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Of Galadriel and Celeborn

(based on the myth of Atalanta)

Galadriel was the greatest of the Noldor, except F’anor maybe, though she was wiser than he, and her wisdom increased with the long years. Even among the Eldar she was accounted beautiful, and her hair was held a marvel unmatched. It was golden like the hair of her father and of her foremother Indis, but richer and more radiant, for its gold was touched by some memory of the starlike silver of her mother; and the Eldar said that the light of the Two Trees, Laurelin and Telperion, had been snared in her tresses.

Her mother-name was Nerwen, whilst her father-name was Artanis, and she grew to be tall beyond the measure even of the women of the Noldor; she was strong of body, mind, and will, a match for both the loremasters and the athletes of the Eldar in the days of their youth.

Galadriel was her Sindarin name and means 'Maiden crowned with gleaming hair'. It was a secondary name given to her in her youth in the far past because she had long hair which glistened like gold but was also shot with silver. She was then of Amazon disposition and sometimes bound up her hair as a crown when taking part in athletic feats.

Indeed, so proud was she of her swiftness that she made a vow to the Valar that none would be her husband except the youth who won past her in a race. Youth after youth came and raced against her, but Galadriel, who grew fleeter and fleeter of foot, left each one of them far behind her. The youths who came to the race were so many and the clamour they made after defeat was so great, that her father Finarfin made a law that, as he thought, would lessen their number. The law that he made was that the youth who came to race against his daughter and who lost the race should lose his life into the bargain. After that the youths who had care for their lives stayed away from her home in Tirion.

Once there came a youth from Alqualond’, a part of the Undying Lands that Galadriel’s grandfather Olw’ ruled over. Celeborn was his name. He did not know of the race, but having come into Tirion and seeing the crowd of people, he went with them to the course. He looked upon the youths who were girded for the race, and he heard the folk say amongst themselves, ’Poor youths, as mighty and as high-spirited as they look, by sunset the life will be out of each of them, for Galadriel will run past them as she ran past the others.’ Then Celeborn spoke to the folk in wonder, and they told him of Galadriel’s race and of what would befall the youths who were defeated in it. ’Unlucky youths,’ cried Celeborn, ’how foolish they are to try to win a bride at the price of their lives.’
Then, with pity in his heart, he watched the youths prepare for the race. Galadriel had not yet taken her place, and he was fearful of looking upon her. ’She is a witch,’ he said to himself, ’she must be a witch to draw so many youths to their deaths, and she, no doubt, will show in her face and figure the witch’s spirit.’

But even as he said this, Celeborn saw Galadriel. She stood with the youths before they crouched for the first dart in the race. He saw that she was a maiden of a light and a lovely form. Then they crouched for the race; then the trumpets rang out, and the youths and the maiden darted like swallows over the sand of the course.
On came Galadriel, far, far ahead of the youths who had started with her. Over her bare shoulders her hair streamed, blown backward by the wind that met her flight. Her fair neck shone, and her little feet were like flying doves. It seemed to Celeborn as he watched her that there was fire in her lovely body. On and on she went as swift as the arrow that Nessa the Huntress shoots from her bow. And as he watched the race he was not sorry that the youths were being left behind. Rather would he have been enraged if one came near overtaking her, for now his heart was set upon winning her for his bride, and he cursed himself for not having entered the race.

She passed the last goal mark and she was given the victor’s wreath of flowers. Celeborn stood and watched her and he did not see the youths who had started with her’they had thrown themselves on the ground in their despair.
Then wild, as though he were one doomed by Mandos, Celeborn made his way through the throng and came before the golden-heared Finarfin, father of Galadriel. Finarfin’s brows were knit, for even then he was pronouncing doom upon the youths who had been left behind in the race. He looked upon Celeborn, another youth who would make the trial, and the frown became heavier upon his face.
But Celeborn saw only Galadriel. She came beside her father; the wreath was upon her head of gold, and her eyes were wide and tender. She turned her face to him, and then she knew by the wildness that was in his look that he had come to enter the race with her. Then the flush that was on her face died away, and she shook her head as if she were imploring him to go from that place.

Her father bent his brows upon him and said, ’Speak, O youth, speak and tell us what brings you here.’
Then cried Celeborn as if his whole life were bursting out with his words: ’Why does this fair maiden, your daughter, seek an easy renown by conquering weakly youths in the race? She has not striven yet. Here stand I, one of the Teleri, akin to E’rwen, the Swan-maiden of Alqualond’. Should I be defeated by her in the race, then, indeed, might Galadriel have something to boast of.’
Galadriel stepped forward and said: ’Do not speak of it, youth. Indeed I think that it is some Ainu, envious of your beauty and your strength, who sent you here to strive with me and to meet your doom. Ah, think of the youths who have striven with me even now! Think of the hard doom that is about to fall upon them! You venture your life in the race, but indeed I am not worthy of the price. Go hence, O stranger youth, go hence and live happily, for indeed I think that there is some maiden who loves you well.’

