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Thread: Of Celeborn & Galadriel

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Regardless of how and when Celeborn and Galadriel had met each other, as narrated in the Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales into great detail, there is something puzzling about their relationship. Undoubtedly, considering Tolkien's background, their unison was the Elven equivalent of a marriage amongst Men:

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'Your quest is known to us,' said Galadriel, looking at Frodo. `But we will not here speak of it more openly. Yet not in vain will it prove, maybe, that you came to this land seeking aid, as Gandalf himself plainly purposed. For the Lord of the Galadhrim is accounted the wisest of the Elves of Middle-earth, and a giver of gifts beyond the power of kings. He has dwelt in the West since the days of dawn, and I have dwelt with him years uncounted; for ere the fall of Nargothrond or Gondolin I passed over the mountains, and together through ages of the world we have fought the long defeat.
('I it was who first summoned the White Council. And if my designs had not gone amiss, it would have been governed by Gandalf the Grey, and then mayhap things would have gone otherwise. But even now there is hope left. I will not give you counsel, saying do this, or do that. For not in doing or contriving, nor in choosing between this course and another, can I avail; but only in knowing what was and is, and in part also what shall be. But this I will say to you: your Quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail, to the ruin of all. Yet hope remains while all the Company is true.')
(from FOTR, chapter Lóthlorien)

Yet in the next chapter, Farewell to Lórien, one can find something that seems to indicate that there was something unconventional, a sad element in their relationship:

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Now Galadriel rose from the grass, and taking a cup from one of her maidens she filled it with white mead and gave it to Celeborn.
'Now it is time to drink the cup of farewell,' she said. `Drink, Lord of the Galadhrim! And let not your heart be sad though night must follow noon, and already our evening draweth nigh.'

One might argue that here Galadriel is speaking generally about the fate of Elves in Middle-earth, yet a similar indication can be found in the chapter Many Partings in ROTK :

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Then Aragorn took leave of Celeborn and Galadriel; and the Lady said to him: 'Elfstone, through darkness you have come to your hope, and have now all your desire. Use well the days!'
But Celeborn said: 'Kinsman, farewell! May your doom be other than mine, and your treasure remain with you to the end!'

Thus, there is something about their relationship that has always puzzled me. Why is it that both Galadriel & Celeborn indicate that they might be separated in the future, and what are the reasons for this?

I am not much accustomed with Elven marriage, yet I take it that though Galadriel & Celeborn were married in Beleriand/Middle-earth, they were not yet "officially" married in the eyes of the Eldar - since Galadriel was born in Valinor under the Light of the Trees, it might be that their marriage would only become official with Eärwen's and Finarfin's consent (indeed, Finarfin did not join the Rebellion but stayed in Tirion).

One must not forget that Galadriel was the only one of the House of Finwë who married someone not of the Eldar (provided, of course, that one follows the story as narrated in the Silmarillion).

But at any rate, even if the above is true, then why would Celeborn speak about a 'doom'? After all, him having married Galadriel without her parents' permissions seems hardly important - in fact, if the parents are absent, their consent is given by others (Melian & Elu Thingol, for instance), so this should hardly pose a problem.

Clearly, the reason for why Galadriel & Celeborn parted at the end of the Third Age -Galadriel left with Elrond, Gandalf and the other Ringbearers, whilst Celeborn still lingered in Middle-earth, first in his newly founded Woodland Realm, and later in Rivendell), should be something entirely different... something on which Tolkien unfortunately didn't expand in any of his writings for I think it is a particulary puzzling concept.

Due to lack of further information, one might indeed conclude that Celeborn could not yet part together with is beloved spouse before Galadriel had obtained her consent from her parents - which seems quite an insipid reason at best.
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One must not forget that Galadriel was the only one of the House of Finwë who married someone not of the Eldar (provided, of course, that one follows the story as narrated in the Silmarillion).


What do you mean by that? I thought all Elves except for the Avari were Eldar...

And I've never quite understood why Galadriel left first without Celeborn, but I supposed that Celeborn had to stay for Thranduil, so they could ally and cleanse Mirkwood and all that, whilst Galadriel had to go with the Ringbearers because Ringbearers had to go together.
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What do you mean by that? I thought all Elves except for the Avari were Eldar...

Initially the term 'Eldar' was used for all Quendi who partook on the grand voyage into the West, but after some Teleri forsook the journey, twas only used for Quendi who reached Valinor or had seen the Light of the Two Trees.

Hence the Avari, together with the Nandor, Sindar, Laiquendi and Falmari were not counted amonst the Eldar anymore, but instead amongst the Umanyar together with the Avari, or amongst the Moriquendi together with the Avari.

You may want to review your Tolkien lore in the Silmarillion, my dear Cloveress.

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And I've never quite understood why Galadriel left first without Celeborn, but I supposed that Celeborn had to stay for Thranduil, so they could ally and cleanse Mirkwood and all that, whilst Galadriel had to go with the Ringbearers because Ringbearers had to go together.

Nay, that happened already shortly after Sauron's downfall, when Celeborn sent his armies outside Lothlórien and conquered Dol Guldur, after which Galadriel destroyed the walls of the fortress. Not long after that, the Galadhrim's armies met with Thranduil's armies in the middle of Mirkwood.

I take it that Celeborn was just a little too uxorious. After all, see how he reacted (or rather, not reacted) to a Dwarf's audacity in wooing his spouse. If it were me, I'd cut off the impudent's head, if it stood a bit further from the ground that is.
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You may want to review your Tolkien lore in the Silmarillion, my dear Cloveress.


