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Old 03-18-2013, 10:20 AM   #1
Zigûr
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Amandil

Hello all,
Something that's been weighing on my mind lately is the story of Amandil. I always thought that the tale of his journey into the West was one of the most haunting elements of the Akallabêth. It is one of those details which I have always felt makes the account particularly powerful. I suppose I have always found for my own part that Amandil does not seem to really believe that he could petition the Valar for mercy but that somebody at least had to try, which is an interesting variation on the often successful "fool's hope" (as Gandalf puts it) in fiction, where a major example of its success is of course the Quest of the Ring.

Anyway, I've always thought that the quest of Amandil fits so perfectly into the apocalyptic imagery of the last days of Númenor that it almost becomes hard to believe that he reached the shores of Aman, let alone spoke to Manwë, but it is suggsted that the grace of the Valar might have been responsible for the salvation of the Faithful in their flight to Middle-earth.

What I find especially tragic about the Fall of Númenor is how it represents the deterioration of faith in a powerful, advanced society. The Men of Númenor had become the masters of the world; what need had they of faith? But this meant that for all their strength they were only more weak: they had no facility for handling the one thing over which they could never have mastery, death.

Amandil described Númenor as "defiled" but noted that he was seeking mercy "since some at least have remained faithful." What I'm wondering is: do you think Amandil made it, and the survival of Elendil and his sons was mercy from the Elder King? Or perhaps Amandil was lost in the Enchanted Isles but the far-seeing Valar recognised his cause and granted mercy to his son anyway.

One other question. Amandil tells Elendil "There is but one loyalty from which no man can be absolved in heart for any cause." (p. 275) I feel confused about what he is referring to. Does he mean "absolved" as in no man can be released from his duty to Eru, or that no many can be forgiven for worshipping the Enemy? I'm assuming the former but it's a curious remark, especially in context: Elendil was concerned about the malicious rumours regarding the Faithful being proved true, to which Amandil replied "If I thought that Manwë needed such a messenger I would betray the King." I realise he is implying that the Valar already knew about the corruption of the Númenóreans but what loyalty is he referring to?
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:09 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Zigûr View Post
What I'm wondering is: do you think Amandil made it, and the survival of Elendil and his sons was mercy from the Elder King? Or perhaps Amandil was lost in the Enchanted Isles but the far-seeing Valar recognised his cause and granted mercy to his son anyway.
My feeling is that Amandil did not reach the Blessed Realm.
It was not only the fact that such an outreach could only move the Valar once that contributed to his failure: also, he was a mortal Man. Eärendil was the only one who could make that particular journey. Having the combined blood of Men and Elves, he was thus able to speak on behalf of both. Additionally, he had the Silmaril to aid him. Amandil had none of those advantages.
It could also be argued that the Númenórean sin was greater than that of the Noldor. The latter had been led to exile by a half-mad Fëanor, who, torn between grief for his dead father and agony of loss for the Simarils, used his considerable gifts of persuasion to convince most of the Noldor to follow him.
The Númenóreans fell victim to a corrupt desire to "have it all": they wanted unending life in addition to their elevated status among Men while enjoying a protected life on their island.

I believe the survival of Elendil and his people could be attributed to Ulmo. He was always a behind-the-scenes mover, arranging things like Tuor's arrival at Nevrast. Acts like that make it apparent he was moved on some level, either consciously or not, to move pieces on the board that would accomplish the designs of the One. I think the coming of the Exiles was another of those events that was "meant" to occur, and Ulmo seems to have been an obvious choice to make it happen.

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One other question. Amandil tells Elendil "There is but one loyalty from which no man can be absolved in heart for any cause." (p. 275) I feel confused about what he is referring to. Does he mean "absolved" as in no man can be released from his duty to Eru, or that no many can be forgiven for worshipping the Enemy? I'm assuming the former but it's a curious remark, especially in context: Elendil was concerned about the malicious rumours regarding the Faithful being proved true, to which Amandil replied "If I thought that Manwë needed such a messenger I would betray the King." I realise he is implying that the Valar already knew about the corruption of the Númenóreans but what loyalty is he referring to?
Since Elendil's question is about "betraying the King", I read Amandil's words as a warning that loyalty to any power on Arda which opposed the Valar (and by proxy, the One) would lead to evil.
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Old 03-19-2013, 06:50 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Zigûr View Post
"There is but one loyalty from which no man can be absolved in heart for any cause." (p. 275) I feel confused about what he is referring to. Does he mean "absolved" as in no man can be released from his duty to Eru, or that no many can be forgiven for worshipping the Enemy? I'm assuming the former but it's a curious remark, especially in context: Elendil was concerned about the malicious rumours regarding the Faithful being proved true, to which Amandil replied "If I thought that Manwë needed such a messenger I would betray the King." I realise he is implying that the Valar already knew about the corruption of the Númenóreans but what loyalty is he referring to?
Well, breaking it down grammatically:

