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Thread: Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin

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It was sung, but that doesn't necessarily mean it was so.
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But in after days it was sung that Tuor alone of mortal Men was numbered among the elder race, and was joined with the Noldor, whom he loved; and his fate is sundered from the fate of Men.

It's written nowhere that Eärendil actually met his parents again; hence I think they didn't even make it to Valinor alive.

And indeed, the Valar were able to prolong the lives of Men, for they did so with the Edain after the First Age:
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To the Fathers of Men of the three faithful houses rich reward also was given. Eönwë came among them and taught them; and they were given wisdom and power and life more enduring than any others of mortal race have possessed.
Hence I still hold with the convenient view Tuors lifespan was extended to essentially that of Arda, and he will perish with it. A semantic point, but it gives the Valar an out without violating Erus laws or revoking a the Gift of Man not theirs to take. Unless of course they got Eru to revoke it, but it seems shocking he would. IIRC that was the same deal with Eriol/Aelfwine after he consumed Miruvor (so THAT'S why you don't like him. ;-p) Again I say, surely Tuor is worthy of at least as good a fate as someone whose only accomplishment was lucking his way through the Valars blockade to Eressea. Yes, I know it's "only" HoME and not canon, but it gives insight into the Professors thought process, and whether Eriol or Aelfwine, in every incarnation of the story, this is consistent, and largely the basis for my conclusions regarding Tuor; the Valar nor Noldor could revoke Eriols gift, and he must die with Arda. The same is reasonable to apply to Tuor, with greater cause; Eriol loses friends, while Tuor is lost to his whole family.
I was going thru one of the most devestating times of my life when I read the Lord of the Rings. Right after that I read Unfinished Tales and then Silmarillion and by the time I received for Christmas JRR's letters to his publishers, family and friends, I found that my life had completely changed and my struggles in a certain area were over.That is how profound this author's words were upon my mind and heart.
Of all the works though it was Unfinished tales that really answered the cry of my heart and gave me courage to go on and fight and win inch by inch.
I tend to think like BlackSword about the role of the gods, they don't interest me much as I being mortal cannot relate to them that much. Interesting absolutely but not to me essential to....anything.
I read Unfinished Tales before Sil and it completely changed my life. That is the absolute truth. I was struggling with some very very serious things and choices, choices that meant no turning back and having to take that journey not knowing if I would make it.
After reading the story of Tuor I was so impressed and moved that I made the hardest choice of my life and it was the right one.
The imagery, the beauty and the majestic lonliness yet preoccupation with the quest just overwhelmed me with emotion.
That moment when he is in the hall and sees the armour, that feeling I got, unbelievable.
It is one story I wish was completed and a movie made out of it by the finest and most gifted people in the world.
Tuor's coming to Gondolin was indeed a great story, but I've always enjoyed the latter part, the Fall of Gondolin in the HoME. It describes many of the houses of lords in Gondolin and finally, the majestic fall of Turgon, whostayed with his city til the end. Now I know that HoME is not canon, but I don't think Tolkien gives us such detailed information on Gondolin in any other piece of work, so I'll buy this part of the story.

When you read of Tuor's coming to Gondolin, you get the feeling that he is noble and that his fate would be, well, noble. perhpas tinged with sorrow, too, since he has lost his kin to the outside world. That meeting with Turin is really touching to me. To think that they would never see each other again, being such close kin, and their fathers being so close! And then I read Turin's tale and I feel that the two cousins are even more estranged in terms of Fate. But Tuor's coming to Gondolin was mythical, yet also uneasily peaceful.

When you read about Tuor and some remaining Gondolindrim fleeing the city, you get the powerful, combative Tuor and lords of Gondolin. And that part's filled with sorrow too, but more intense, because you really feel sorry for Tuor, who gave up his kin and the freedom to wander the outside world to build a happy life in Gondolin. Now you see his joy and home (for Gondolin was home to him) being torn apart and that now he is a refugee. It is heartrending.
Exactly the same for me, Cloveress.
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I am certain that the Valar would be able to lengthen their lives a considerable bit of time, far beyond that which the Kings of Numenor of old were prone to live, ere the shadow fell. There's nothing saying they couldn't have lived for several thousand years in Valinor.


True they do have the power to extend lives, but it is a power that they are only recorded doing once for the Edain. So therefore i don't believe Bilbo, Frodo or Sam were giving that power. I think they were just able to live through the remainder of their day, in Valinor, feeling content and at peace. Frodo was only in his 50's when he was granted this gift, so he still gets to live at least another 50 years. Although 50 years in Valinor might be so joyous that it may seem like a fleeting second, as all enjoyable times seem to rush right by us.
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So therefore i don't believe Bilbo, Frodo or Sam were giving that power. I think they were just able to live through the remainder of their day, in Valinor, feeling content and at peace.