’Nay, maiden,’ said Celeborn, ’I will enter the race and I will venture my life on the chance of winning you for my bride. What good will my life and my spirit be to me if they cannot win this race for me?’
She drew away from him then and looked upon him no more, but bent down to fasten the sandals upon her feet. And Finarfin looked upon Celeborn and said, ’Face, then, this race tomorrow. You will be the only one who will enter it. But bethink thee of the doom that awaits thee at the end of it.’ Then he said no more, and Celeborn went from him and from Galadriel, and he came again to the place where the race had been run.
He looked across the sandy course with its goal marks, and in his mind he saw again Galadriel’s swift race. He would not meet doom at the hands of Finarfin’s soldiers, he knew, for his spirit would leave him with the greatness of the effort he would make to reach the goal before her. And he thought it would be well to die in that effort and on that sandy place, rather than live a life without Galadriel.
Even as he looked across the sandy course now deserted by the throng, he saw one move across it, coming toward him with feet that did not seem to touch the ground. She was a woman of wonderful presence. As Celeborn looked upon her he knew that she was Nessa, sister of Orom’, huntress of the Valar.

’Celeborn,’ said the Vali’, ’my brethren are mindful of you who dares to court Galadriel so bravely, and I am mindful of you because of your own worth. I have come to help you in your race with Galadriel, for I would not have you slain, nor would I have that maiden go unwed. Give your greatest strength and your greatest swiftness to the race, and behold! here are wonders that will prevent the fleet-footed Galadriel from putting all her spirit into the race.’
And then she held out to Celeborn a branch that had upon it three apples of shining gold.
’On the Fields of Yavanna,’ said the Vali’, ’where I have come from before meeting you here, there is a tree on which these golden apples grow. Only I may pluck them. I have brought them to you, Celeborn. Keep them in your girdle, and in the race you will find out what to do with them, I think.’

So Nessa said, and then she vanished, leaving a fragrance in the air and the three shining apples in the hands of Celeborn. Long he looked upon their brightness. They were beside him that night, and when he arose in the dawn he put them in his girdle. Then, before the throng, he went to the place of the race.
When he showed himself beside Galadriel all around the course were silent, for they all admired Celeborn for his beauty and for the spirit that was in his face; they were silent out of compassion, for they knew the doom that befell the youths who raced with Galadriel.
And now Finarfin, the relentless father, stood up, and he spoke to the throng, saying, ’Hear me all, both young and old: this youth, Celeborn, seeks to win the race from my daughter, winning her for his bride. Now, if he be victorious and escape death I will give him my dear child, Galadriel, and many diamonds besides as gifts from me, and in honour he shall go back to his native city. But if he fails in the race, then he will have to share the doom that has been meted out to the other youths who raced with Galadriel hoping to win her for a bride.’

Then Celeborn and Galadriel crouched for the start. The trumpets were sounded and they darted off.
Side by side with Galadriel Celeborn went. Her flying hair touched his breast, and it seemed to him that they were skimming the sandy course as if they were swallows. But then Galadriel began to draw away from him. He saw her ahead of him, and then he began to hear the words of cheer that came from the throng’’Bend to the race, Celeborn! Go on, go on! Use your strength to the utmost.’ He bent himself to the race, but further and further from him Galadriel drew.
Then it seemed to him that she checked her swiftness a little to look back at him. He gained on her a little. And then his hand touched the apples that were in his girdle. As it touched them it came into his mind what to do with the apples.
He was not far from her now, but already her swiftness was drawing her further and further away. He took one of the apples into his hand and tossed it into the air so that it fell on the track before her.
Galadriel saw the shining apple. She checked her speed and stooped in the race to pick it up. And as she stooped Celeborn darted past her, and went flying toward the goal that now was within his sight.

But soon she was beside him again. He looked, and he saw that the goal marks were far, far ahead of him. Galadriel with the flying hair passed him, and drew away and away from him. He had not speed to gain upon her now, he thought, so he put his strength into his hand and he flung the second of the shining apples. The apple rolled before her and rolled off the course. Galadriel turned off the course, stooped and picked up the apple.
Then did Celeborn draw all his spirit into his breast as he raced on. He was now nearer to the goal than she was. But he knew that she was behind him, going lightly where he went heavily. And then she was beside him, and then she went past him. She paused in her speed for a moment and she looked back on him.
As he raced on, his chest seemed weighted down and his throat was crackling dry. The goal marks were far away still, but Galadriel was nearing them. He took the last of the golden apples into his hand. Perhaps she was now so far that the strength of his throw would not be great enough to bring the apple before her.
But with all the strength he could put into his hand he flung the apple. It struck the course before her feet and then went bounding wide. Galadriel swerved in her race and followed where the apple went. Celeborn marveled that he had been able to fling it so far. He saw Galadriel stoop to pick up the apple, and he bounded on. And then, although his strength was failing, he saw the goal marks near him. He set his feet between them and then fell down on the ground.

