Thread: Assignment 5
Chapter 14. Of Beleriand and its Realms.
Chapter 15. Of the Noldor in Beleriand.
Chapter 16. Of Maeglin.
Of Beleriand and its Realms.
This chapter deals with the geography of Beleriand and the realms the elves divided it up into. For some, this chapter may seem a little dry, containing a lot of names and places, but it does set the scene for many battles which occur later. If you are struggling with the geography, there is a map of this area in the following chapter (page 154 in my edition).
Of the Noldor in Beleriand.
This chapter tells how under Ulmo’s guidance Turgon discovered the hidden vale of Tumladen in which he built in secret the city of Gondolin.
So far the Kin-Slaying at Aqualonde has been kept hidden from the Sindar of Middle Earth, but in this chapter Thingol becomes aware of those events through conversations with Galadriel, Finrod and Angrod. Although he is able to forgive Finarfin and Fingolfin’s people of this deed, because they had no hand in it, he bans the speaking of Quenya in his realm. From this point on, Sindarin becomes the spoken tongue of the elves.
This chapter tells the tale of Aredhel, Eol and Maeglin. Aredhel was the sister of Turgon and she dwelt with him in Gondolin, the hidden city. After 200 years, however, she wished to leave the confines of the city, and against Turgon’s better judgement he allowed her to do so. Instead of going to their brother Fingon, though, she went west seeking her friends Celegorm and Curufin, two of the sons of Feanor. Because of the Kin-slaying at Aqualonde, Thingol would not allow her to pass through Doriath, however, and while going through the haunted valleys of Nan Dungortheb she became separated from her escort.
Aredhel made it alone to Celegorm’s land, but the Prince was away hunting. When he did not return, Aredhel took to riding his lands alone, eventually coming to the ancient wood of Nan Elmoth. In the twilight of this land Eol, the Dark Elf lived. A Teleri, Eol disliked the Noldor, but like them he was a great smith, learning his skill from the Dwarves. Seeing Aredhel riding through his woods, he ensnared her with enchantments so that she came to his abode, and there he took her as his wife.
Eol commanded Aredhel to shun the sunlight, and in the twilight world she bore him a son, Maeglin. Like his father, Maeglin became a great smith, and often ventured with Eol to the Dwarven cities. He became restless in the twilight world, though, and against his father’s will he persuaded his mother to flee to Gondolin with him. They came to the hidden city and hearing their tale Turgon gave Maeglin great honours, though in secret it was Turgon’s daughter Idril whom Maeglin coverted the most.
Following them in anger, Eol also came to Gondolin and found his way to the hidden city. Taken before Turgon, Eol was offered honour and friendship, but Eol refused to accept Turgon’s laws. Unable to leave Gondolin now he had found his way there, he threw a poisoned javelin at Maeglin, but Aredhel threw herself in its path. As punishment for her death, Eol was cast off a cliff to his death, but the evil seed had been set in Gondolin. Maeglin grew to be a great Prince, but his hopeless love for Idril clouded whatever joy he may have had.
Although most of these have been mentioned in earlier assignments, here is a list of the key figures who feature in these chapters.
The Noldor Lords Feanor and his half brothers Fingolfin and Finarfin.
The sons of Feanor.
The children of Fingolfin
Fingon, father of Gil-galad
Turgon, father of Idril.
Aredhel, mother of Maeglin.
The Children of Finarfin
Orodreth, father of Finduilas
King Thingol, father of Luthien
Cirdan the Shipwright
Eol the Dark Elf
Denethor, lord of the Nandor (Green elves)
The realms of Beleriand.
Angband – Melkor
Hithlum – Fingolfin and Fingon.
Mithrim – Part of Hithlum in which the greater part of Fingolfin’s people lived.
Dor-lomin – Part of Hithlum to which Fingon was assigned.
Nevrast – Turgon whose home was at the coastal city of Vinyamar before he built Gondolin.
Gondolin – The hidden city of Turgon.
Dorthonion – Forested highland overseen by Angrod and Aegnor who acted as vassals for their brother Finrod Felagund.
