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Old 07-10-2010, 07:57 AM   #1
Galin
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betraying Gondolin

So who betrayed Gondolin? Maeglin... but also, from The War of the Jewels, The Wanderings of Húrin:

Quote:
At this point in the draft manuscript my father wrote:

'Later when captured and Maeglin wished to buy his release with treachery, Morgoth must answer laughing, saying: Stale news will but nothing. I know this already, I am not so easily blinded! So Maeglin was obliged to offer more -- to undermine resistance in Gondolin.'

[a further note of almost exact wording adds] 'and to compass the death of Tuor and Earendil if he could. If he did he would be allowed to retain Idril (said Morgoth).'

Note 30 The Wanderings of Húrin

These are notes by Tolkien to himself, at least one written at the point in the draft of The Wanderings of Húrin where Húrin's cry is noted as being heard and etc, as used for the 1977 Silmarillion. That is, at this point...

Quote:
'Yet there were ears that heard the words that Húrin spoke, and report of all came soon to the Dark Throne in the north; and Morgoth smiled, for he knew now clearly in what region Turgon dwelt, though because of the eagles no spy of his could yet come within sight of the land behind the Encircling Mountains. This was the first evil that the freedom of Húrin achieved.'

Of the Ruin of Doriath

Back to WJ, Christopher Tolkien notes: 'Thus the story in Q was changed (IV. 143),' and then it is explained that the story in Q was retained for the 1977 Silmarillion, used in conjunction with the later text from WH.

I have no problem with Christopher Tolkien's choice to use both descriptions in the 1977 Silmarillion, but if the story was changed (as CJRT again notes in the Tale of Years in WJ), then was it changed to such a degree that the emphasis, at least, of the betrayal of Gondolin shifted to the mighty Húrin?


Again, keeping in mind the note comes from a point in the text wherein Morgoth 'knew now clearly in what region Turgon dwelt', and that this was the first evil that the freedom of Húrin achieved, to me this appears to inspire the change: Morgoth must say he knows the location... because he really does already know it.

CJRT noted in the Foreword of WJ that so much of the last chapters of Quenta Silmarillion remained in the form of the Quenta Noldorinwa of 1930 (aside from meagre hints) -- in other words, they weren't updated in the 1950s for example, like earlier chapters had been. 'Maeglin' was updated (the chapter), but Maeglin's capture before Morgoth remains basically from the Silmarillion of 1930 (not even the Quenta Silmarillion of the later 1930s). And...

Quote:
'For this there can be no simple explanation, but it seems to me that an important element was the centrality that my father accorded to the story of Húrin and Morwen and their children, Túrin Turambar and Nienor Niniel. This became for him, I think, the dominant and absorbing story of the end of the Elder Days, in which complexity of motive and character, trapped in the mysterious workings of Morgoth's curse, sets it altogether apart. (...)'
CJRT then notes the new dimension to the ruin that Húrin's release would bring: his catastrophic entry into the land of Haleth's people (WH).

But could Húrin as the 'principle betrayer' of Gondolin be part of this too?



For the 1977 Silmarillion, combining Quenta Noldorinwa (QN) and the Wanderings of Húrin (WH) leaves the impression (or does it?) that Húrin only betrayed a general location, and Maeglin's betrayal was needed for the assault, as Maeglin gave Morgoth the 'very' location of Gondolin (the word 'very' was added by CJRT), and 'the ways whereby it might be found and assailed.' (QN)


Comments? disagreements? especially if I've missed something and strayed off the path here.

Last edited by Galin; 07-10-2010 at 08:10 AM.
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Old 07-10-2010, 09:25 AM   #2
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I still haven't read most of the HOME books, including WJ. However, let's look at the definition of the word "betray":

betray verb
1: to lead astray
2: to deliver to an enemy by treachery
3: to fail or desert especially in time of need
4 a: to reveal unintentionally b: SHOW, INDICATE

From Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary

According to that, both Maeglin and Húrin "betrayed" Gondolin. My feeling though, and I think the inhabitants of Gondolin would have agreed, is that Maeglin was more culpable in the fall of the city, since his actions were deliberate, whereas Húrin was simply desperate and careless. Húrin could have easily told Morgoth all about Gondolin during his captivity in Angband, but he withstood years of torment instead.

And the indications are, in the Silm, that it was Maeglin's going too far afield in defiance of Turgon that allowed him to be captured in the first place. So that was basically twice that Maeglin betrayed Gondolin, the way I see it.
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Old 07-10-2010, 12:32 PM   #3
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OK, fair enough, but aside from whether or not Húrin should be called a 'betrayer' in the same sense as Maeglin could, I mean: does Húrin become the principle betrayer from a storial perspective, simply because of what occurred. In other words, the information that Morgoth long sought and prized was provided by Húrin -- the location of Gondolin, and thus Maeglin must give Morgoth more to buy his release...

