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Old 10-13-2006, 10:55 AM   #1
Aiwendil
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White Tree Silmarillion - Chapter 01 - Of the Beginning of Days

What a lot of material the first chapter of the Quenta Silmarillion covers! Within the space of about ten pages, we learn of the fashioning of Arda by the Valar, their first war with Melkor, the coming of Tulkas, the Lamps and the first growth and flowering of life, the destruction of the lamps, the building of Valinor, and to top it all off, the “Gift of Iluvatar” to Men – death.

It is striking that all this is covered with such speed. I suppose a rationale for this is that these are events that took place before the awakening of the Elves and about which they know little.

I’ve always been intrigued by the Lamps. It is quite a strange and striking image: two huge pillars at the top of which are light sources of comparable power to the sun, shining in an endless and unchanging day. The whole Age of the Lamps is passed over very quickly and is rarely mentioned again. It’s interesting that while the Age of the Trees is eventually seen as a kind of Edenic age, a lost paradise, the Age of the Lamps is not.

The Two Trees are, I suppose, no less strange and striking than the Lamps. The idea of trees providing light is, as far as I know, unique. The idea of light as a substance, even a liquid, is present here: Telperion drops “a dew of silver light” from its leaves; Laurelin “spilled a golden rain upon the ground”; the light spilled from the trees “was taken up into the airs or sank down into the earth”; Varda hoards the light in “great vats like shining lakes”.

The final portion of the chapter, concerning Iluvatar’s gift to Men, raises again some of the metaphysical mysteries of the Ainulindale. Men are given “a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else”. This has been interpreted as a statement that Men have free will; but what then of the Elves? Are their lives predestined, completely determined by the Music of the Ainur?

The textual history of this chapter in itself is fairly simple; the text given in the published Silmarillion traces its origins back to the “Sketch of the Mythology” of the 1920s, which was revised and expanded in several stages: the “Quenta Noldorinwa” in 1930, the “Quenta Silmarillion” of 1937, and finally the two stages of the “Later Quenta Silmarillion” in the 1950s. One point worth noting is that the final section of this chapter, concerning Iluvatar’s Gift, was actually not part of the Quenta Silmarillion in any version written by Tolkien; rather it formed the conclusion of the Ainulindale. Christopher Tolkien moved it to the position in which it stands in the published Silmarillion, presumably for aesthetic reasons.

It is also perhaps worth noting that the predecessor to this chapter in The Book of Lost Tales is of an entirely different character. It is, first of all, a longer and much “closer” account. To give but one example:

Quote:
Then said Manwe: “Now will we make a dwelling speedily and a bulwark against evil.” So they fared over Arvalin and saw a wide open space beyond, reaching for unknown leagues even to the Outer Seas. There, said Aule, would be a place well suited to great building and to a fashioning of realms of delight; wherefore the Valar and all their folk first gathered the most mighty rocks and stones from Arvalin and reared therewith huge mountains between it and that plain which now they name Valinor, or the land of the Gods. Aule indeed it was himself who laboured for seven ages at Manwe’s bidding in the piling of Taniquetil . . .
An interesting deviation from the later story is that in BoLT, it is Melkor who builds the pillars on which the Lamps are to rest; but he builds them with treason out of ice, so that they melt, forming inland seas in the north and south. Though the story of the pillars made of ice was soon dropped, the inland seas survived, the northern one being named “Helcar” in the published Silmarillion.

Additional readings:
HoMe I (for the earliest, BoLT, version described above)
HoMe IV (for the “Sketch of the Mythology” and “Quenta Noldorinwa” versions)
HoMe V (for the 1937 “Quenta Silmarillion” version)
HoMe IX (for the 1950s “Later Quenta” revisions; also for projected changes in “Myths Transformed”)
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Old 10-16-2006, 11:59 AM   #2
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Another excellent introduction to the chapter, Aiwendil. I like particulalry how you focus on the liquidity of the light of the Trees. It is intriguing that the creation of the lamps, a mechanical means of light, predated the birth or growth of the trees, a much more fecund creation. Their action as well is described with imagery of fecundity.

This chapter provides the second instance of a major alteration to Tolkien Sr.'s texts by Christopher Tolkien, the placing of the Gift of Illuvatar. I wonder, would it be valuable to have a thread devoted to identifying these changes--at least such major ones as this and the change to the end of the Valaquenta. I don't think there is here on the Barrow Downs one place where the major changes and emendations which CT made are listed. It might be helpful to see those listed.