That is the most likely case, but it's still nice to think the Valar would extend their lives. But Bilbo wouldn't live too much longer if that's so, maybe ten years at most. But just being in Valinor, you would live longer than you would in ME, unless the Valar did otherwise.

Number 300!!!
I think this is food for the On Hobbits going to Aman thread. If one visits that thread, one might find the excerpt from JRRT's letters where the professor writes that the Hobbits' lives would indeed be extended, but no indefinitely.

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the professor writes that the Hobbits' lives would indeed be extended, but no indefinitely.


But their lives could be extended all the way to the Last Battle. We can be sure that they will die, but we can't be sure when they'll die. This topic could be spoken about for years, but because Tolkien didn't say anything definite, it will always come down to the same thing: they will die, but when? And unfortunately that 'when' can't be answered. Though I think that Tolkien may have done that deliberately, just as he left other things to be questioned.
Believe what you want to believe, my friend.

Bilbo & Frodo would lay themselves down in peace when they felt their time was there, like the Númenoran Kings of old before their Fall, and like King Elessar. That's all one needs to know.
I think I had rather a crush on Tuor. I loved that story so much and wish wish wish it was completely finished and a movie. sigh...........of course no one in Hollywood in my opinion would be fit to be him. Now if any of you , who are fast becoming my heros, would like to try out someday, I should not be depressed .
I agree with Virumor there about the Hobbits in the West.

I note also the supposition found in Tolkien's Aman (see Aman and Mortal Men in Morgoth's Ring) regarding the hypothetical example of a Man growing up in Aman but then not ageing, and what is believed (in this circumstance) concerning the harmony of the Man's fea
Oh cool, I wsh I can go to Aman for I still die but I don't age! Now is Tour and the Fall of Gondolin in The Book of Lost Tales or The War of the Jewels????
Glorifindel, that was a hypothetical example, as I noted. To explain it a bit better (but still briefly) the basic notion is that if a mortal were not to age in Aman his fea and hroa (roughly equivalent to 'spirit' and 'body') would ultimately not be united and at peace, but would eventually be opposed, to the great pain of both.

The Later Tuor (or 'Of Tuor And His Coming To Gondolin') is an updated long version of the Fall of Gondolin, though abandoned basically before Tuor comes within the city. It's found in the book Unfinished Tales, not to be confused with The Book of Lost Tales (published in two volumes) however, which contains a very early version of the Fall of Gondolin, concerning which Christopher Tolkien describes...

'It [The Book of Lost Tales version] is written in the extreme archaistic style that my father employed at that time, and it inevitably embodies conceptions out of keeping with the world of The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion in its published form.'

Christopher Tolkien, introduction to Of Tuor And His Coming To Gondolin, Unfinished Tales.
I also loved the Unfinished Tales, especially "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin". For some reason I can't explain, I've always liked the tales of Gondolin. Maybe it's because of the swords that Gandalf, Bilbo and the Dwarves found in the troll cave in The Hobbit. (Isn't it strange that Gandalf couldn't read the runes on the swords?) Or maybe it's because it was the last city-kingdom of the Exiled Elves to fall to Morgoth, and only because of treason.
I also enjoy the chapter on the Palantiri and how they worked. I still wonder if they got any cable channels. Smile Smilie
Putting the detailed story about the Fall of Gondolin in the Silmarillion would've been preferable over the summary/story narrating Tuor coming to Gondolin. One is only granted with a few lines denoting how Maeglin laid hands on Idril & Eärendil, after which it is almost hastily added that Tuor saved the day. Bah! The only interesting part of this entire story is Tuor unwittingly crossing paths with his nephew.

A nice addition would have been an intricately detailed story about the events leading to the Fall of Gondolin, i.e. the courting of Celebrindal by a boorish Man, and Maeglin's failure to deal with this transgression - which lead to his betrayal. It could've been a veritable Wuthering Heights.
Well, but not in the Quenta Silmarillion proper itself, as that tradition is supposed to include the short prose version. Tolkien noted to himself (in question form) if the Narn e·Dant Gondolin ar Orthad en·Êl should not be given in appendices to the Silmarillion, with Christopher Tolkien noting the question 'was presumably distinguishing between long and short forms of the tales.'

Problem is, no such updated long form exists (beyond the point in the early fifties version when Tuor comes to Gondolin), and the editorial manipulation required to update the very early version was not something Christopher Tolkien was going to engage in (nor ever will, it seems).

