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Old 08-29-2002, 11:04 PM   #1
Eol
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Sting The Silmarils a precursor?

I working on the notes for the Fall of Doriath and it mentioned something interesting about Thingol and the silmaril.
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For as the years passed Thingol's thought turned unceasingly to the jewel of Feanor,and became bound to it, and he liked it not to let it rest even behind the doors of his inmost treasury; and he was minded now to bear it with him always, waking and sleeping. Silmarillion Of the Ruin of Doriath pg 232
This is the same Feanor obessed over his work as well bringing the King Thingol's death and Melian's removal from the world.


The Simarilllion when looked at after reading it through and understanding the stories within caused great consideration of it gravity. It is tragic on how the Silmarils brought so much lamentation to Beleriand and its inhabitants. Each story no matter how minor was tied to the power of the Silmarils.

The oath of Feanor's sons and the death of Thingol and waring that took place made me curious. Were the silmarils that Feanor created so long ago precursors to the rings of power, especially the master ring?

[ August 30, 2002: Message edited by: Eol ]
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Old 08-30-2002, 08:56 AM   #2
Child of the 7th Age
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Sting

Eol --

This will be a brief answer as I'm just on my way out.

To me, the tale of Beleriand and its eventual drowning is Tolkien's most tragic telling. For, unlike Numenor, where it is primarily Sauron and the men who are the ones who brought on the darkness, this tragedy seems to encampass not only Middle-earth, but even the Valar themselves whom, I believe, must bear some responsibility, for what happened.

In that sense, the story of the Silmarils is far sadder than the Ring quest, both in its outcome and in the well-meaning individuals who miscalculated their actions as well as those who were corrupted. But there is another critical difference between the Silmarils and the master Ring. You ask the following:

Quote:
Were the Silmarils that Feanor created so long ago precursors to the rings of power, especially the master ring?
I actually see a great difference between the Master Ring and the Silmarils. In the beginning, the Silmarils were created out of light and goodness. Even after all the tragedy, one Silmaril was set upon Earendil's mast so the people of Arda could see it sailing through the sky. It would still light their way, though from very far away. And a tiny splinter of that light actually became the phial of Galadriel which certainly had something to do with the defeat of Sauron.

All this is in sharp contrast to the Master Ring which was hurled into the cracks of doom to be utterly destroyed. This is because it was, through and through, a thing of evil.

In some ways, the tale of the Silmarils was more tragic precisely because these jewels started out as a thing of light and goodness. In my mind, the tale of Beleriand was the story of how the light became shattered and broken into many fragments. With the central light gone, each of us must cling to the little slivers that are left. The critic Verlyn Flieger wrote eloquently about this, and how Frodo actually became himself like the phial of Galadriel--a little sliver of light in a world of darkness.

So, while there are similarites between these objects, the differences are even more striking: one was an object of goodness that became perverted and shattered, while the other was evil from its first creation.

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Old 08-30-2002, 09:02 AM   #3
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Sting

Thank you for such a through post! It makes my curiousity wonder what would be a long post!

There are very sharp differeneces between the silmarils and the rings. I suppose why I was asking because of the power the silmarils seemed to have over the holder despite the striking origins. This power is also seen in the master ring where the holder would grow increasingly twisted by the hunger to keep it and have its power. May be it is the over way around.
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Old 08-30-2002, 09:19 AM   #4
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As Child of the 7th Age has pointed out, there is a fundamental difference between the nature of the Silmarils and the nature of the Rings of Power. The Silmarils are basicly good; the corruption associated with them seems to be wholly a result of the Oath of Feanor and the Prophecy of the North, not an inherent attribute of the gems.

The One Ring is, quite explicitly, not usable for any good purpose. It is quite clear that to take the Ring and actually use it against Sauron is not an option. This is not true of the Silmarils. Earendil used one to get to Valinor, with no ill consequences.

If any comparison is to be drawn, I think it would rather be between the Silmarils and the three Elven Rings. There are superficial similarities: the Silmarils were made by Feanor, the Rings by his grandson; there were three of each; the Silmarils ended up one in air, one in water, one in fire and the rings were Vilya (air), Nenya (water), and Narya (fire).

