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Old 11-10-2006, 12:59 PM   #1
Aiwendil
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Boots Silmarillion - Chapter 03 - Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor

This is a critical chapter if ever there was one. The Elves awake; the Valar go to war and defeat Morgoth; the Elves (well, some of them) begin their Great Journey to Aman. It seems to me that this is the chapter where the mythological narrative begins to give way to the pseudo-historical. We have on the one hand the last great demiurgic work of the Valar – Varda’s kindling of the stars – and on the other the early history of the Elves.

We also see the Valar holding council here, and they come across very much as regents or administrators of Arda. Their debates concerning how best to govern the world (though only briefly glimpsed) strike me as rather like the debates that the deliberative bodies of a modern republic are supposed to have – though of course, Manwe always has the final authority. It is interesting to note that Ulmo would have preferred not to summon the Elves to Aman. I see in this another suggestion of the Nature vs. Artifice dichotomy that crops up again and again in the Silmarillion – Ulmo, the naturalist, prefers to leave the Elves alone. Though he is not mentioned here, I would be surprised if Aule (the quintessential craftsman and Artificer) were not of the opposite opinion. What do you think might have happened if the Valar had followed Ulmo’s advice and left the Elves in Middle-earth?

A much debated point related to this chapter is the origin of Orcs. Here we are told that, at least according to some among the wise, the Orcs were bred from those Elves captured by Melkor. The origin of Orcs was, however, a vexing problem for Tolkien, and this statement was far from his last word on the subject, though it is unclear what his final decision was (if indeed he ever reached one).

The final part of the chapter tells of the great march and the sundering of the Elves. In the mature Legendarium, Tolkien presents us with many different groups of Elves, subtly (and overtly) distinct in many ways – in particular, we have various groups splitting off at various points along the westward road. This is a feature of the story that was developed significantly from the earliest writings, where there is no suggestion of the Avari, the Nandor, or the Laiquendi.

The story of Melkor’s captivity and the westward journey of the Elves takes up two chapters in the old Book of Lost Tales – there, however, the story is quite different; the Elves awake, for example, after Melkor has been chained. In the subsequent ‘Sketch of the Mythology’ the story attained its final form in many essential features. In the late writings, there are some texts of interest relating to this chapter. In ‘Quendi and Eldar’, Tolkien discusses the early history of the Elves at Cuivienen and provides a short ‘fairy tale’ – the Cuivienyarna - concerning their awakening. One noteworthy piece of information found there is that the number of Elves who awoke there was 144. In other late writing, Tolkien projected some revisions to the story of the Battle of the Powers – in this version, Melkor, becoming aware that the Valar would defeat him, submitted to them with the intention of being brought to Valinor and bringing it down ‘from the inside’.

Additional Readings
HoMe I - ‘The Chaining of Melko’ and ‘The Coming of the Elves’ – the earliest version of this chapter
HoMe IV - subsequent versions found in the ‘Sketch’ and the ‘Quenta’
HoMe V - yet another subsequent version found in the ‘Quenta Silmarillion’
HoMe X - post-LotR re-writes of the ‘QS’ and an account in the ‘Annals of Aman’
HoMe X – the ‘Myths Transformed’ section for notes on the origin of Orcs and projected revisions
HoMe XI – the ‘Quendi and Eldar’ section for some discussion of the early Elves, including the ‘Cuivienyarna’.
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Old 11-13-2006, 10:38 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiwendil
Though he is not mentioned here, I would be surprised if Aule (the quintessential craftsman and Artificer) were not of the opposite opinion.
Actually, we pretty much have evidence that this is Aulë's opinion-- from the last chapter. Recall his motivation for making the Dwarves: he was impatient for the Elves to come along, that he might have pupils. And pupils means coming to Valinor.
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Old 11-13-2006, 04:37 PM   #3
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You're quite right. Actually, I found another passage today that states it clearly. From the 'Finwe and Miriel' material in HoMe X:

Quote:
Thus Aule spake being unwilling to believe that any taint of the Shadow lay upon Feanor, or upon any of the Noldor. He had been the most eager to summon them to Valinor.
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Old 11-15-2006, 07:34 AM   #4
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Poor Aule; even his dear wife argued against him at the council.
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Old 11-20-2006, 08:00 AM   #5
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This is a chapter with some startling aesthetic touches, which make up for the fact that we still have few characters who are both interesting and not gods. The Coming of the Elves is a strange mixture of lyricism, darkness and dark lyricism. Some of my favourites -

Quote:
But already the oldest living things had arisen: in the seas the great weeds, and on earth the shadow of great trees; and in the valleys of the night-clad hills there were dark creatures old and strong.
The great weeds particularly unconventional and chilling and conducive to awe, like a moment from The Tempest or King Lear. "The great weeds..."