I find it intriguing that the first sentence of "Of the Beginning of Days"--which is literally a chapter on how time came to enumerated--refers already to "the First War." This no doubt suggests the preoccupation of the Valar with their battles with Melkor, but to place warfare so dominantly is a measure perhaps of how central strife is to Tolkien's mythology. It does not have the petty jealousies and rivalries of the Greek pantheon of gods, but a central theme of battle between good and evil.

Two other quick observations. Tulkas has a characteristic which is very intriguing, and it is one which also defeats Melkor:

Quote:
But in the midst of the war a spirit of great strength and hardihood came to the aid of the Valar, hearing in the far heaven that there was battle in the Little Kingdom; and Arda was filled with the sound of his laughter. So came Tulkas the Strong, whose anger passes like a mighty wind, scattering cloud and darkness before it, and Meldor fled before his wrath and his laughter.
The bolding is mine. It is Tulkas who brings the gift of laughter, of comedy, which is also a means for defeating Melkor. I wish Tolkien had made more of this effect of comedy.

My last observation relates to the depiction of change. The beauty the Valar create is unchanging. The perfection of this beauty lies in large part to this quality. It is due to Melkor's hatred that change, decay, destruction, rot enter.

Quote:
... nonetheless the evil of Melkor and the blight of his hatred flowed out thence [ie, from Utumno] and the Spring of Arda was marred. Green things fell sick and rotted, and rivers were choked with weeds and slime, and fens were made, rank and poisonous, the breeding place of flies; and forests grew dark and perilous, the haunts of fear; and beasts became monsters of horn and ivory and dyed the earth with blood.
Does change necessarily have to be evil? There are cosmologies and philosophies which don't depict change in this way, isn't there?
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Old 10-18-2006, 11:29 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
My last observation relates to the depiction of change. The beauty the Valar create is unchanging. The perfection of this beauty lies in large part to this quality. It is due to Melkor's hatred that change, decay, destruction, rot enter.

Does change necessarily have to be evil? There are cosmologies and philosophies which don't depict change in this way, isn't there?
I wouldn't ascribe perpetual constancy to the valar. If anything, universal entropy was something that Melkor would have strived for, considering his sheer nihilism:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Notes on motives in the Silmarillion, Morgoth's Ring, HoME X
Melkor's final impotence and despair lay in this: that whereas the Valar (and in their degree Elves and Men) could still love 'Arda Marred', that is Arda with a Melkor-ingredient, and could still heal this or that hurt, or produce from its very marring, from its state as it was, things beautiful and lovely, Melkor could do nothing with Arda, which was not from his own mind and was interwoven with the work and thoughts of others: even left alone he could only have gone raging on till all was levelled again into a formless chaos. And yet even so he would have been defeated, because it would still have 'existed' independent of his own mind, and a world in potential.

Sauron had never reached this stage of nihilistic madness. He did not object to the existence of the world, so long as he could do what he liked with it.
Life is the ultimate engine of negentropy, and the valar are givers of life, well, at least fea-less life; they also delight in creativity, and that is also a facet of change, a most active one Sure; they are the most formidable sub-creators, and they also love the creations of the elves, in languages and all else. Sure in Middle Earth, we have the sleep of Yavanna, which encompasses almost all of the planet (save Melian's realm), but this is simply a moment in time, waiting for the coming of the Secondborn. Neither is perrenial constancy something that occurs in Aman; for one thing, the valar themselves change, in role, strength and abilities (such as becoming more tied to their bodies and losing some of their thought transmitting capacities); the elves too age (even the istari aged, though not very visibly).

Last edited by Raynor : 10-20-2006 at 12:28 PM. Reason: Repairing the entropy blunder
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Old 10-18-2006, 06:01 PM   #4
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Bethberry wrote:
Quote:
The bolding is mine. It is Tulkas who brings the gift of laughter, of comedy, which is also a means for defeating Melkor. I wish Tolkien had made more of this effect of comedy.
This is a very interesting observation. The Silmarillion, as I think I remember discussing in an old thread, is somewhat unusual in that there is a total absence of humour - that is, there is really nothing in it that is designed to make the reader laugh. But there is merriment - there are characters who laugh. Not many, perhaps; but I think you're onto something when you note that it is Tulkas's laughter (in addition to his physical strength) that defeats Melkor in the first war. Actually Tolkien's phrasing is quite interesting: Melkor flees before 'his wrath and laughter.' Wrath and laughter are not things that we would normally associate with one another.