I would not say, however, that the Silmarils were a precursor of the Rings. That makes it sound as if the Rings were the important artifacts, and the Silmarils merely foreshadowed them. The Silmarils were, I think, far, far greater than the Rings of Power. It's more like the three Elven-rings are an imperfect remembrance of the Silmarils. Rather in the same way that the white trees of Numenor and Gondor are lesser images of Telperion. Yet another example of how Tolkien thought that the history of the world was a long, slow defeat in which much was lost.
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Old 08-30-2002, 09:41 AM   #5
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Sting

Despite the fact that the Silmarils, Unlike the rings of power, had no inherent power of good or evil within themselves, I think Eol may have a point.
Rather than saying that the Silmarils foreshadow the ring, rather, you could say that the rings echo the Silmarils, if only in the obsession they cause in the minds of those who possess them. If it began to obsess Thingol to the point where he was unwilling to let it out of his sight, so did the One Ring have a similar effect on Bilbo, who took to carrying it everywhere because he was uneasy when he did not have it with him.
I do think that despite the obvious differences between the two treasures, they do in fact have a similar effect on their owners, if only in this one regard. I wonder if this was done deliberately by Tolkien, or is an accident, and also if all great treasures would have the same sort of effect.
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Old 08-30-2002, 10:03 AM   #6
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Sting

Ravenna Thank you as that is what I have been meaning to say. I suppose I still need to work on my choice of words and phrases.
Aiwendil You made a very good point in the relation between the elven rings and the silmarils. I think it is actually spoken of in writing somewhere that the rings were made in the symbolance of the stones that elves loved so much.


I found the relation of obsession between the Silmarils and the rings very interesting. I feel that Tolkien did this on purpose as if you look in history and mythos, such power artifacts( whether born from good or not) have a possesion over its holders and bringing upon the holder a fate. Excaliber is the first thing I can think of at the moment. Can anyone else dervive where Tolkien may have gotten his inspiration for the obession of the silmarils and the rings?

[ August 30, 2002: Message edited by: Eol ]
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Old 08-30-2002, 03:26 PM   #7
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Just offhand: In history and legends most precious diamonds and some other gems are said to have brought misfortune and even death to their owners. I don't remember any names at present but mey look things up in a book.
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Old 08-30-2002, 04:50 PM   #8
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I also don't think that the Silmarils were "evil" like the one ring. I mean Eärendil used it for a good purpose. IMO the Silmarils/ Elven Rings comparison is a better one.
Remember that the people who became obsessed with the Silmarils were: Fëanor, Thingol and Morgoth. These are not exactly your models of ideal good guys or beings. A nobler character such as Beren would have been unafected by his beauty. (Although he wanted to get another sil from the crown of Morgoth. Hmmmmm)
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Old 08-31-2002, 01:16 AM   #9
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Sting

I am sorry if it sounded as if I meant to say that the Silmarils were created in the same fashion as the rings, as they were obviously not.

It was more the connection of obsession as mentioned above. Obesssion is an emotion even the highest of creatures have the capacity for.

What I can dervive from the creation and loss of the Silmarils is that the elves are not above such emotions. Many based their opnions of the elves upon what is read in LOTRs. However it will be hard pressed to get the message across that the elves are not perfect by any means, they are as "human" as the Men. Not all are noble, not all are wise when obession and desire take the mind.

[ August 31, 2002: Message edited by: Eol ]
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Old 08-31-2002, 10:01 AM   #10
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Sting

Eol --

Yes, you have a point that the tales of both the Silmarils and the Ring hinged on the quality of "obsession." But again, the Ring went one step further than the jewels. The obsession for the jewels rose in the heart of the beholder rather than being generated by the object itself. But, with the Ring, there was a compulsion which could not be resisted. In his letters, Tolkien said that no flawed mortal could possibly resist the Ring indefinitely, and that would have included Sam or anyone else!

Well, at least that post was short and to the point! (LOL)

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