Quote:
That stronghold was commanded by Sauron, lieutenant of Melkor; and it was named Angband.
Iconic moment.

Quote:
"Shall they walk in darkness while we have light? Shall they call Melkor lord while Manwë sits upon Taniquetil?'
Yavanna's best line yet. Sadly, ultimately the answer, for all Tulkas can do, will be Yes, they will.

Quote:
Great light shall be for their waning.
Typically beautifully ominous Mandos. I think he refers here to the arrival of Fingolfin's host at the rising of the Sun and Moon, ushering in the glories of the noldor which will enrich and destroy the Elves. I think.

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...beneath the innumerable stars, faint and far.
How I love stars.

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In the changes of the world the shapes of lands and of seas have been broken and remade; the rivers have not kept their couses, neither have mountains remained steadfast; and to Cuivienen there is no returning...
So true. None of us can ever return to our Cuivienen.

Quote:
"Themselves they named the Quendi, signifying those that speak with voices; for as yet they had met no other living things that spoke or sang."
The wonderful, naive, innocent arrogance of this, a child's self-centredness, especially as Orome is about to ride up to them!

Quote:
For who of the living has descended into the pits of Utumno, or has explored the darkness of the counsels of Melkor?
Scary Gothic rhetorical question. Poe shivers come upon me.

In the section with Melkor and the Valar fighting and messing up the land, little do we know that words like Dorthonion and the Bay of Balar will later assume crucial significance. This passage in a way makes inevitable the final tragic sinking of Beleriand - born from a divine struggle, it was to be destroyed in one also.

In the debate over whether to summon the Elves, my inclination would initially be to agree with Ulmo and Yavanna. However, if we recall that responding to the summons was to some extent voluntary it seems a little less heavy-handed. No Maia heavies forced Lenwe and Denethor to keep marching on, at least. But by the Third Age all Elves would feel themselves called and the summons would at last, I suppose, win out.

Is this truly a Summons, or only an Invitation? Or does it harden from the latter to the former?
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Old 11-20-2006, 12:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Typically beautifully ominous Mandos. I think he refers here to the arrival of Fingolfin's host at the rising of the Sun and Moon, ushering in the glories of the noldor which will enrich and destroy the Elves. I think.
I agree with your interpretation; in HoME IV, I think this is even more apparent in the last note to chapter six of the Quenta:
Quote:
...for measured time had come into the world, and the first of days; and thereafter the lives of the Eldar that remained in the Hither Lands were lessened, and their waning was begun.
Quote:
Quote:
"Shall they walk in darkness while we have light? Shall they call Melkor lord while Manwë sits upon Taniquetil?'
Yavanna's best line yet. Sadly, ultimately the answer, for all Tulkas can do, will be Yes, they will.
You are correct, less the part where they called Melkor lord; elves, unlike, never served Melkor willingly.
Quote:
The wonderful, naive, innocent arrogance of this, a child's self-centredness, especially as Orome is about to ride up to them!
I wonder at what time did the talking animals started to appear - besides the eagles.
Quote:
Is this truly a Summons, or only an Invitation?
In the context, I belive it is a summon with a twist, as seen in Later Quenta Silmarillion:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Of the coming of the elves, HoME X
Nonetheless the Elves were at first unwilling to hearken to the summons, for they had as yet seen the Valar only in their wrath as they went to war, save Orome alone, and they were filled with dread. Therefore Orome was sent again to them, and he chose from among them three ambassadors; and he brought them to Valmar. These were Ingwe and Finwe and Elwe, who after were kings of the Three Kindreds of the Eldar; and coming they were filled with awe by the glory and majesty of the Valar and desired greatly the light and splendour of the Trees. Therefore they returned and counselled the Elves to remove into the West, and the greater part of the people hearkened to their counsel. This they did of their free will, and yet were swayed by the majesty of the gods, ere their own wisdom was full grown.
It seems like the valar "took advantage" of the premature elves; this view would be supported by Unfinished Tales also:
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Istari
And this [the sending of the Istari] the Valar did, desiring to amend the errors of old, especially that they had attempted to guard and seclude the Eldar by their own might and glory fully revealed
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Old 11-21-2006, 11:00 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Raynor
Poor Aule; even his dear wife argued against him at the council.
Hmm. Is your comment based more on Primary World notions of authority in matrimony? What are the conditions of marriage among the Valar?