Tol Sirion – Island in the Pass of Sirion on which Finrod built the fortress of Minas Tirith. This was later left in the keeping of his brother Orodreth.
Nargothrond – Finrod Felagund’s realm of West Beleriand that stretched from the River Sirion to the sea.
Falas – The coastal region of West Beleriand south of Nevrast. Here the Sindar who still yearned for the sea took Cirdan as their Lord, though Thingol was their king. Most of these people lived in the Havens of Elgarest and Brithombar.
Doriath – Thingol’s hidden Sindar realm, guarded by the Girdle of Melian. Thingol’s home was the Caves of Menegroth, and Doriath could be divided into the forests of Neldoreth, Region, and Nivrim (West March) and the Twilight Meres of Aelin-uial.
Himring – Maedhros as penance for his father’s deeds guarded this hill which was seen to be the most vulnerable area of attack from Melkor’s forces.
Himlad – Celegorm and Curufin guarded this forested land and more importantly the Pass of Aglon which formed a road between Dorthonion and Himring.
Maglor’s Gap – Maglor defended an area to the east of Himring were the hills gave way and was thus open to attack.
Thargelion (Talath Rhunen) – Caranthir defended the land south of Maglor’s Gap with a great force of cavalry.
Southern East Beleriand – Because most of the people of Feanor’s folk were defending the northern borders of East Beleriand, few elves lived in this fair but wild woodland. The Princes Amrod and Amras ruled here.
Ossiriand – Denethor’s Nandor elves lived in this region to the east of the River Gelion, but after the death of Denethor they took no lord.
Other places of note.
Ard-galen – Great plain to the south of Angband.
Thargorodrim – Great mountain built by Melkor to guard the entrance to Angband.
Linaewen – Great mere in Nevrast.
Dimbar – An uninhabited area of Northern Beleriand between the Rivers Sirion and Mindeb, and the Crissaegrim mountains.
Nan Dungortheb – Narrow region between the sheer slopes of Ered Gorgoroth and the Girdle of Melian. The abode of Ungoliant and her foul offspring, it became a place of terror and madness.
River Sirion – The great river which divided West and East Beleriand.
River Gelion – The great river which divided East Beleriand from Ossiriand.
Lothlann – Open plain to the east of the Ard-galen, guarded by the sons of Feanor.
Nan Elmoth – Ancient forest to the south of Himlad. Home of Eol the Dark Elf.
Questions for discussion.
1) The Elves of Beleriand built their realms and set a tight siege against Angband. How united were they in this defence?
2) How was Ulmo different to the other Valar during this period?
3) Even those Noldor who had no dealings with the Kin-slaying were reluctant to speak of events in Valinor with Thingol. Why was this?
4) Eol the Dark Elf. The name conjures something unique, like a different race of elf, but Eol was Teleri. Why does he appear so different to others of his race?
Are Utumno and Angband the same?
When Melkor returned to Middle Earth he returned to Angband, where a few of his Balrogs and other monsters still remained, and he raised the mountain of Thongorodrim above it. He never returned to Utumno. Both were utterly destroyed with the sinking of Beleriand at the end of the First Age.
Are Utumno and Angband the same?
While Angband was located in the portion of the then existing Iron Mountains centered far north above Doriath, Dorthonion, and Ard-galen shown on most maps of Beleriand in the Silmarillion. Angband was submerged along with Beleriand when Melkor (now named Morgoth) was defeated the last and hopefully final time at the end of the First Age.
Number one, Eol was Teleri, but he was of the Teleri that never made the journey to Aman. The kin he was descended from never saw the light of the two trees, therefore making Eol one of the Moriquendi, and thus explaining one of the reasons for a slight difference in appearance from other Elves. More importantly however, is the fact that Eol dwelt in Nan Elmoth were the sun never came. He lived in deep shadow, in the twilight world, and he loved the night. All of which I think were contributing factors in his difference in appearance over time.
