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Old 07-16-2019, 02:24 AM   #1
Huinesoron
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Jail-Crow of Mandos

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Silmarillion
And Fëanor looked upon Melkor with eyes that burned through his fair semblance and pierced the cloaks of his mind, perceiving there his fierce lust for the Silmarils. Then hate overcame Fëanor's fear, and he cursed Melkor and bade him be gone, saying: 'Get thee gone from my gate, thou jail-crow of Mandos!' And he shut the doors of his house in the face of the mightiest of all the dwellers in Eä.
Wait... what?

Fëanor's words are echoing the relatively common English term 'jailbird', as in someone who has previously been a prisoner. But... why does Fëanor have a colloquial term for a prisoner ready to hand, in a land where we're told of Finwë after his wife's death, 'alone in all the Blessed Realm he was deprived of joy'? Did Valinor have a secret unmentioned criminal justice system?

The Gnomish Lexicon suggests yes. From Eldamo, it includes a whole set of words based on 'fedh-':

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnomish Lexicon
difedhin adj. and n. “*outlaw” see nifedhin

fedhin n. and adj. “bound by agreement; ally, friend”
fedhir n. “law; properly bond, convention, agreement”
fedhirweg n. “lawman, lawyer”
fedhra- v. “to unite in a band”
fedhril n. “one bound by oath [f.]”
fedhrog n. “one bound by oath”
fedhwed adj. “lawful”
fedhwen n. “treaty”

gofedhin adj. “united, allied, ‘friends’”
gofedhra- v. “to unite in a band”
gofedhrog n. “ally”

nifedhin adj. and n. “outlaw, outcast”

ufedhron n. “lawless man”
ufedhwed adj. “lawless”
The lexicon even provides a Primitive Elvish root on which these are all based, FEDE, meaning law or bond.

It's possible that Tolkien envisaged this legal system as being a Beleriandic concept (where we know from Turin that outlaws were a thing, and from Finrod that allies were something House Feanor didn't really get), but the Qenya Lexicon also has a relevant word: kos (kost-) n. “quarrel, dispute, the matter disputed, legal action”. Kos stems from a different Primitive Elvish root, GOÞO ('GOTHO'), which is connected to anger and fighting. So if anything, the Qenya word is more antagonistic than the Gnomish, which could have originally been about property disputes or something.

Am I completely off-track in imagining a Valinorean legal system (perhaps it only came into play after Melkor was out and making trouble?)? Is there any more evidence either way as to what it looked like?

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Old 07-16-2019, 06:58 AM   #2
William Cloud Hicklin
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Hadn't copped to that one particularly, but there were other areas where T didn't really think through the ramifications of Valinor. Such as, Feanor and Fingolfin nearly coming to blows over being their father's heir. How's that again? An immortal people living in a place where nothing ever dies: how would inheritance be a thing?
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Old 07-16-2019, 08:38 AM   #3
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Hadn't copped to that one particularly, but there were other areas where T didn't really think through the ramifications of Valinor. Such as, Feanor and Fingolfin nearly coming to blows over being their father's heir. How's that again? An immortal people living in a place where nothing ever dies: how would inheritance be a thing?
Perhaps it's something like how things occasionally went in the Kingdom of England? Henry the Young King, elder brother of Richard the Lionheart, was created co-King of England with his father. Come to think of it, John acted as king in Richard's stead while the latter was away being a religious fanatic. If the King's Heir was a position of power in its own right - perhaps he runs the city while Finwe is away in Valimar? - it would be understandable to want to keep that power.

(Or, of course, Feanor could just have been angry about not getting all his dad's time and attention.)

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Old 07-16-2019, 03:22 PM   #4
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"Young King" - the practice was much more general than just the Angevins - was a way of ensuring the succession. As the West Franks moved away from their Germanic traditions, particularly that of partitioned inheritance, getting the chosen heir crowned and anointed ahead of time - and receiving oaths of fealty - was a way to avoid what happened inter alia with Maud and Stephen, and before that with the Conqueror's sons (Robert Curthose did not give in happily). So it was a direct outgrowth of inheritance. There also was an echo of the Roman Tetrarchy, in that the Angevin empire was just too big (with salt water in the middle) for one King to respond to every crisis in anything like a timely manner. But what crises did the House of Finwe ever have to respond to in Aman?

(Also, Henry fils made a rotten Young King, considering he spent most of his reign rebelling against Dad. No English King ever did it again, the title Prince of Wales eventually serving)

--

NB: Richard CdL was less a religious fanatic than he was a war fanatic. And there was nothing at all unusual about appointing a regent during the king's prolonged absence.
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Old 07-17-2019, 11:11 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
How's that again? An immortal people living in a place where nothing ever dies: how would inheritance be a thing?
One could fall off Taniquetil.

Or a horse.

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Old 07-17-2019, 12:16 PM   #6
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One could fall off Taniquetil.

Or a horse.

Well, the Elvish equivalent of Death was known in Valinor. Feanor's own mother had relinquished her spirit at his birth, never returning. Can you then really blame them for wondering if something else might take their father?
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Old 07-17-2019, 03:59 PM   #7
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Well, the Elvish equivalent of Death was known in Valinor. Feanor's own mother had relinquished her spirit at his birth, never returning. Can you then really blame them for wondering if something else might take their father?
Good point!

And if one falls on a good, well placed point . . .

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Old 07-18-2019, 04:07 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
Well, the Elvish equivalent of Death was known in Valinor. Feanor's own mother had relinquished her spirit at his birth, never returning. Can you then really blame them for wondering if something else might take their father?
Which ironically would be less of a concern for Fingolfin, who would probably assume that Finwe would be immediately reborn to be with Indis. Feanor, however, would believe with his usual burning intensity that Finwe would stay dead with The Perfect Miriel, and that he - or, if his wicked stepbrother had his way, the misbegotten son of Indis - would then be king.

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Old 07-18-2019, 09:45 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
Well, the Elvish equivalent of Death was known in Valinor. Feanor's own mother had relinquished her spirit at his birth, never returning. Can you then really blame them for wondering if something else might take their father?

A unique event which sparked a metaphysical crisis and a full-on Ring of Doom debate. There was never any likelihood that Finwe would commit suicide!
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Old 07-18-2019, 10:18 AM   #10
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A unique event which sparked a metaphysical crisis and a full-on Ring of Doom debate. There was never any likelihood that Finwe would commit suicide!
Not implying that that exact outcome was a worry, but it might indeed have been a revelation that even in the Blessed Realm unexpected events like it could occur.
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