still, I also wonder if this diminishing of her power could be attributed to the birth of Luthien. As is stated in Osanwe-kenta, conception, begetting and birth of a child would make an Ainu permanently incarnate.
Some friends of mine compared the birth of Luthien with the birth of Feanor, but Melians power din't faded after she gave birth to her daugther, nor during her living in ME, only after Thingol's death.

Q: Dwarves and Elves?
Quote:
Again, it's just a feeling, but I always imagined Noldorin and Sindarin mentality being quite different. The Noldor loved craft, accomplishments and knowledge almost to the point of obsession (not so much unlike Men, actually ), but we know little of what the Sindar were like... Their attitudes seems quite different... but what were these differences?
The Sindar are discribed as great singers and they normally didn't live in stone-houses. But it's not so much about the differences, between their mentality. I think, the Dwarves are much more liked by the Noldorin, because of they warskills. They needed them to fight Morgoth, while the Sindar needed the Dwarvers to make them nice juwelry. And what get the Dwarves in return? The Sindar payed them and from the Noldorin they got knowledge. I also think that makes no graet difference for the Dwarves, they simply took what they could get.
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Old 07-25-2003, 03:42 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ran
I tell you, I had a lot of trouble with the BoLT version! Those names just grated on my ears (Tinwelint and Gwendeling), unlike the Sil version of the names. Altho I'm not wild about the name "Melian", either...
Hehe. The names Tinwelint and Gwendeling made me think of the little fairy Tinkerbell (Norwegian: Tingeling ) But the names didn't bother me as such, because the personalities of both Tinwelint and Gwendeling were easily recognised as those of Melian and Thingol from the Sil.

Lefty, I think your description of the girdle was very good.

Quote:
Originally posted by Elanor Gamgee
This is very true. I always had a feeling (probably unwarranted) that Melian's power was gradually diminishing during her sojourn in Middle-earth; in fact, to such an extent that after Thingol's death she became unable to maintain the Girdle any longer. In the end it contributed to the ruin of Doriath.
I'm more with Finarwe here, I think it was her devastating sorrow at Thingol's death that made her give up the Girdle. It was her great love for Thingol that made her take on her Elvish form and protect their realm against their enemies. Also, she had her foresight and perhaps she knew that Doriath could no longer be protected. BoLT 2, The Nauglafring, says about Melian:
Quote:
By reason of the anguish of her heart was her sight grown very clear, and she read by her fay-wisdom the curse of Mm and much of what would yet betide.
Quote:
Originally posted by Elanor Gamgee
I wonder if Melian's Elvish form would rob her of a great deal of her power (as Sister points out);
This sounds logical to me. The power of the Istari was also diminished (or perhaps restrained is a better description) when they took on the form the Men.
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Old 07-27-2003, 02:16 PM   #14
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I just re-read this chapter and noticed something I haven't before. I knew that Melian had "adopted" elvish form in order to marry Thingol. What I hadn't noticed is that she could return to his natural maiar form but only after Thingol had died because she was somehow tied to him.

I wonder if this has something to do with the elvish Laws and Customs
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Old 07-30-2003, 03:35 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Fat middle
What I hadn't noticed is that she could return to his natural maiar form but only after Thingol had died because she was somehow tied to him.
I can't find anything that would suggest this, FM. Can you give a quote, please?
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Old 07-30-2003, 06:33 AM   #16
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Sorry, sorry I read together all the history of Doriath and what I said belonged properly to another chaprter (Of the Ruin of Doriath). This is the quote anyway:
Quote:
For Melian was of the divine race of the Valar, and she was a Maia of great power and wisdom; but for love of Elw Singollo she took upon herself the form of the Elder Children of Ilvatar, and in that union she became bound by the chain and trammels of the flesh of Arda. In that form she bore to him Lthien Tinviel; and in that form she gained a power over the substance of Arda, and by the Girdle of Melian was Doriath defended through long ages from the evils without. But now Thingol lay dead, and his spirit had passed to the halls of Mandos; and with his death a change came also upon Melian.
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Old 07-30-2003, 11:30 AM   #17
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Thanks! Funny, I've read that passage several times but I've never read it the way you did. I've always assumed that she could have rejected her body at any time if she had wanted it, but she never would because of her great love for Thingol. Still I think it's a matter of interpretation.
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Old 07-30-2003, 11:47 AM   #18
Fat middle
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Yes, I've always read it like you (and possibly is the surest way of interpretation) but
Quote:
she became bound by the chain and trammels of the flesh of Arda
is a very deep sentence. I like how all that "philosophy" of the elves joins "flesh" and "spirit".

Though Tolkien says that the relations between fa and hroa in elves is different to what happens in men, I cannot help to think that some of his ideas about those relations wanted to say us something about the nature of men. After all, he said somewhere that elves were not inhuman but with them pretended to remark some aspects of the human nature.

Sorry, I think I'm going too far from topic...
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