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Thread: Why Didn't the Valar Come to the Rescue of the Noldor Sooner

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Grondmaster originally opened this thread by pulling together a number of posts taken from other threads. His post was lost lost during the transfer to the new site but I have retrieved the data here.

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This thread has been split off from the discussion under The House of Finwe: what's your opinion?

virumor posted on 22/11/2003 at 01:03

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: All the Noldor have dealt with a lot of grief and pain when they were in Beleriand, almost all great members of the three houses who went to Beleriand died dramatically... Fanor and his sons, Fingolfin and his children, Finarfin's children safe for Galadriel,...

it is very striking for me how cruel and unforgiving the curse of the Valar was. The Noldor just wanted to avenge Finw and get those Silmarils back immediately - but the Valar did nothing to help them so they went off... I still don't understand the Valar's actions right after Morgoth darkened Valinor and stole the Silmarils.

They should've acted immediately and helped the Noldor, instead of just whining about the Trees. Of course, it was a big loss and a lot of work spoiled, but still the Noldor, Eru's children were a bit more important than that, weren't they ?? (apparently not)


Aul posted on 23/11/2003 at 11:47

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: Well you all know that the Sils are crucial for the fate of Arda....because of the Light that can restore the trees....and if the Sils are so important for the world think about how the death of the trees felt for all the Valar....and now there was only darkness.....or something like this....ahh maybe Im blabbering again

oh well...see ya chums


virumor posted on 23/11/2003 at 13:15

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: Yeh, the Silmarils were indeed crucial for the fate of Arda... which makes it even more strange why the Valar didn't act immediately and bring a huge army to Beleriand to get Morgoth out of Angband.

Shouldn't be that troublesome, since at that time Morgoth wouldn't have got the time to breed a huge army of Orcs, Dragons and Wargs. He only had a bunch of Balrogs by then.


JonnieA posted on 24/11/2003 at 19:17

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: I agree that from a purely logical point of view the attitude of the Valar to Morgoth's treachery is rather strange. Tolkien probably would have suggested that they had to preserve 'the balance of things', which is OK up to a point but which mainly serves as a plot device to prevent the story just becoming one in which the Valar kick the world around and everyone else dies like flies. Without such a concept there wouldn't be much of a story so I am all in favour, but it is difficult to avoid some loose ends cropping up.

I get the impression that perhaps some people here are the sort that would happily swallow the lies Morgoth spread in Valinor - indeed a lot of this thread is a perfect example of this. Smear a little mud around, play up someone's bad points and pretty soon it is easy to miss who the real villain of the piece is!


Valedhelgwath posted on 24/11/2003 at 20:31

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: That last point is quite true, Jonnie. Morgoth did spend a lot of time and effort spreading lies amongst the Noldor trying to pull them apart from within. In almost everything that went wrong for the Noldor, you can see Morgoth lurking in the background pulling the strings.

They bit back harder than he had expected, but he almost achieved what he had set out to do with them. There were very few Noldor left by the time he had been defeated.

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: I agree that from a purely logical point of view the attitude of the Valar to Morgoth's treachery is rather strange. Tolkien probably would have suggested that they had to preserve 'the balance of things', which is OK up to a point but which mainly serves as a plot device to prevent the story just becoming one in which the Valar kick the world around and everyone else dies like flies. Without such a concept there wouldn't be much of a story


There are several places in Tolkien's work where it is easy to say, "it would have been so much easier if so and so had happened." If that is how JRR had written it, however, the books would have been far shorter and nowhere near as interesting.

With respect to the Valar's attitude after the slaying of the Two Trees, one could argue they were preserving the balence of things by not becoming involved. They had fought Morgoth once before, remember, and had torn up huge chunks of the world. They were unwilling to do this again until they knew the where the Secondborn were located. To them, it would be an unforgivable tragedy if they had accidently wiped out Men before they even awoke. With the powers they would be wielding in a war with Morgoth, the chances of this happening could have been unacceptably high.

I do not wish to turn this thread in any way political, but I think it is worth looking at Tolkien's own life here too. In many of his works, we can see events of his own life coming out in his writings. I have always felt that while sitting in his WW1 trench watching his friends die (equivalent to the long siege of Angmar), America's reluctance to join the allies would have had an influence on his writing. I have often felt in this case, the Valar were equivalent to the American superpower which did not come to the rescue as early as would have been liked.

Please, if commenting on this thought, be aware it is not a critisism on any nation, and that this is not what we are discussing here. What I am trying to highlight is how Tolkien, as one man, would have perhaps perceived things and how they may have influenced his writing.


virumor posted on 25/11/2003 at 09:42

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: I do not wish to turn this thread in any way political, but I think it is worth looking at Tolkien's own life here too. In many of his works, we can see events of his own life coming out in his writings. I have always felt that while sitting in his WW1 trench watching his friends die (equivalent to the long siege of Angmar), America's reluctance to join the allies would have had an influence on his writing. I have often felt in this case, the Valar were equivalent to the American superpower which did not come to the rescue as early as would have been liked.