"There is but one loyalty" = "there is only one loyalty"

"one loyalty from which" = "there is only one loyalty AWAY FROM WHICH" (I emphasize the away, since I think this is the crux of your confusion)

"from which no man can be absolved" = "which, no one leaving can be forgiven"

In other words: There is only one loyalty that you can never be forgiven for leaving--Eru or the Valar, and by saying this Amandil is basically taking the St. Thomas More line: "I am the King's good servant, but God's first," because he is justifying his disloyalty to the King of Númenor by a higher loyalty to Eru and his regents.
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Old 03-19-2013, 12:25 PM   #4
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Old 03-19-2013, 01:36 PM   #5
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Silmaril Blasphemy

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Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
Well, breaking it down grammatically:

"There is but one loyalty" = "there is only one loyalty"

"one loyalty from which" = "there is only one loyalty AWAY FROM WHICH" (I emphasize the away, since I think this is the crux of your confusion)

"from which no man can be absolved" = "which, no one leaving can be forgiven"

In other words: There is only one loyalty that you can never be forgiven for leaving--Eru or the Valar, and by saying this Amandil is basically taking the St. Thomas More line: "I am the King's good servant, but God's first," because he is justifying his disloyalty to the King of Númenor by a higher loyalty to Eru and his regents.
I agree with you completely here, Formendacil! I think Tolkien may have had St. Thomas in mind, in Amandil justifying his rebellion. Later, when Ar-Pharazôn attacked Valinor, an act Tolkien called one of blasphemy, Elendil and his followers refused their king's summons.
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Old 03-19-2013, 05:39 PM   #6
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Or Patrick Henry: "[In not denouncing George III] I should consider myself guilty of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings."
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Old 03-19-2013, 08:36 PM   #7
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Well this has certainly be enlightening! I should of course have paid attention to Amandil's use of "from" (rather than, say, "for"). I personally do not believe that Amandil reached the Blessed Realm either. For my own part I'm inclined to believe that Eru himself might have been responsible for the survival of the Faithful. He's not vindictive, after all. I think the story of the Faithful overall reinforces that notion that we always have a choice, even in the face of death or disaster. The Faithful made one and the King's Men made the other. The choice is there; we simply have to accept the consequences.

That is another idea which I think makes Amandil's voyage so poignant; he could have escaped with his sons and grandsons but he chose a different road. That of course meant breaking the Ban himself: it's interesting that in the case of one's loyalty to God being the only insoluble one, in this case sailing into the West meant both betraying the King of Númenor and breaking the law set down by the Elder King whose overlordship was ultimately applicable to all the inhabitants of Arda.
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Old 03-20-2013, 07:26 AM   #8
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That is another idea which I think makes Amandil's voyage so poignant; he could have escaped with his sons and grandsons but he chose a different road. That of course meant breaking the Ban himself: it's interesting that in the case of one's loyalty to God being the only insoluble one, in this case sailing into the West meant both betraying the King of Númenor and breaking the law set down by the Elder King whose overlordship was ultimately applicable to all the inhabitants of Arda.
Amandil's decision to break the Ban seems to me to have been triggered by many factors.
I see in him an old man despairing for the future of his home, and the safety of his kin. He probably didn't see a lot of hope in fleeing to the east over Sea, at least not for himself, otherwise he would have done so. He would obviously have been well-versed on the tale of Eärendil's voyage, and that event would have always had a romantic resonance for the Númenóreans, particularly the Faithful. He probably just thought he had little to lose by trying to recreate Eärendil's plea: either he would be successful and save his people, or he would perish in the attempt, and hopefully his kin would at least escape east.
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Old 03-20-2013, 09:10 AM   #9
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I don't think Amandil made it to Valinor, but either do I think his mission was fruitless. I cannot help thinking it played a part in Elendil being spared. Earendil himself was both rewarded and punished, much like Elessar did with Beregond. Amandil may not have been allowed to reach Valinor and perished in the quest, but his petition to save at least some of the people of Numenor was granted.
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