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Old 06-06-2018, 08:18 PM   #5
Curmudgeonly Wordwraith
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Join Date: Jun 2007
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Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
As an atheist, I would caution a 1+1=2 view of Tolkien's creation equaling the biblical or Christian concept of the Beginning. Unlike the Christian allegorist and apologist C.S. Lewis, whose literary output leaves me cold (save for The Screwtape Letters, which are hilarious) Tolkien drew on more than just biblical concepts when he created his cosmology, and it was that synthesis of various cultures' mythos that gives his fantasy far more depth and interest. Thus, he could captivate a non-Christian like myself as well as any pedestrian Presbyterian.

First, the idea of music being an integral part of creation is not a Christian concept, but rather familiar to Celtic/Bardic legends (such as in Taliesin), as well as Norse myth (Braggi, the Golden Harp and the Song of Life), and Finnish myth (wherein Väinämöinen fashioned a harp out of salmon bones that was used eventually by sea gods to create the music of the ocean on the beach). There are also such concepts in Hindu (the Rigvedic Hymns) and Aztec myth (Quetzalcoatl and the Music of the Sun).

Second, the Valar's more than coincidental likeness to the Greek Pantheon of gods or of the Norse Æsir, and the hierarchy and marriages found therein. Each individual Vala is endowed with certain powers matching any number of gods/goddesses of the hunt, the sea, crafting, the wood...and wrestling! Mandos is equivalent to the Greek Fates or the Norse Norns with the added dimension of having the responsibilities of Hades.

Third, Melkor is not merely an equivalent of the fallen Angel Lucifer, tempting men's souls, he is rather the corrupter of Arda itself (see "Morgoth's Ring"). Such corruptive deities who scar the very earth, control the seasons and are enemies of light can be found in Slavic, Persian, Finnish and Celtic myth.

Fourth, the other disparate legends and myths that are interwoven throughout Tolkien's early cosmology, everything from the Finnish Kalavela copied to create the tale of Turin Turambar to the Atlantis myth reworked into the Akallabêth (Atalantë in Quenya). The legend of Tilion the moon and Arien the sun used to describe the wayward lunar orbit is very much crafted in the style of Greek and Norse myths, as is Ossë a personification of the capricious, violent and unfathomable sea. Even Angainor (the chain of Melkor) could be compared to the binding of Fenrir with the enchanted Gleipnir. Another that springs to mind is when Luthien sang to release the spirit of Beren and herself from the Halls of Mandos, which has a direct correlation to Orpheus melting the cold heart of Hades to release his love Eurydice from the Underworld.

So, yes, Christian symbology, but there's a whole lotta heathen going on!
Please visit my newly resurrected blog...The Dark Elf File...a slightly skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.
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