Also (briefly), Ulmo was different from the other Valar during this period because he was directly staying involved with the events of the Elves (specifically those of Noldorian descent) in Middle Earth. Where as the other Valar during this period had basically shut out the Noldor (part of the doom of Mandos), Ulmo was still directly offering help, wisdom, guidance, and protection to the Noldor (appearing to Turgon, the building of Gondolin, etc…).
Of all the elves Eol seems to be the first 'bad' elf who was not corrupted by the lies of Melkor (as others before him) but more so by the darkness in his own heart. He was very much a loner and never really saw the sun; he even seemed to prefer the company of dwarves over elves.
3) Those Noldor not directly involved with the kin-slaying were still ashamed by it and heart-broken over being banished from Valinor, they would rather not think of it let alone speak of it to someone who may hold them in contempt or even partly responsible for the actions of the other Noldor. Especially since Thingol was Teleri as were the Elves who were slain.
[Edited on 5/1/2003 by Arwen*Evenstar*]
Staying on the subject of Eol, I think he differed in appearance from other Elves of his race for several different reasons.
Feeling uncomfortable with Doriath after the Girdle of Melian was raised, he left Doriath to dwell in Nan Elmoth. Thingol gave him permission to do this in exchange for the sword Anglachel. Okay, he may have dwelt in shadows because he disliked the Sun, but the sun had only been in the sky for 304 years when he met Aredhel. Compared to the ages the elves had dwelt under the stars, this was only a short time.
In my opinion Arwen is correct about this, in that Eol's darkness was in his soul. I like the point you have made about him being the first elf to turn bad without being influenced by Melkor. I had not thought about it from that point of view before, but I cannot think of any other elf to have done so. That he had such a dark heart showed in his work too. Anglachel was a formidable weapon but it caused much grief to those who wielded it in the years to come.
How was Ulmo different to the other Valar during this period?
Yes, as you both pointed out, Ulmo was the only Valar to directly assist the Elves in Middle Earth during this period. While the other Valar barracaded themselves in Valinor, Ulmo often visited Middle Earth, often to the point of seldom going to the Councils of the Valar. He did try to communicate with Men also, but they lacked the skills necessary to understand his signs.
It should also be noted that because of this, Morgoth never assualted the Elves from the sea and his creatures greatly feared water. Even during Sauron's time, it was only the Numenorian's, or their descendants the Corsairs of Umbar, who dared to make war while on his domain.
Even those Noldor who had no dealings with the Kin-slaying were reluctant to speak of events in Valinor with Thingol. Why was this?
Your answer is pretty much correct, Arwen. Even though the people of Fingolfin and Finarfin had nothing to do with the kin-slaying directly, they were still Noldorian. To many, particularly Thingol, whose brother's people were the innocent victims of the Kin-slaying, the act would be seen as a Noldorian attack on the Teleri. The fact that Thingol was able to differentiate between the houses of the Noldor, and eventually forgive those not guilty of the act showed his own great wisdom.
Galadriel originally said to Melian that she did not wish to dwell on what had happened in Valinor lest it ruin what joy she had left. Galadriel knew the consequences of what would happen should the tale get out, and was being very evasive here.
Even though they had no part in the Kin-slaying, all of the Noldor were subject to the Doom of Mandos. They all felt guilty at disobeying the Valar and were ashamed to have done so. Only the house of Feanor was driven by the Oath that they had sworn, but that Oath affected all of the Noldor whether they liked it or not while they had any dealings with the Sons of Feanor.
Would anyone like to briefly summarise the elven strengths and weaknesses at this time?
Does anyone have any other questions they would like answering about these three chapters?
I like what you said about Eol Arwen. And Tommy, I'm glad you're enjoying the read.
In reality, however, this was not really the case. The sons of Feanor had little love for the houses of Fingolfin and Finarfin, and only showed cooperation because of the leadership of Maedhros. In addition, Thingol had little love for any of the Noldor unless they were of Finarfin's house.
Because of their differences there was a great danger of Melkor using his skills to create great rifts between the elves. He does not seemed to have exploited this weakness, however, either due to not recognising it, or the elves distrusting him far more than they did each other.