Well, i don't know. The Valar didn't come to rescue because the Noldor left Valinor against their will and permission. And they even cursed the Noldor.
In WW1, America only joined the war because a German submarine made the Lusitania sink. Kinda different.


Valedhelgwath posted on 25/11/2003 at 20:28

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:Well, i don't know. The Valar didn't come to rescue because the Noldor left Valinor against their will and permission. And they even cursed the Noldor.
In WW1, America only joined the war because a German submarine made the Lusitania sink. Kinda different.


Obviously the details were different, Vir. As far as I am aware Melkor did not have any submarines with which to sink a Noldorian liner carrying Valar passengers. It was the general feeling I was trying to portray.

The Valar, like the Americans, were a superpower force unwilling at the time to come to the assistance of their allies. For your average Noldor warrior fighting the evil forces of Melkor, this would have probably had a similar feel to the British Tommie waiting for the arrival of American reinforcements. At the time America was becoming increasingly isolationist, attempting to remove itself from European politics. This is similar to how the Valar appeared to act when Melkor first killed the trees. Thay seemed to just withdraw into themselves and go into denial.

Obviously, you are not going to see direct links (Field Marshal Feanor Haig???), as those direct links are not there. I'm just suggesting the situation Tolkien found himself in could have spurred the story in his mind. Whether he intended any comparison to the real world or not, the situation could have caused it to set root in his subconscious. After all, we do know other events and people reflected in the characters and places he described.


JonnieA posted on 26/11/2003 at 22:27

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: What a great thread this is! So many interesting comments, but how to address them all...?

Val brings up an excellent point about the Valar being like the Americans...I must agree! I have always taken Valinor to be a pointer towards America: a distant land in the far west, untroubled by the world and very powerful.

Another interesting relationship for me arises when you go back even further to an Anglo-Saxon viewpoint (as almost everyone does when discussing Tolkien). To the Anglo-Saxons, the 'lost' people that had taught them civilisation, but been chewed up in wars against rampaging hordes and had retreated from their land was the Romans. So maybe (for me at least) there is a big parallel between the Noldor and the Romans - both highly organised, bringing technology and culture to uneducated tribes but then fading from the story as their power and numbers diminish, until their language is almost all that remains. (I realise I am getting a bit off-topic here.)


virumor posted on 27/11/2003 at 11:32

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: Another interesting relationship for me arises when you go back even further to an Anglo-Saxon viewpoint (as almost everyone does when discussing Tolkien). To the Anglo-Saxons, the 'lost' people that had taught them civilisation, but been chewed up in wars against rampaging hordes and had retreated from their land was the Romans. So maybe (for me at least) there is a big parallel between the Noldor and the Romans - both highly organised, bringing technology and culture to uneducated tribes but then fading from the story as their power and numbers diminish, until their language is almost all that remains. (I realise I am getting a bit off-topic here.)


I'd say the Romans are more like the Numenorans...conquering lands and bringing the ppl of this lands the Numeran culture...teaching them their languages. And later on, even enslaving some ppl.

To me, Numenor is like Atlantis. I still don't see Valinor as America, though.


Grondmaster posted on 27/11/2003 at 23:47

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: To me, Numenor is like Atlantis. I still don't see Valinor as America, though.


After holding back in isolationism for the early and middle years of WW I, America came to the aid of England, France, B*lgium, and Italy who were bogged down in trench warfare with the Allied forces of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Their entering the conflict with their fresh manpower and industrial capacity broke the stalemate and eventually lead to the war being won in only a matter of months. This victory was similar to that when the Valor broke the stalemate between the Elves and Melkor at the end of the First Age. And both Valinor and America were in the West.

Yes Numenor was like Atlantis, but with the Romans being more like the Numenoreans in their effect on the men of England culturally.

Could the early Druids have been like the Istari? And wasn't there a land called something like Hy-Brazil in the mythology of Europe?

Wow! We have really strayed from the topic, but with a very interesting new subject. I should probably try to split it into a thread of its own if it looks like it has legs.


virumor posted on 28/11/2003 at 14:19

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: OK if you try hard you can find some resemblances, but in WW1 all battles were fought OUTSIDE Germany, whilst in War of Wrath battles were fought around and inside Angband. And Morgoth was captured, while i don't think that the Kaiser Wilhelm experienced this too. And in WW1 there wasn't just Germany but also Turkey and Italy which were considered 'the enemy' and vice versa.


Eryan posted on 28/11/2003 at 22:32

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: Tolkien world and ancient Romans... this is a fruitful topic to discuss about!
Right now I am equally mad about the history of ancient Rome as about the history of ME! So many fascinating stories and glimpses of stories! And certainly many of them must have provide an inspiration for Tolkien. Horatius One-Eyed and his heroic defense of the bridge leading to Rome is almost a parallel to the story of the defense of Osgiliath by Boromir, Faramir and their few companions!
Perhaps it would indeed be well to make a separate thread for the discussion of that topic?


