Thread: Silmarils Question
Yes the question of whether or not the Arkenstone is a Silmaril (returned) has been asked and debated before.
My opinion is: no, it is not actually a Silmaril, even though there might arguably be some measure of 'literary borrowing' here.
The Elven-king of The Hobbit has been argued to be a literary borrowing of an early version of Thingol Greycloak for example, but even if this is true or well argued, that doesn't mean that Thranduil is actually Thingol returned of course, with respect to the internal world of Middle-earth.
What I can say is that, to date there is no direct statement from Tolkien that the Arkenstone was a Silmaril, and no draft text for The Hobbit in which the Arkenstone was ever considered to be a Silmaril -- meaning that there is no specific note or earlier passage that refers to this, even as a possibility to be explored.
The case revolves around certain connections some readers make however (even the author of The History of The Hobbit presents the case as he sees it). For instance many point to the Arkenstone having its own inner light...
... I'm not sure that necessarily needs to mean we have a Silmaril here, but in any event, relatively new evidence published in The History of The Hobbit reveals that the 'Gem of Girion' was a literary precursor to the Arkenstone, and in this earlier conception Girion had given the gem in payment for the arming of his sons:
'It was a great white gem, that shone of its own inner light within, and yet cut and fashioned by the Dwarves to whom Girion had given it, it caught and splintered all light that it received...'
While The Dragon's Away, JD Rateliff, The History of The Hobbit part II
How Girion got such a jewel isn't even explained. The response to that is the argument that maybe Tolkien changed the Gem of Girion into a Silmaril however.
But this only touches upon the arguments for the Arkenstone being a Silmaril...
... or not
right yes thats a great reply thankyou very much. i also agree that there has not even been a hint that this stone is a silmaril which usually occurs in notes or other works.
I also find it a better story, subjective as that is, that the lost Silmarils remain where they were lost...
The three Silmarils found their 'long homes' in earth, sea and sky, and the joy of the victory of the War of Wrath was diminished (Silmarillion) '... for they returned without the Silmarils from Morgoth's crown, and they knew that those jewels could not be found or brought together again unless the world be broken and remade.'
In The History of The Hobbit John Rateliff notes the sense of finality (that the Silmarils were lost) in the 1926 Sketch of the Mythology and various versions of the 1930 Quenta Noldorinwa. But also writes: 'Despite the sense of finality in the passages just quoted, Tolkien had in fact changed his mind four times in the previous fifteen years about the holy jewel's fate...' J. Rateliff
I think that's a rather notable 'despite' however, because the Sketch and the 1930 Qenta are still relatively close in date to the writing of The Hobbit.
JDR continues: 'Just as the sword of Turgon King of Gondolin had somehow survived... it is thus more than possible that Tolkien was playing in The Hobbit with the idea of having one of Feanor's wondrous jewels reappear,...' J. Rateliff
But 'more than possible' isn't saying all that much... in my opinion
Indeed this is a debate that's been going on for a very long time. Personally, I don't think there's a right answer. As has been pointed out, there is almost 0 mention of this connection anywhere in all the thousands of pages of Middle Earth lore.
However, I think that's intentional. Tolkien loves the subjective plot lines, like Tom Bombadil's origins, Beorn's history, and of course The Arkenstone/Silmaril debate. There's also tons of little things that indicate it very well could be the Earth Silmaril, and the dwarves just gave it a new name. Technically, almost an entire civilization was wiped out because of its discovery, which was found by breaking apart the mountain. It was then placed on Thorin's tomb and lowered back into the earth. So it literally and metaphorically COULD fulfill the "prophecy."
That's the beauty of it. It's really up to you if it is or not. I've heard good arguments either way. There's no hard fact, but there are plenty of hints. So you decide....
As noted, John Rateliff (History of The Hobbit) takes up the case, but his basic argument involves two major points:
A) that in Old English versions of Silmarillion related texts, Tolkien used Old English eorclanstanas to refer to the Silmarils, a word which is related to arkenstone.
But of course the word is applicable in any case, since it means 'precious or holy jewel', and eorclanstanas is found in Beowulf to describe a jeweled necklace given to Beowulf by Hrothgar's consort. And a variant form of this word appears in Cynewulf's Christ, which work Tolkien well knew, and in which he found earendel for instance.
B) that the Arkenstone seems to shine of its own inner light, and obviously is a great jewel, found, in some form, in the earth.
Even Rateliff notes that is is difficult to try to compare the descriptions of the jewels in any detail, but to my mind it's not so much the description of the Arkenstone after it was fashioned, but the description that it was fashioned at all!
The story reveals that the Arkenstone was cut and fashioned by the Dwarves...
... and some Silmaril proponents then claim that cut and fashioned 'could' really mean the Dwarves just released an already fashioned jewel from the earth, as at least one proponent has argued: chiseling away some sort of crusted substance around the jewel...
... but this is strained in my opinion, and I don't buy it, myself.
I'm thinking no, they're not the same. The silmarils were fashioned by Feanor, presumably perfected by the time they were stolen from him. The arkenstone was found, uncut (or so the text seems to indicate), and was cut by the dwarves.
I find no problem believing that the "synthetic" (elf-made) jewel resembles a "natural" (earth made - or, in this case you might say Aule-made or Eru-made?) jewel. Don't our own, human-made-in-a-lab precious stones bear resemblance to those we mine?
The shining with their own inner light thing is interesting, though. So far as I remember, Feanor's silmarils were imbued with the light of the two trees by Yavanna? So whence came the arkenstone's inner light? That is a mystery but certainly the arkenstone need not BE a silmaril in order to have undergone a similar process, somewhen and somewhere...
I'm sure it wasn't a Silmaril. Had it been a Silmaril there would've been some angry angry elves doing anything to get it away from dwarven hands
Most of the remaining elves probably believed the silmarils were undoubtedly lost forever, at least until Morgoth's return and the end of days, so they just assumed it wasn't. But, what if it was...elves CAN be a bit arrogant...
I would say that you're quite correct, Elanorraine, about the passage in The Hobbit which explains that it was the Dwarves who cut the Arkenstone to give it its marvelous light reflecting properties.
To my mind the Arkenstone cannot be an actual Silmaril then, even if there is a measure of 'borrowing' in a literary sense; and I note that even John Rateliff, who devotes several pages to this matter, and in my opinion tries to push any 'connections' as far as he can...
... yet does not attempt to address this problem.