My Tolkien lore told me that all who embarked on the journey West were Eldar. And I do not recall reading of the "later" definition of Eldar, so my ignorance is forgiven in my eyes.

So about when did Celeborn leave for the West? We know it's after Galadriel and before Arwen's death...
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So about when did Celeborn leave for the West? We know it's after Galadriel and before Arwen's death...

We do not know. Tis only mentioned he went to live in Rivendell after a few years in his new Woodland Realm.

Maybe he did not even leave for the West, fearing the wrath of the House of Finwë that one of the jewels of the Noldor had been stolen by some garden lord.

Really, what is the house of Elmo but a thatched barn where brigands drink in the reek, and their brats roll on the floor among their dogs?
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Maybe he did not even leave for the West, fearing the wrath of the House of Finwë that one of the jewels of the Noldor had been stolen by some garden lord.


Forest lord, I don't think he had the gardening spirit until Galadriel came...
cloveress is right he was cave dweller before....
Indeed he had been an inhabitant of Menegroth, at least according to the Silmarillion.

But who knows what he spoke to the darkness, alone, in the bitter watches of the night, when all his life seemed shrinking, and the walls of his grotto closing in about him, a hutch to trammel some wild thing in?
Mayhaps Celeborn stayed behind because someone had to mind his grandchildren now that both their parents had gone back to the olde country. His grandaughter was someone else's problem, but the twins were still young enough to require an authority figure lurking in the background. Elf Rolling Eyes Smilie
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One must not forget that Galadriel was the only one of the House of Finwë who married someone not of the Eldar (provided, of course, that one follows the story as narrated in the Silmarillion).


The Sindar are Eldar however (and the language Eldarin).

As for Celeborn staying in Middle-earth when Galadriel departed, Tolkien had desired an Epilogue for The Lord of the Rings, a version of which includes...

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'Before he went Mr. Frodo said that my time maybe would come. I can wait. I think maybe we haven't said farewell for good. But I can wait. I have learned that much from the Elves at any rate. They are not so troubled about time. And so I think Celeborn is still happy among his trees, in an Elvish way. His time hasn't come, and he isn't tired of his land yet. When he is tired he can go.' JRRT The Epilogue
My LOTR book has no epilogue. Is it from History of Middle-earth?

EDIT : You are right about the Eldar. I always take those for Elves who had been to the Undying Lands.
Yes, in The History of Middle-earth, in Sauron Defeated.

Also, in one letter Tolkien mentioned: 'A lot of this work will be done in a final chapter where Sam is found reading out of an enormous book to his children, and answering all their questions about what happened to everybody (that will link up with his discourse on the nature of stories in the stairs of Kirith Ungol).' JRRT

And in another letter he explained that the epilogue '... has been so universally condemned that I shall not insert it.' though in 1955 he also stated: 'I still feel the picture incomplete without something on Samwise and Elanor, but I could not devise anything that would not have destroyed the ending, more than the hints (possibly sufficient) in the appendices.' JRRT
Hammond and Scull note regarding these words (Aragorn's treasure and etc): 'He is expressing the hope that Arwen will never leave Aragorn, as he knows that Galadriel will soon be leaving him, to return to Valinor across the Sea.' (RC)

A better quote than the one I gave above, perhaps, from Sauron Defeated

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'Elanor was silent for some time before she spoke again. 'I did not understand at first what Celeborn meant when he said goodbye to the King,' she said. 'But I think I do now. He knew that Lady Arwen would stay, but that Galadriel would leave him. I think it was very sad for him. And for you, dear Sam-dad'. Her hand felt for his, and his brown hand clasped her slender fingers. 'For your treasure went too. I am glad Frodo of the Ring saw me, but I wish I could remember seeing him.'


JRRT, Epilogue second version. Also...

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'(...) These comments imply that Celeborn could have left Middle-earth with Galadriel if he had wished, and Tolkien's replies to queries from readers seem to confirm this. In his unpublished letter to Eileen Elgar, begun 22 September 1963 he comments that Celeborn and Galadriel were of different kin: Celeborn was of that branch of the Elves that, in the First Age, was so in love with Middle-earth that they had refused the call of the Valar to go to Valinor; he had never seen the Blessed Realm. Now he remained until he had seen the coming of the Dominion of Men. But to an immortal Elf, for whom time was not as it is to mortals, the period in which he was parted from Galadriel would seem brief.' Hammond And Scull


Celeborn the Refuser in 1963?

JRRT might have forgotten what he had published in the 1950s.
I always thought "May your doom be other than mine" is referring to not Galadriel's leaving (because, as was pointed out above, this would be a "short" parting, as Elves reckon time), but rather that it refers to the fact that his (and Galadriel's) Kingdom/Queendom/Elvendom would diminish and end while he still lived. For the lady one loves is indeed a treasure, but so is the realm that one rules together with her, especially all it's people and customs and architecture and character.

I recall that part of the Elvish tendency was to preserve things such that the dwelling places of Elves seemed timeless to those with shorter lives. Surely Celeborn knew what would happen when the one ring was destroyed and the three rings were no longer employed as they had been for the past who knows how many centuries, and it has always seemed to me that this is what is meant by "night must follow noon, and our evening is nigh" (or whatever the quote is).
I like both interpretations: the romantic and the politic. Is there any reason both could not have been implied?
That seems possible too.