Surely if one of them is given an aspect of the world to care for, that care does not diminish upon private cohabitation.
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Old 11-21-2006, 12:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Hmm. Is your comment based more on Primary World notions of authority in matrimony?
No, that is not what I had in mind. I think it was quite funny, in a way, to see Aule defending the elves, almost all by himself. All the others against him; so what if they were proven true in the end? Pfft. His loyalty (if I can so call it - arguing for them being free from evil) for the Children of Eru, although "unreasonable", is moving to me. I am fond of all those jokes where good friends side with you, even if you are wrong, even if they know you are wrong. I know, I know, that is not a good thing in itself, not even to wish for; nice nonetheless .
Quote:
What are the conditions of marriage among the Valar?
According to the commentary on the first section of the Annals of Aman, the spouse means for valar "only an 'association'". They affinities are evident in their bodies (or perhaps more exactly, in their gender):
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ainulindale, Silmarillion
But when they desire to clothe themselves the Valar take upon them forms some as of male and some as of female; for that difference of temper they had even from their beginning, and it is but bodied forth in the choice of each, not made by the choice, even as with us male and female may be shown by the raiment but is not made thereby.
I would say that their "born" affinities are also evident in the choice of their "spouses"; given their imense status, I would say that each were independent in decision making from the others, sort of speaking - although united in the purpose of serving Eru.
Quote:
Surely if one of them is given an aspect of the world to care for, that care does not diminish upon private cohabitation.
I would note that there is strife however between their creations, as foretold by Eru:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Of Aule and Yavanna, Simlarillion
But when the time comes I will awaken them, and they shall be to thee as children; and often strife shall arise between thine and mine, the children of my adoption and the children of my choice.
And Aule's and Yavanna's children:
Quote:
- Now let thy children beware! For there shall walk a power in the forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril.

- Nonetheless they will have need of wood, said Aule, and he went on with his smith-work.
Perhaps this strife would also reflect on the relations between the valar, esspecially with "spouses".
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Old 11-21-2006, 01:44 PM   #9
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Raynor wrote:
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I think it was quite funny, in a way, to see Aule defending the elves, almost all by himself. All the others against him;
I wouldn't say that 'all the others are against him'. On the contrary, it seems to me that most of the Valar are, at this point, on Aule's side - after all, they do go to war for the sake of the Elves and they do summon the Elves to Valinor.

Anguirel wrote:
Quote:
Is this truly a Summons, or only an Invitation? Or does it harden from the latter to the former?
It seems to me to be the latter. As you point out, the Valar don't seem to object to Lenwe's turning aside - nor to the refusal of the summons by the Avari. I think that, even if summoning the Elves was the 'wrong' decision, the Valar are actually rather wise here - if they were to force the Elves to come to Aman, they would surely lose a lot of esteem among them. Moreover, the Elves would really be 'prisoners' in a sense.
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Old 11-21-2006, 01:48 PM   #10
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I wouldn't say that 'all the others are against him'. On the contrary, it seems to me that most of the Valar are, at this point, on Aule's side - after all, they do go to war for the sake of the Elves and they do summon the Elves to Valinor.
I was referring to the debate from Laws and customs of the eldar, mentioned previously, firstly by you, about whether Miriel death was due to the marring of the eldar (an idea which Aule rejected).
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Old 11-21-2006, 02:26 PM   #11
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[quote=Raynor]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Of Aule and Yavanna, Simlarillion
But when the time comes I will awaken them, and they shall be to thee as children; and often strife shall arise between thine and mine, the children of my adoption and the children of my choice.
I've always found this line interesting for how it revisits the line in Genesis concerning enmity between the serpent and womankind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Genesis 3:15, not the rock band
I will put emnity between you and the woman, between your brood and hers. They shall strike at your head and you shall strike at their hee.
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Old 11-21-2006, 08:18 PM   #12
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I was referring to the debate from Laws and customs of the eldar, mentioned previously, firstly by you, about whether Miriel death was due to the marring of the eldar (an idea which Aule rejected).
Ah - sorry, I was half asleep when I read that.
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Old 11-22-2006, 08:09 PM   #13
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Hmm, maybe I'm the only one who finds that echo of Genesis interesting. In Genesis, the emnity is between the serpent who led the woman astray and it is imposed as punishment by Yahweh. Yet the echo does not reproduce a similar situation.

In The Silm the occasion of strife is much different and is not a punishment per se. The discord between the elves and men is described in part as a sibling rivalry, but it is occassioned not by seduction or by a breaking of a prohibition directly. It happens because Aule is overcome by the urge to subcreate and by his desire to ensure suitable people to fight Melkor. He remembered parts of the Music, but his memory was unclear. His creation--and it is a creation and not a breaking--arises not from a desire to harm or to destroy, but from an impatience and a desire to ensure that right prospers. It would seem that here he succumbs to the very kind of temptation which Gandalf envisioned for himself should he take the Ring.

That ill effect may arise from the misplaced desire to do good is, I think, very intriguing, especially since Aule is not condemned for his actions.
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