Raynor wrote:
Quote:
for one thing, the valar themselves change, in role, strength and abilities
I think you are right. The Valar and Maiar change on time-scales much longer than those of mortals, or even Elves, but they do change. For one thing, they become less and less directly involved in the affairs of Middle-earth as time passes.

I think (and I know I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here) that the Elvish nostalgia that Tolkien depicts is more complicated than a reactionary "life was good long ago and now it's bad". Tolkien sympathizes with the Elves' nostalgia and their longing for Arda Unmarred by the evil of Melkor, but he also seems to see that nostalgia as a potentially bad thing. As the ages pass, the Elves (like the Valar) become less involved in the world, less able to really live because they are lost in the past.

If I may quibble, though:
Quote:
such as becoming more tied to their bodies and losing some of their thought transmitting capacities
I don't recall this every being said about the Valar. In "Osanwe-kenta" Tolkien indicates that when a Vala or Maia retains a physical manifestation for a very long time, he or she becomes tied to it and unable to adopt a different form. This certainly happens to Melkor, as well as (much later) to Sauron, and perhaps to other Maiar as well, like Melian - but I don't think that it happened to the Valar. I may be wrong.
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Old 10-19-2006, 02:17 AM   #5
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Here is the passage I had in mind:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Osanwe kenta
The hroa and tengwesta have inevitably some like effect upon the Valar, if they assume bodily raiment. The hroa will to some degree dim in force and precision the sending of the thought, and if the other be also embodied the reception of it. If they have acquired the habit of tengwesta, as some may who have acquired the custom of being arrayed, then this will reduce the practice of Osanwe. But these effects are far less than in the case of the Incarnate.
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Old 10-20-2006, 11:08 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiwendil
The Silmarillion, as I think I remember discussing in an old thread, is somewhat unusual in that there is a total absence of humour - that is, there is really nothing in it that is designed to make the reader laugh. But there is merriment - there are characters who laugh. Not many, perhaps; but I think you're onto something when you note that it is Tulkas's laughter (in addition to his physical strength) that defeats Melkor in the first war. Actually Tolkien's phrasing is quite interesting: Melkor flees before 'his wrath and laughter.' Wrath and laughter are not things that we would normally associate with one another.
Yery true, there is nothing designed that makes the reader laugh. Are there other aspects of The Silmarillion which demonstrate readerly, emotive appeal? If there aren't, would this suggest anything about Tolkien's concept of storytelling? He wrote The Hobbit for a very clear, precise audience and LotR began at least as a continuation of that. His readings at the Bird and Baby clearly had an audience--his friends The Inklings. What would make The Silm differ in that it does not have this emotive appeal to an audience? Would that suggest Tolkien's use of the Legendarium was mainly a personal exercise, a personal interest in philology and mythology and his desire to make something coherent to his own lights? I know that I often 'dip into' The Silm as I do encyclopedias, for specific points or characters. Perhaps this is due to my own personal tastes in narrative. But perhaps it also relates to how Tolkien thought of The Silm, as a working out of material rather than as a full blown narrative? I know of course that there are narrative arcs and consistencies in it and wonderful tales. But why does The Silm not have a comedic aspect which Tolkien's other writings do?

The connection between Tulkas' wrath and his humour is fascinating, and, as I said, I wish more had been made of it. Even keeping in mind Mister Underhill's observation that the old injunction to show rather than tell can often be overly ascribed, it would have been intriguing to see a demonstration of Tulkas' humour. Yet some of western culture's most scurrilous and scandilous humorists--Laurence Sterne, Jonathan Swift, Rabelais, Voltaire--have been passionately indignant about many shortcomings in human society. Can humour change things more effectively and less violently than rationality?

Obviously, I am sitting here with my cuppa and that engenders wild speculation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
Life is the ultimate engine of entropy
Engine, at least in its more modern sense of machine, seems an unlikely metaphor for life, particularly in view of Tolkien's own attitudes towards mechanism. Or are you using 'engine' in its pre-Industrial Revolution sense? At any rate, could you expand on this cryptic comment?

I suppose my question was more philosophical than analytical. What happens to the story as a consequence of the idea that Arda's Spring, the fresh young growth, was lead to decay and disease by Melkor? Look at all those words connoting disgust for what is, after all, a biological process. I mean, there was T.S. Eliot writing at the same time as Tolkien but who wrote that "April is the cruellest month", in contrast to poetic traditions of lovely Spring. It is one thing for Tolkien to argue about Melkor's nihilism but as so often when I read his Letters, I sense here someone working out a justification after the fact, rather than presenting an original motivation. I could be wrong, of course, as I haven't read all of HoME. Is "the long defeat" not possible without this sense that life's decay is 'corruption'?

