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Old 10-27-2006, 08:27 PM   #1
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Leaf Silmarillion - Chapter 02 - Of Aule and Yavanna

A short chapter – and one that has always felt like a bit of a detour to me. That’s not to say I don’t like it – sometimes a detour can be more interesting than the direct route.

This chapter is about the origins of the Dwarves and the Ents; and if the chapter feels a bit like the odd one out, perhaps it’s because Dwarves and Ents are, in a certain way, misfits among Tolkien’s races. After all, the Children of Iluvatar are Elves and Men, right? Hobbits are an offshoot of Men; Orcs are corrupted Elves (at least, that’s one explanation). Of the major races, that leaves Dwarves unaccounted for. This chapter accounts for them.

But it is more than an aetiological myth. It is also a fascinating glimpse into the character of Aule. One of the themes of Tolkien’s Legendarium seems to be the relation between artifice and evil – between the desire to make and the desire to control. The origin of Melkor’s evil was not altogether that different from Aule’s motivation in this chapter – both wanted to create something new. Aule seems to begin down the same path as Melkor but to turn aside from it by submitting to the will of Iluvatar (for which Iluvatar rewards him). It is interesting to note that among the Maiar, both Sauron and Saruman were servants of Aule. The Noldor were also closely associated with Aule. Tolkien thus provides a great variety of subtle variations on the theme of artifice.

Yavanna provides an interesting foil to Aule in this chapter. She is, of course, a nature-god in contrast to Aule the craft-god. Aule crafts the Dwarves; Yavanna does not craft the Ents but rather asks for them. And, as it is revealed, the Ents were in fact in the Music of the Ainur – and are therefore truly “natural”, truly an inherent part of the created world.

The whole inter-relation of nature and artifice is depicted in one stroke at the end of the chapter. Yavanna tells Aule that his children must beware the wrath of the forests. And Aule answers:

Nonetheless they will have need of wood.
Another reason that this chapter may feel slightly out of place is that it was not part of the Quenta Silmarillion as Tolkien wrote it. The chapter found in the published work is actually two texts by Tolkien spliced together by Christopher – the first extends up to the words “. . . whose mansions were at Khazad-dum.” This first piece, written in the 1950s, was indeed part of the Quenta Silmarillion – but it stood much later (chapter 13) and was part of a chapter on “the Naugrim and the Edain”. The story of the creation of the Dwarves by Aule first appeared in a few scattered references in the 1930s writing (including the Annals of Beleriand and the earlier Quenta Silmarillion), but it was not until this time that Tolkien wrote a full account of it. Dating from about the same time is another account found in a letter to Rhona Beare (no. 212 in Letters).

The second part of this chapter is from a text written in the late 1950s at the earliest, titled “Of the Ents and the Eagles”. It is, aside from a brief note from roughly the same time period, the only account of the origins of the Ents.

Additional readings:
HoMe V (for a few early references to Aule’s creation of the Dwarves; check the index under “Aule”).
HoMe XI (for the various versions of “Of the Naugrim and the Edain” as well as for “Of the Ents and the Eagles”)
Letters (for the other account of the making of the Dwarves mentioned above)
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Old 11-01-2006, 08:37 AM   #2
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An interesting question is brought to mind in your distinction between Dwarves and Ents, suggesting that Ents are "natural" because they are part of the Music of the Ainur.

Are Dwarves, then, not part of the Music?

That would make them an almost lone anomaly, and have interesting practical knock-on effects - for example, their fate would presumably be a complete mystery to both Manwe and Mandos.

Yet we know that in their separate ways Manwe and Mandos know quite a few elements of the fate of the Men and Elves. And that fate is surely affected in no small way by the Dwarves! The Naugrim offer invaluable aid in the Fifth Battle under Azaghal, craft lots of important goodies, kill Thingol and at one point nick a Silmaril, the physical representations of the fate of Arda!

I think the Dwarves must have been in the music and comprehensible to Mandos to a certain degree; but it rather beats me how.

"Nonetheless they will have need of wood." I remember some debate about whether or not this was the funniest gag in the Silmarillion. Personally it brings a wry smile to my face, if not a veritable guffaw, but later put-downs, especially by Curufin and Beren, do, I think, excel it.

(Oh, and if we take into account the Unfinished Tales, Androg the outlaw becomes a serious competitor for Jester-in-Chief of the Silmarillion...)
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Old 11-06-2006, 11:35 AM   #3
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There's something that I thought was funny in the chapter. Yavanna tells Aule-
They will love first the things made by their own hands, as doth their father.
This seemed like a tiny bit of a put down or at least a complaint about Aule loving his own work more than other things.

Didn't Yavanna realize the same was true of herself? After all, she voiced a desire to defend her work against others, and did not want to subject it to Eru's children. Her actions and words in the chapter make it obvious that she has more than a little love for the work of her hands.

And notice that she did not desire the Ents to exist for the purpose of fellowship and teaching, but rather to serve as guards for her handiwork. It seems to me that Aule's motivation is much more noble and worthy of the blessing of Eru.

And speaking of giving life to trees in order to stop people from cutting them down, I just thought I'd throw in a funny Jack Handy quote-
If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.
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Old 11-21-2006, 10:49 AM   #4
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One of the very interesting aspects of this short chapter is the interaction between Yavanna and Manwë:

Then Manwë sat silent, and the thought of Yavanna that she had put into his heart grew and unfolded; and it was beheld by Ilúvatar. Then it seemed to Manwë that the Song rose once more about him, and he heeded now many things therein that though he had heard them he had not heeded before. And at last the Vision was renewed, but it was not now remote, for he was himself within it, and yet he saw that all was upheld by the hand of Ilúvatar; and the hand entered in, and from it came forth many wonders that had until then been hidden from him in the hearts of the Ainur.
Here we have the nature-goddess figure inspiring the prime male authority among the Ainur. It is Yavanna who puts the thought into Manwë's heart where Ilúvatar then beholds it. And what does it mean that now, for the first time, Manwë is not remote from the Vision, just observing it, but is now a part of it? Is this an observation on the traditional dichotomy of objectivity and subjectivity? Until this point, Manwë did not have omniscient access to the thought of his fellow Ainur. Is this the "female" principle of subjectivity being granted full and proper place in whole or complete wisdom--something greater than mere knowledge?

As for the dwarves being or not being part of the Music, we are told that the forms of the Children who were to come were unclear to his mind. So here we have two male figures whose thoughts were incomplete. In Aulë's case, because he did not confide in his help-mate, his Vision is not made whole as is that of Manwë?
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