The attendants raised him up and put the victor’s wreath upon his head. The concourse of people shouted with joy to see him victor. But he looked around for Galadriel and he saw her standing there with the golden apples in her hands. ’He has won,’ he heard her say, ’and I have not to hate myself for bringing a doom upon him. Gladly, gladly do I give up the race, and glad am I that it is this youth who has won the victory from me.’

She took his hand and brought him before her father. Then Finarfin, in the sight of all the rejoicing people, gave Galadriel to Celeborn for his bride, and he bestowed upon him also a great gift of diamonds. With his dear and hard-won bride, Celeborn went to his own city, and the apples that she brought with her, the golden apples of Yavanna, were reverenced by the people.
The unfortunate history of Amras the Hunter

(based on the myth of Artemis & Aktaion)

It was midday in the Undying Lands, that gentle hour of softer light when both Laurelin and Telperion were faint and their gold and silver beams were mingled., when young Amras, seventh son of F’anor, thus addressed the youths who with him were hunting boars in the forest of Orom’ :"Friends, our nets and our weapons are wet with the blood of our victims; we have had sport enough for one day, and tomorrow we can renew our labours. Now, let us put by our instruments and indulge ourselves with rest, and thank Lord Orom’ for a fine day of hunting in his forest."

Unknown to Amras, in Orom’s forest there was a valley thickly enclosed with cypresses and pines, where Nessa, the sister of Orom’, often came to repose. In the extremity of the valley was a cave, not adorned with art, but nature had counterfeited art in its construction, for the Valier had turned the arch of its roof with stones as delicately fitted as if by the hand of Aul’ the Maker. A fountain burst out from one side, whose open basin was bounded by a grassy rim. Here the Lady of the Woods used to come when weary with hunting and lave her limbs in the sparkling water.

One day, having repaired thither with her maids, she handed her javelin, her quiver, and her bow to one, her robe to another, while a third unbound the sandals from her feet.

While the Vali’ was thus employed in the labours of the toilet, behold, Amras, having quitted his companions, and rambling without any particular object, came to the place, led thither by his destiny. As he presented himself at the entrance of the cave, the maids, seeing a man, screamed and rushed towards Nessa to hide her with their bodies. But she was taller than the rest, and overtopped them all by a head. Such a colour as tinges the clouds at sunset or at dawn came over the countenance of Nessa thus taken by surprise. Surrounded as she was by her maids, she yet turned half away, and sought with a sudden impulse for her arrows. As they were not at hand, she dashed the water into the face of the intruder, adding these words: "Now go and tell, if you can, that you have seen Nessa unapparelled."

Immediately a pair of branching stag's horns grew out of Amras’s head, his neck gained in length, his ears grew sharp-pointed, his hands became feet, his arms long legs, his body was covered with a hairy spotted hide.
Fear took the place of his former boldness, and the Elf fled. He could not but admire his own speed; but when he saw his horns in the water, ’ Ah, wretched me! ’, he would have said, but no sound followed the effort. He groaned, and tears flowed down the face that had taken the place of his own. Yet his consciousness remained. What shall he do? Go home to seek the palace, or lie hid in the woods? The latter he was afraid, the former he was ashamed, to do. While he hesitated his hunting-dogs saw him.

Virumor, one of Orom’s own hunting-dogs, gave the signal with his bark, after which all the rest rushed after him swifter than the wind. Over rocks and cliffs, through mountain gorges that seemed impracticable, he fled, and they followed. Where he had often chased the stag and cheered on his pack, his pack now chased him, cheered on by his own huntsmen. He longed to cry out, "I am Amras; recognize your master!" But the words came not at his will. The air resounded with the bark of the dogs. Presently one fastened on his back, another seized his shoulder.

While they held their master, the rest of the pack came up and buried their teeth in his flesh. He groaned, not in an Elven voice, yet certainly not in a stag's, and, falling on his knees, raised his eyes, and would have raised his arms in supplication, if he had had them. His friends and fellow huntsmen cheered on the dogs, and looked
everywhere for Amras, calling on him to join the sport. At the sound of his name, he turned his head, and heard them regret that he should be away. He earnestly wished he was. He would have been well pleased to see the exploits of his dogs, but to feel them was too much. They were all around him, rending and tearing; and it was not till they had torn his life out that the anger of Nessa was satisfied.

Thus ends the true story of what befell Amras ; for it was only the shame of F’anor who forced the Elven historians in his service to recount that his youngest son was accidentally killed during the burning of the swan-ships at Losgar.
Good to see that you posted these applications, Mir. I'm not familiar with the myth of Atalanta. Why would somebody stoop to pick up apples in a race, unless he or she really wanted to lose? Is that the reason she picks up the apples? Or is there another reason in the myth itself?
The golden apples were the gift of a goddess (Aphrodite in the original myth), hence have magical qualities, and one who sees them has no other choice but to pick them up.

It was the only way to defeat Atalanta/Galadriel, as she was too proud to lose the race intentionally.