Again, second cuppa, more ruminations.
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Old 10-20-2006, 12:29 PM   #7
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What a blunder! I meant the exact opposite: that life is the antinomy of decay and constancy; life evolves and adapts to "ever more advantageous and orderly patterns". Edit added...
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Old 10-25-2006, 08:59 AM   #8
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An interesting (to my mind at least) thought occurred to me while reading this chapter. After Tulkas first comes to Arda and puts fear into Melkor's heart, the Dark Lord apparently;

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Simlarillion: Of the Beginning of Days
... brooded in the outer darkness...
It seems to me that Melkor loved the Darkness. In Ainulindele he spent a lot of time in the void looking for the secret fire and it seems to me that he had a liking for the darkness. Hence becoming a 'Dark' lord. Does this mean that Melkor felt that darkness was his only hiding place? I think so. Later on we see that as the armies of the west come for him, he is in a deep and dark cavern. In the same way, his servants take after him, the Orcs hate the sun light as did Melkor and Trolls are killed by it. Even Sauron, when Melkor first falls, hides in the deep darkness.

So why did Melkor never 'flee into the outer darkness' again? I think the answer lies in his loss of power. After causing so much destruction and perversion of Middle Earth, Melkor is weakened and becomes lesser than the other Valar, losing his ability to change shape among other things. I think that Tolkien is perhaps suggesting that evil wears itself out and although it seems easier to destroy than to make, the Valar do not diminish, even after healing many hurts and making Valinor etc...

Thoughts?
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Old 10-25-2006, 02:59 PM   #9
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It seems to me that Melkor loved the Darkness.
Hm, I disagree to an extent:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Myths Transformed, II, HoME X
As a shadow Melkor did not then conceive himself. For in his beginning he loved and desired light, and the form that he took was exceedingly bright; and he said in his heart: 'On such brightness as I am the Children shall hardly endure to look; therefore to know of aught else or beyond or even to strain their small minds to conceive of it would not be for their good.' But the lesser brightness that stands before the greater becomes a darkness. And Melkor was jealous, therefore, of all other brightnesses, and wished to take all light unto himself.
Quote:
the Valar do not diminish, even after healing many hurts and making Valinor, etc
Not quite, or at least, not on the long term:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Notes on motives in the Silmarillion, iii, Myths Transformed, HoME X
The Valar 'fade' and become more impotent, precisely in proportion as the shape and constitution of things becomes more defined and settled. The longer the Past, the more nearly defined the Future, and the less room for important change (untrammelled action, on a physical plane, that is not destructive in purpose).
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Old 10-25-2006, 03:35 PM   #10
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Good points, Ray. I've not read HoME X as yet, else I may have spotted that.

I'll add a little to the theory about The Valar. They do fade, but it seemed to me that Melkor faded faster. He lost his powers pretty quickly, didn't he? All the while, the Valar did not fade as much and not so quickly.

Okay, so Melkor loved the light to begin with (and probably retained some of this love in his theft of the Slimarills [among his other motives]), but what turned his heart to the darkness? Perhaps shame? The principle of 'men hate the light for it reveals their misdeeds'* It occurs to me, then, that maybe Melkor suspected deep down, that what he was doing was wrong. Perhaps he had convinced himself that he was right but still something niggled at the back of his mind. Some remnant of a conscience, perhaps?

I don't know. We'd need a psychologist, and I'm not one.

*I'm not sure if that's the correct phrase, but you see my point?
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Old 10-25-2006, 04:04 PM   #11
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I also remembered that Ulmo states in Unfinished Tales:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Part One: The First Age - Of Tuor and his coming to Gondolin
Yet Doom is strong, and the shadow of the Enemy lengthens; and I am diminished, until in Middle-earth I am become now no more than a secret whisper. The waters that run westward wither, and their springs are poisoned, and my power withdraws from the land; for Elves and Men grow blind and deaf to me because of the might of Melkor.
Those are some interesting points, Hookbill, I will try to answer them:
Quote:
They do fade, but it seemed to me that Melkor faded faster. He lost his powers pretty quickly, didn't he? All the while, the Valar did not fade as much and not so quickly.
I agree; there came a point when he stopped being the mightiest after Eru. He himself recognised this when he became prisoner of Manwe:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melkor Morgoth, Myths Transformed, HoME X
Melkor must be made far more powerful in original nature (cf. 'Finrod and Andreth'). The greatest power under Eru (sc. the greatest created power). (He was to make/ devise / begin; Manwe (a little less great) was to improve, carry out, complete.)

