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Old 11-03-2009, 05:38 PM   #1
Rune Son of Bjarne
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Silmaril Idril the Traitor

I stumbled upon a rather interesting bit of text about the fall of gondolin. (as it is told in The Book of Lost tales)

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Originally Posted by The Book of Lost Tales - The Fall of Gondolin
And another rede she gave him, and this he took also, that certain of the bravest and most true among the lords and warriors of the Gondothlim be chosen with care and told of that secret way and its issue. These she counselled him to make into a stout guard and to give them his emblem to wear that they become his folk, and to do thus under pretext of the right and dignity of a great lord, kinsman to the king. "Moreover," said she, "I will get my father's favor to that." In secret too she whispered to folk that if the city came to its last stand or Turgon be slain that they rally about Tuor and her son(. . .) Yet to Turgon she spoke not openly, nor suffered Tuor to do so as he desired
I am of course not suggesting that Idrill is a traitor, earlier in the text it quite clearly states the motives for convincing Tuor to build an escape tunnel and form his private guard.

I am however questioning her way to go about it!

When a person forms his own private guard and his followers starts encouraging others to rally behind him in case of the kings death, it starts to look like the preparations for a "Coup d'état".
Through history many people have been executed for less. . .

So is it just me or was this a very clumsy way of preparing for the worst?
Did Idrill (and Tuor) not take a very big risk by acting as they did, could they not have isolated Maeglin politically, make him loose the kings favor or just work on having the loyalty of the other houses of Gondolin?
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Old 11-03-2009, 05:54 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Rune Son of Bjarne View Post
So is it just me or was this a very clumsy way of preparing for the worst?
Did Idrill (and Tuor) not take a very big risk by acting as they did, could they not have isolated Maeglin politically, make him loose the kings favor or just work on having the loyalty of the other houses of Gondolin?
I think the stakes were too high for any other actions. Idril had been dwelling with Maeglin long, and sensed how dangerous he could be. She knew he loved her romantically, and that made him all the more treacherous and unpredictable. They couldn't risk trying to undermine him from within: had he got wind of it, I think he would certainly have killed Tuor, and possibly Eärendil as well.
That fear of Maeglin was certainly merited, as jealousy of Tuor was one of his primary motivations for betraying Gondolin to Morgoth. If he was willing to do that, who knows what he might have done if he had learned of a plot to shut him out of Turgon's favour?
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Old 11-03-2009, 06:03 PM   #3
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I think the stakes were too high for any other actions. Idril had been dwelling with Maeglin long, and sensed how dangerous he could be. She knew he loved her romantically, and that made him all the more treacherous and unpredictable. They couldn't risk trying to undermine him from within: had he got wind of it, I think he would certainly have killed Tuor, and possibly Eärendil as well.
That fear of Maeglin was certainly merited, as jealousy of Tuor was one of his primary motivations for betraying Gondolin to Morgoth. If he was willing to do that, who knows what he might have done if he had learned of a plot to shut him out of Turgon's favour?
If he would do that, then surely he was so unstable that he could have tried to kill them all even without them trying to shut him out.

Now Tuor was held in high regard with the king, if he could improve his position with the king even more, then he might not have to plot, but simply use his influence to limit Maeglin's power.

Instead they chose a path that could lead to total destruction, if Maeglin had found out what Idril had done and used the information right, he could have isolated them or worse.
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Old 11-03-2009, 08:22 PM   #4
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Now Tuor was held in high regard with the king, if he could improve his position with the king even more, then he might not have to plot, but simply use his influence to limit Maeglin's power.
But Maeglin was Turgon's nephew. He had enough influence with Turgon to convince him to flaut the advice of Ulmo. I just don't see anything, short of murder or taking Idril to wife by force, that could have lessened Maeglin's standing in Gondolin.
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Old 12-10-2009, 12:15 PM   #5
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I have always admired Idril. Given that the preparations were largely in the event of Turgon's death and she was the rightful heir - or mother of the heir if a woman was considered unfit I think coup d'etat is not quite the situation. I do see that it could look bad especially since Turgon's weakness was his faith in the strength of Gondolin.

I have always thought of Idril as wise and resourceful and motivated by the good of her people. Tolkien's blondes are so much more interesting than the brunettes
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Old 12-10-2009, 12:20 PM   #6
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When a person forms his own private guard and his followers starts encouraging others to rally behind him in case of the kings death, it starts to look like the preparations for a "Coup d'état".
That's a very modern way of looking at things. In earlier days, before the State acquired a monopoly of lawful force, virtually all great nobles maintained armed retainers. Depending on the state of law and order, it often was just common sense!

Given the expectation (justified) that *Maeglin* might resort to violence, I see nothing treasonable in forming a bodyguard.
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Old 12-11-2009, 06:08 AM   #7
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I do not doubt that Idril's intentions where pure, it is how her actions looked in the eyes of others that I have my doubts over.

I do realise that en feudal societies the nobility was the sword weilding class and that it was not uncommon to keep some number of armed men. How many was kept varies greatly. . .

Gondolin however does not strike me as a typical feudal society.It seems like the nobility of Gondolin is without land, atleast compared to the land possesing nobility of europe. In many respects it was this land that enabled the nobility to keep an armed force and to contribute to countrys army.

It is clear that the different leaders of Gondolin had followers, but I don't seem to recal it being normal with a body guard and so to me it still seems that Idril's actions must have seem drastic.

Of course she was the rightful heir as Mith points out and that might have made it look less suspicous, although righful heirs have been known to usurp the throne before time.
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Old 12-24-2009, 10:04 AM   #8
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^^ I don't think Idril was thought of as Turgon's heir. One of the stories that Maeglin's mother told him according to the Silmarillon is that Turgon had no heir. I don't believe that it is expressly stated but that phrase seemed to imply that Turgon's lack of a successor was one of the things that Maeglin found interesting about Gondolin and may have motivated him to go there.

With respect to Rune's original question, I think that Idril did the best that she could in the circumstances. Turgon did not want to leave, not merely because of Maeglin's counsel but because he himself had fallen into the trap of loving too well the work of his hands. Perhaps Idril had already tried a more direct approach, trying to get her father to listen to Tuor's warning and having failed at that she went to plan B.
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