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Thread: Elvish ruins and Moria

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One thing thats always bothered me is the elvish ruins on the mysterious Doors of Durin and how they contain such a simple riddle to open the door. Now, I understand it was Narvi and Celebrimbor, I think, who built it together. Which would explain the elvish ruins. But....why?

A) Why would the dwarves want to use a simple elvish phrase in a pretty simple riddle to get inside one of their most treasured cities? True this was when they were friendly with elves, but there were other entrances to Moria...did they also need an elvish riddle?

And B) I also read that dwarves were good with languages....but how true is this? Of course you had those who would communicate with the elves for trade and what not, and if so, does that mean most dwarves, of all castes, spoke enough elvish that it was no concern to put it on a mountainside door? I'm sure there's a few but I can't think of a specific example of a dwarf speaking elvish to an elf, only the broad stuff about their interactions.

And C) I mean...come on. The riddle. Yeah it's clever and all, but if you're a riddle master, that's a fairly simple one to analyze. Don't most hobbits love riddles (not just Bilbo)? And tbh I'd think Gandalf would be able to figure it out, if not know already. I know the dwarves are more clever than that...

So...any ideas?

Hey Balrogs. Well the Elvish writing in the Dearven door was a gift between friends, Celebrimor and Durin and their people's. The master Smith, Celebrimbor, made the doors and inscribed them. The simple riddle means that almost any Elf of Dwarf could open them at need, howeve an Orc couldn't. I don't think there's much more to it. I'm sure others will chime in.

I don't think it's stated in the book but I always thought that there was more to the riddle than simply 'speaking' friend. Maybe it only worked if you actually were a friend when you spoke the password. It would make more sense for all the reasons you already stated.

Gimli generally notes that Dwarf doors are not made to be seen when shut, but Gandalf adds that this door was not made to be a secret 'known only to Dwarves' and that...

'... eyes that know what to look for may discover the signs'

It's interesting that no one could see the doors until after Gandalf passed his hands over them, 'muttering words under his breath'. Then the Moon shines, but still they see nothing for a while, and Gandalf notes that the ithildin...

'... sleeps until it is touched by one who speaks words now long forgotten in Middle-earth'

So this is even before the writing is revealed.

Hey Brego, just out of curiosity where did you read that the ruins were inscribed as a gift? And there has to be more to it than that, the dwarves were never that cut and dry!

I actually like Epsiths theory that it isn't as simple as speaking friend and that you actually had to be a "friend," or at least a good enough person the magic could determine you meant no harm, for it to work. Unfortunately I don't think this is stated anywhere, but it eases my concerns slightly on the riddle being so easy.

That is interesting Galin and a very good point. Another great theory on why the riddle was so simple...because to make it simple, you had to know another ancient tongue to make it appear, THEN you had to solve the simple elvish riddle. Makes plenty of sense actually! And fits nicely into the Tolkien way of things.

What about my B though? Anything more on dwarves and other languages though?

Well, Khuzdul being a secret language pretty much meant that they had to communicate in the language of whoever they happened to be trading with. Dwarves are more dependent on trade than any other race on middle earth because they don't produce much, if any food themselves. This is a quote from The Hobbit. It's about the Dwarves of Erebor but I think it likely that all Dwarves had pretty much the same mentality.

Fathers would beg us to take their sons as apprentices, and pay us handsomely, especially in food-supplies, which we never bothered to grow or find for ourselves.

This implies to me that they had to be pretty good with languages and pick them up easily, if only out of necessity. They even take their public names from the language of the place they happen to live in. The Fallohide Hobbits had a reputation of picking up languages easily too btw. They were the first of the Hobbits to learn Westron. So there's a precedence in Tolkien's writing of an entire folk having a talent with languages instead of merely individuals.

Of course, this secrecy about Khuzdul rather came back to bite them because slowly their native language became the language of the places they lived and Khuzdul became a learned language rather than a native one. Personally I find that rather sad.

Well Balrog's your point B is interesting.

The Dwarves,its said, picked up the Elvish Languages easily. However the Elves found it hard to pick up Dwarven languages easily, or not at all.

This could mean that the Elves either found the Dwarves language too difficult, or as I think, the Elves found the Naugrim's language very unlovely and perhaps unnecessary. This could be an example of Elvish narcissism.

Just a thought. Perhaps the Elves let the Naugrim do the work. Either way. The Doors of Durin, were a great example of freiendship between people. This could have been the reason that Galadriel accepted Gimli as an Elf friend. She knew it was possible to break through Ages of drama and misunderstanding.

This could have been the reason that Galadriel accepted Gimli as an Elf friend.

Am I completely wrong here or did the Dwarves of Moria under Durin III attack Sauron together with Galadriel and Elves of Lorien at some point during the first war? Because this would certainly explain Galadriel's willingness to accept Gimli. Gimli is of Durin's line too after all and a descendant of the Dwarves of Moria as they moved to Erebor after the Balrog. The Dwarves of Moria sent an army to Eregion in any case, I'm almost completely sure. Also, wasn't Galadriel allowed to pass through Moria on her way to settle Lorien?

Some of the history you are referring to is from 'Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn'  (CG&C) Epsith.

This text is very much used on the interweb, but Galadriel's history is quite confusing with respect to the Second Age, and it can get forgotten that CG&C is characterized as a 'short and hasty outline, very roughly composed'. And although we can't date it exactly, it seems to be later 1950s.

Going by later notes, there is at least one possible scenario in which Galadriel may even have escaped Eregion before Sauron came there with War -- not to Lorien but to Lindon -- as in one of the two later (but contemporary) descriptions, after Celeborn fortified Lindorinand and so on, he is said to have joined Galadriel in Lindon. Possibly this was connected to hiding the Three after the Elves perceived the designs of Sauron, but that is my speculation.

My more in depth [but not complete] commentary on this [I think fairly problematic] text appears if you follow the link below (I am not 'Sharkey' however) -- not that you or anyone cares to read it... but if you need a sleep aid!

And if the mods allow it Smile Smilie


Actually I seem to have linked to the last post, but there is lots more before this, and not just from me of course.

Thanks Galin! Good stuff, that :-).