Later, he must not be able to be controlled or 'chained' by all the Valar combined. Note that in the early age of Arda he was alone able to drive the Valar out of Middle-earth into retreat.
...
Manwe at last faces Melkor again, as he has not done since he entered Arda. Both are amazed: Manwe to perceive the decrease in Melkor as a person, Melkor to perceive this also from his own point of view: he has now less personal force than Manwe, and can no longer daunt him with his gaze.
Quote:
Perhaps he had convinced himself that he was right but still something niggled at the back of his mind. Some remnant of a conscience, perhaps?
I don't think he had much of that, seeing how he became obssessed with total anihilation - same great chapter:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Notes on motives in the Silmarillion
Hence his endeavour always to break wills and subordinate them to or absorb them into his own will and being, before destroying their bodies. This was sheer nihilism, and negation its one ultimate object: Morgoth would no doubt, if he had been victorious, have ultimately destroyed even his own 'creatures', such as the Orcs, when they had served his sole purpose in using them: the destruction of Elves and Men.
...
even left alone he could only have gone raging on till all was levelled again into a formless chaos
...
Sauron had never reached this stage of nihilistic madness. He did not object to the existence of the world...
Quote:
but what turned his heart to the darkness?
I remember this curious comment concerning Jules Vernes' captain Nemo: he became a demon because he was not allowed to be an angel.
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Old 10-26-2006, 02:52 AM   #12
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Thanks for clearing that up, Ray.

On a different subject, I'd like to know if anyone fully understands the whole subject of time in this chapter. The lamps continuously burned until destroyed and so there was no real method of telling the time. But the waxing and weigning of the trees was something I always found odd...
According to one of the HoME books* the times were something like this:

1 hour of Tees = 7hours, our time
1 Day of Trees = 84 hours, our time
1 year of Trees = 84000 hours, our time

Now, there are approximately 8766 hours in a 'sun' year (365.25 X 24) and thus:

1 year of the Trees = 84000/8766
= 9.582 sun years

This has me baffled. Why did Tolkien do this? Why were the years of the sun so much shorter? Or, perhaps a better question would be, why did he make the years of the trees so much longer?


*You'll have to bare with me as I can't remember which one, I just have my battered old copy of the Silmarillion next to me with it's pages of notes shoved in. I think it was HoME 4: The Shaping of Middle Earth, but I've lent it to a friend and cannot check.
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Old 10-26-2006, 11:29 AM   #13
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To solve this issue, we should first note that the length of a sun year isn't the proper one, as intended:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Of the begining of time and its reckoning, Annals of Aman, HoME X
For it was their intention that ten years of the Sun, no more and no less, should be in length as one Year of the Trees had been...
...
The shorter year of the Sun was so made because of the greater speed of all growth, and likewise of all change and withering, that the Valar knew should come to pass after the death of the Trees.
I think that the length of the Sun year is a reiteration of the motive of the Tree year:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Of the begining of days, Silmarillion
In seven hours the glory of each tree waxed to full and waned again to naught; and each awoke once more to life an hour before the other ceased to shine.... And each day of the Valar in Aman contained twelve hours
We have two periods of seven hours, which overlap, making a cycle of twelve hours. Let's see this in the years of the sun structure:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Of the begining of time and its reckoning, Annals of Aman, HoME X
...it was their first device that each year of the Sun should contain seven hundred times of sunlight and moonlight, and each of these times should contain twelve hours, each in duration one seventh of an hour of the Trees.
I would say that the years of the tree represent the archetype, while the years of the sun reflect it, on a lesser scale of magnitude. Seven and twelve are magic numbers in most religions; in christianity too (7:God rests on the seventh day, there are seven gifts of the spirit, Jesus spoke seven times from the cross, and this is even more significant in the Apocalypse; 12: twelve Israeli tribes, 12 apostles). These two numbers reflect perfection, in various stages; a perfection intended by the valar, but which it came not to be in full.
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Old 10-26-2006, 01:29 PM   #14
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But in the midst of the war a spirit of great strength and hardihood came to the aid of the Valar, hearing in the far heaven that there was battle in the Little Kingdom; and Arda was filled with the sound of his laughter. So came Tulkas the Strong, whose anger passes like a mighty wind, scattering cloud and darkness before it, and Meldor fled before his wrath and his laughter, and forsook Arda, and there was peace for a long age.
Sorry about quoting the passage again, but I've been wondering about Tulkas' laughter. There are various causes for laughter, fun, joy and merriment, but also gloating, haughtiness or disdain. The latter are feelings that were surely known to Melkor, even though he probably wasn't used to be at the receiving end of them, so we can ignore that. But even for joy there can be various reasons.