Valedhelgwath posted on 28/11/2003 at 23:38

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: I still don't see Valinor as America, though.


I don't either, Vir. What I was trying to explain was the possible reason why Tolkien had the Valar hang back and leave the Noldor to it. That idea obviously came to him from somewhere. What I was suggesting was that it was possibly placed subliminally in his mind during his time in the trenches when America was reluctant to join in the war. As he was writing early extracts of the Silmarillion at this time, it could have materialised in what he was writing. I'm pretty sure he did not intend using a comparison with America, but subconsciously the idea could have sprung from his own experiences.


virumor posted on 29/11/2003 at 00:05

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: I agree, it is a possibility. Whether it is true or not, we will never know.

I think we should split this thread right now because we are already off-topic for quite a bit now
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Grondmaster posts here and now:

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: If I split this wrongly or if you have a better subject name for it let me know.






I think you've managed to pull out all the relevant posts, Grondy. I'm not sure how far it will go now though, as we seem to have covered a lot of ground already. I like the comparison between Numenor and the Roman's though. That is what they always reminded me of.
Do you know that at first, Tolkien did not draw a real distinction between our real world and his fictional worlds? In the History of ME books we can find allusions to real cities: Rome, Babylon, Ninivah, Troy! Read this ("Book of the Lost Tales 2"):
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Glory dwelt in that City of Gondolin of the Seven Names, and its ruin was the most dread of all the sacks of cities upon the face of Earth. Nor Bablon, nor Ninwi, nor the towers of Trui, nor all the many takings of Rum that is greatest among Men, saw such terror as fell one day upon Amon Gwareth in the kindred of Gnomes

Rome is called "Rum" by Men and Elves (according to Chris Tolkien this is the Old English version of that word), and Elves also call it Magbar: ("Book of the Lost Tales 2"):
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Never else did so great a copncourse of elfin ships and white-winged galleons sail to the setting sun as in those days when the ancient Men of th South set first their mighty feet upon the soil of Luthien - the Men whose lords sat in the city of power that Elves and Men have called Rum (but the Elves alone do know as Magbar)



[Edited on 30/11/2003 by Eryan]
Interesting quote, Eryan. I have read BOLT2 a few times but have forgotten that. For me, this backs up my feeling that (whether conciously or not) in Tolkien's work the Noldor fit the Roman model rather well. From the point of view of the Anglo-Saxons they have vastly superior technology, their language is used to record all histories and lore, and they introduce a religion (knowledge of the Valar, anyone?) that lasts and lasts. I realise the Numenoreans behave more like empire-building Romans, but for me the cultural factors are more important.
I certainly have an image of the Nodlor fighting in a Roman fashion - very disciplined, very scientific and soldier-for-soldier better than anyone else can get close to.
When I read LOTR for the first time, ancient ruins encountered by hobbits on their way from Shire to Rivendell reminded me very strongly the remnants of ancient Roman culture in the North of Europe. Especially, the ruined fortifications between the Old Forest and Bree reminded me the remnants of the Hadrian's wall. The old highway and the ruins on the Weathertop also had for me that ancient Roman feeling. The fallen kingdom of Arnor reminded me of the Western part of the Roman Empire, and Gondor was an equivalent of Constantinople and the Eastern part of the Empire which existed still up to the XVth century. But Noldor never reminded me of ancient Romans. They were Elves, and Elves always had for me that Celtic air, poetry rather than shrewd prose, if you see what I mean! Smile Smilie

[Edited on 2/12/2003 by Eryan]
Isn't it great how we can all be reading the same books, and can discuss and agree upon detail when we talk and write things down, but in our heads the pictures we hold are completely different?

When I first read LOTR the ruins evoked medieval ruins, the sort of thing you see at National Trust sites in the UK. I supose I have always visualised Middle-Earth as an Anglo-Saxon culture filtered through later Medieval eyes, in the way that King Arthur (probably a 5th Century warrior) is usually portrayed in armour developed 500 years later.

One thing I have always felt uncomfortable with is the influence of eastern culture on any portrayals of Middle-Earth. The LOTR films seem to suggest Elves are some sort of sub-ninjas, weilding curved samuri-style swords and with their hair in top-knots. I see tham as the ultimate incarnation of late-Medieval knights, with full plate armour, straight swords and long harir worn loose. I know these can seem like minor details but in the minds eye they can evoke either just the right or just the wrong emotions.

For me the Celts are the Dunlendings and their forebears, who were displaced by the Dunedain and Rohirrim just as the Celts were forced aside first by the Romans and then by the Anglo-Saxons.

Your concept of Gondor as a reflection of Byzantium is very interesting - the last independent part of a once-mighty empire, beset on all sides and clinging to the last residues of their culture - I admit there are some strong points there; but personally as you can probably guess I am uncomfortable with moving too far from a purely English-based culture for the Elves, Edain and Northmen.

(This post comes with apologies to non-English members who must find all this rather tedious. Any reflections based on eastern European or any other cultural groupings are most welcome!)