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I don't consider that Eriol thing to be part of the canon.

Grondmaster replied: I agree, The Lost Tales are some of JRR Tolkien's oldest writings that he had not yet updated into his more current vision of his world. They only got resurrected and published by his son as a means to earn even more royalties. That's my current humble opinion. Am I wrong here?


Elfwine the mariner appears in texts as late as 1958-60, though his role in any ultimate sense is hazy and appears (at least) to have been ultimately dropped in any case. I must disagree with respect to Christopher Tolkien's main motivation however, considering that, had more royalties been the principle issue, I think that there were arguably easier paths to greater heaps of gold (agreeing with the end of Mr. Hicklin's statement below).

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William Cloud Hicklin wrote (in early 2008): 'Rayner Unwin originally committed to just four volumes, which CT envisioned (at first) as the Lost Tales, the Lays, and a sort of UT-style miscellany. Unwin expected to break even at best, even though no advance or pre-profit royalties were paid (similar to the LR thirty years before). CT's motivation was as much as anything to respond to many readers (like me) who had been asking about the Lost Tales etc and wanted to know if they would ever see the light of day. (The foreword to UT contains an oblique reference to the possibility).

However, the Lost Tales sold much better than expected, selling out the initial print run and I believe cracking the lower end of the bestseller list, and the project was expanded, piecemeal. The Lord of the Rings was never part of the original plan, and even when he finished The Lost Road CT still thought the LR would take only two volumes! It was also as I understand it a rather late decision to include the complete texts of the Annals of Aman and Grey Annals together with the post-LR Quenta Silmarillion, making two volumes where one had been envisioned; and Vol XII didn't become a history of the Appendices until CT was already in the middle of it.

Vols 1, 2, and 6-9 made a profit in their initial hardcover release. 4 and 12 lost money. The rest just about broke even. Of course, their continued availability in paperback has improved the numbers slightly: but CT has not nor ever intended to make any significant amount of money on what was simply a labor of devotion and scholarly interest. If he really wanted to coin his father into gold there were much, much, easier, sleazier and more lucrative things he could have done!' WC Hicklin


The History of Middle-Earth is really an amazing feat when you really consider the complexity involved.

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Morambar wrote: '... I prefer to accept anything in HoME provided it doesn't conflict with established canon. So we might argue about whether it's Eriol or Aelfwine, but there's little to argue about SOMEONE making it to Eressea unless we 1) think the Red Book, in a readible language, stuck around a LONG time or 2) pin it all on the Notion Club Papers.'


I'm very interested in the issue of transmission myself, and I have a soft spot for the Elfwine framework too, but that said, I don't think it's necessarily needed that someone sail to Eressea. And the implication (at least), from Tolkien-published sources, appears to be that some copy did survive.

It is a long time yes, but all the more intriguing for it, perhaps.

Charles Noad wrote a very interesting piece, in which he ultimately looks at ideas in The Notion Club Papers that might make it possible for the framing device of Elfwine and Pengolodh to be preserved (with Bilbo's translations). I won't go into detail here but his thoughts basically revolve around the myths of the Two Trees and the once Flat World being a 'true description of reality' -- within the context of a true mythical past visited via the more spiritual means suggested by Ramer in The Notion Club Papers.

In this context Noad writes: 'Since the Hobbits would seem to occupy the same place that the 'faded' Elves did in the earliest formulations of the mythology, we could understand why Elfwine made his voyage in the first place. He would have known of the Hobbits as they survived in tenth-century Britain, and, learning from them about the Red Book and its contents (the single volume of Bilbo's and Frodo's memoirs), have been inspired by its hints about the histories of the Elves to seek the Straight Road to the West, there to learn the lore of the Elves and recover it for the race of Men.' Charles Noad, On the Construction of the Silmarillion, published in Tolkien's Legendarium.

In this we (seemingly) have Elfwine interacting with tenth century Hobbits (Sam's descendants?), and he could then arguably not only translate the single volume mentioned, but recover much other lore in Eressea, and translate that into his tongue. Here we arrive at translation into Old English that has to survive to Tolkien's day, possibly now handed down by the descendants of Elfwine himself.

Interesting to me anyway!

I read each and every comment and I must say all of your view points make a thrilling read. I remember when I first read Tuor, I felt I had entered a faiery land so intense and amazing that it gave me a queer feeling somehow.  Each part seemed to be painted across the sky of my mind in rich splendid colors and I remember how long after I had finished, days, weeks, I would see those paintings in my mind; the descriptive writing was so perfect.

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