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And then all the host of Rohan burst into song, and they sang as they slew, for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the city.
~ The Ride of the Rohirrim
I see a similarity here between the joy of the Rohirrim and the joy of Tulkas. Tulkas came to Arda because he heard there was a battle in the Little Kingdom, not because the Little Kingdom was in danger or Melkor became too powerful or something like that. Not even for the love of the vision of Ilúvatar alone. Of course Tulkas is no Ares, who enjoys battle and slaughter not caring for the victims or for the sides who fight. He fights for the Valar and the vision of Ilúvatar, and when the fight is over he does not search for the next, though of course he's always there when there's a new opportunity, though this could also be due to his being slow to forgive.
Would Tulkas have come at all if there was no battle? The power of his laughter was essential in his victory over Melkor, but I don't think the source of his laughter was comedy and lightness of heart, but enjoyment of battle (and lightness of heart too, but for a different reason).

I'm straying a bit off topic now, but I think it's interesting that Tulkas enjoys battle, but the higher Aratar, like Oromë, don't (at least we're not told they did when at the same time it's emphasized in the case of Tulkas). At the same time, the Rohirrim sing in battle, but I don't recall* the higher Elves or (Dún-)Edain sing when killing orcs anywhere. Am I right to follow that, though Tolkien clearly had no disfavour to enjoy the slaughter and killing (of orcs), he did not let characters or people who "stand higher in a moral way" do it?

*which does not mean a lot.
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Old 10-28-2006, 10:55 AM   #15
Aiwendil
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Macalaure wrote:
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I see a similarity here between the joy of the Rohirrim and the joy of Tulkas. Tulkas came to Arda because he heard there was a battle in the Little Kingdom, not because the Little Kingdom was in danger or Melkor became too powerful or something like that.
I think you are on to something here. Tulkas's laughter does not seem at all a light-hearted thing, nor does it appear that he's laughing because he finds something funny. It is a grim laughter; he seems to genuinely enjoy battle and violence. There may survive something of the bloodthirsty old war-gods of the Book of Lost Tales in Tulkas.

Bethberry wrote:
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I wonder, would it be valuable to have a thread devoted to identifying these changes--at least such major ones as this and the change to the end of the Valaquenta. I don't think there is here on the Barrow Downs one place where the major changes and emendations which CT made are listed. It might be helpful to see those listed.
I had noted this interesting idea but forgot to respond to it earlier. The structural changes that Christopher Tolkien made to the Silmarillion would indeed be an interesting topic. Perhaps I'll start a thread on it - though if anyone else would like to start such a thread, go right ahead. I will, in any event, continue to point out instances of these changes as the Silmarillion discussion continues.
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Old 11-01-2006, 08:22 AM   #16
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On Tulkas's laughter -

I was reminded both of the Eomerish war ethic brought up by Macalaure, and, more incongruously, of the Druedain in the Unfinished Tales.

The Druedain are unlovely of countenance, but the Elves felt a keen affinity with them all the same. It is mentioned that Druedain and Orcs are most clearly shown as separate in their laughter; the beauty and joy of the Druedain's gurglings compared with the essentially mirthless cacklings of Orcs.

I say this because I differ ever so slightly from Aiwendil's analysis of Tulkas's laughter. It is taking pleasure in the killing of enemies and the spilling of blood, certainly, but I would not describe it as grim or indeed as fell, though Orcs and Morgoth flee before it.

Tolkien seems to describe it, to my mind, as a force terrible only to those who oppose it; like the roaring of Aslan, for instance. It makes Morgoth sick with fear because it shows him his inadequacies and weaknesses - he knows nothing of laughter, only twisted ridicule.

Tulkas doesn't take himself or anyone else seriously. If anyone here is a fan of Asterix, then you'll understand that I see him as a rather Obelixian figure, running around gleefully piling up Roman, or Orcish, helmets.

The Valar, as I think I said in the Valaquenta discussion, seem to singularly lack this anarchic, but benevolent spirit of Tulkas as the First Age grows grimmer. We don't hear of Tulkas at all after the Silmarillion's early stages are over and the Noldor strive in exile - unless Tulkas is to be seen in the Leap of Beren, the badinage of Legolas and Gimli, and similar acts of throwaway courage.
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