Thread: Elementals
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Old 01-21-2017, 09:19 PM   #3
Tyr
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earthlings

I'd like to comment on a small error in Ms. Seth's citation of The Creatures of the Earth. While I approve of her decision to note its possible relevance, her statement that Tolkien "labeled 'earthlings' as: 'Beasts, Creatures and Monsters'" does not accurately reflect the contents of that text. A quick glance at Parma Eldalamberon 14 (pages 5-8 are Wynne and Gilson's analysis, with p. 9-10 the actual documents) shows that Tolkien split his hierarchy into eight categories: (A) Elves or Fairies, (B) Ūvanimor / monsters, (C) Earthlings, (D) Fays, (E) Children of the Gods / Valar and their folk, (F) Children of Men, (G) Beasts and Creatures. C does not equal B + G*; I'll summarize the rest of the text for those without (since it's currently out-of-print).

B (Melko's folk) is further subdivided into Qenya words for demons, goblins, balrogs, ogres of the north and south (smaller cannibal giants), and trolls; demons and balrogs are said to be "probably an evil form of D." C consists of wood-giants, mountainous-giants, dwarves, and pygmies. D has fays of the meads, the woods, the valleys, the mountains, and the rivers, though the last unfortunately has no Qenya name provided. E contains the Mānir and Suruli (etc.), with Tolkien saying there is "very little distinction between these and D." Tolkien then presents the hierarchy as E, D, A, F, C, G, [B] so that the Children of Men "thus occupy the middle place in the seven orders."

A separate "Valar" chart is presented afterwards which expands upon D and E subdivided between the elements of Air, Earth, Water, and Fire. Six types are listed for Water: wingildi, oarni (oaritsi), nenuvar, a´lior, ektelarni, and capalindi. In their commentary on p. 7, Wynne and Gilson link the last four to lily-pools, lakes/ponds, fountains, and springs (respectively). Wingildi and Oarni show up in BoLT's The Coming of the Valar alongside the FalmarÝni (missing in this "Valar" chart but attested elsewhere), said to be "the spirits of the foam and the surf of ocean." More can be said on the Wingildi and FalmarÝni, but neither seem applicable to Goldberry.

If anything in The Creatures of the Earth seems relevant, rather than earthlings I think one might wonder about the unnamed river-fays in D, or the a´lior (presumably fays of lily-pools). I'm not comfortable stating that I think Tolkien classified Goldberry as a river-fay according to his Creatures of the Earth chart, but I do wonder whether he had his earlier Paracelsian nymph ideas in mind as inspiration, even if not the only bones in the soup.

Regarding the note Ms. Seth cites about Tolkien abandoning the concept in Scheme D that mermaids = Oarni in order to have them be "earthlings, or fays? Ś or both", my first idea is to wonder whether this might be interpreted as shifting from friendly sea-spirits who love/rescue Earendel to being associated with rocks/shoals/sandbars that their associated fays might lure sailors into. "Enchantment of his sailors" in that same note certainly brings sirens and their dangers to my mind.
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*However, in their commentary on p. 8, Wynne and Gilson compare Creatures of the Earth listing nautar 'dwarves' under Earthlings to "a rejected outline for the Tale of Nauglafring" which classifies Nautar/Nauglath as ┌vanimor. They point out that "The designation of Nautar as ┌vanimor 'monsters' can be compared to the notion of Paracelsus that dwarves are monstra born of the pygmies or gnomes." Compare also how ┌vanimor are said to be "monsters, giants, and ogres ... bred from the earth" in I:268 (Gilfanon's Tale), and how Orcs are said to be "bred by Melko of the subterranean heats and slime. Their hearts were of granite" in II:159 (The Fall of Gondolin).
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