... because the things Maeglin offers (in the two notes) don't seem to be about location. And it seems chronologically possible that in the 'changed' version an assault could already be in the works when Maeglin is caught.


Maeglin's actions are not Húrin's of course, but has Tolkien raised the curse here, in a sense, giving storial emphasis (if that makes sense) to Húrin's actions, with Maeglin's treachery connected to other (though admittedly important to Morgoth) concerns: undermining resistance and making sure Tuor and Earendil are slain.

Keeping both descriptions in the 1977 Silmarillion still seems to keep a strong emphasis on Maeglin and location... because what he reveals is the 'very' location of Gondolin, implying that without his more detailed information, no assault was yet possible. Despite the wording of the Húrin passage, Húrin's words were not enough for an attack on Gondolin.

Or as I say: does the Silmarillion as published imply this? do people agree with that much?


Incidentally, in my quote above, that should read: 'Stale news will buy nothing'

Last edited by Galin; 07-10-2010 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 07-10-2010, 01:36 PM   #4
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I might be inclined to say that Húrin was an unwitting informant that provided useful but not specific information, rather like revealing to someone that Topeka is in the state of Kansas. Maeglin was a traitor, and knew precisely what he was doing; he provided exact directions, showing that the direct route into Topeka was I-70. The residents who wanted to keep their location secret would not thank either of them, but if Turgon believed that even the general location of Gondolin would remain hidden forever, then he was allowing hubris to overcome common sense. Which of course he did, ignoring Ulmo's warning. In the bigger picture, one could view the curse upon Húrin as being a part of the already extant curse upon the Noldor, since it did play a part in the eventual manifestation of that curse upon Turgon and his realm.

Hmm, I think the heat may be cooking my brain....
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Old 07-11-2010, 10:18 AM   #5
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OK, that sort of agrees with my reading of the 1977 Silmarillion. And last night I read the entry provided by Hammond and Scull in their companion (Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin), and it too helped confirm my reading of the tale as published. Christopher Tolkien (commentary The Fall of Gondolin, The Book of Lost Tales) even notes that: Thus in the Silmarillion Morgoth remained in ignorance until Maeglin's capture of the precise location of Gondolin, and Maeglin's information was of correspondingly greater value to him, as it was also of greater damage to the city.

That said, my main point includes mentally taking QN out of the tale however, and substituting instead the information from the two notes, in which (I note) that Maeglin provides nothing concerning location -- or at least nothing that seemed of any use to Morgoth concerning location.

The Silmarillion is a compilation of two texts here, but the very act of including both descriptions arguably colours the true impact of Húrin's part. If one is going to use QN instead of the notes (as was done), naturally Húrin's role must be mitigated -- his information must be 'general' (too general to come with war?), for otherwise Maeglin's information on location will be 'stale news'.

It's not a moral comparison between Húrin and Maeglin, but a possible new connection of the Túrin saga to the Fall of Gondolin (IIRC in earlier versions Húrin's release does not result in revealing the location of Gondolin in any degree). Maeglin still has his part, but he is now 'too late' to deliver the whereabouts of the city.

This actually hails back to the early Fall of Gondolin from The Book of Lost Tales in a way -- not exactly, but there Morgoth knew where the city was before capturing Maeglin.

Admittedly, perhaps there would be more to Maeglin's part in any detailed long prose version, for example. Maybe Maeglin did have important revelations concerning where the city was, important in that their detail was needed to truly find Gondolin, as the notes from WH are relatively brief in any case.

But I think it's possible, at least, considering the importance the Túrin-saga seemed to have for JRRT according to CJRT, that the notes are in reaction to a changed idea, in that Húrin gave Morgoth all he really needed (it is simpler at least, from a storial perspective) to attack Gondolin, with Maeglin forced to give help in other areas to buy his freedom.

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Old 07-11-2010, 01:51 PM   #6
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One also has to consider the source of Morgoth's claim that he already had sufficient information. Not Húrin, but rather Morgoth himself. He's the ultimate liar, being the original. He may well be playing Maeglin with that statement, since if Maeglin goes away believing what Morgoth says, he could be less careful, thinking that there is no need to hide what Morgoth already knows, and thereby revealing what Morgoth wanted to know, without any possibility of duplicity on Maeglin's part. Double dealing would not be beyond him, and I don't think any version of the text does not allow for this, even if it fails to make a point of it.
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Old 07-12-2010, 05:59 AM   #7
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That's possible, but what is the reason to think that Morgoth is lying here? Why say that Morgoth 'must' answer in this way? he 'must' lie? again the text that inspires this statement includes that Morgoth smiled, for he knew now clearly in what region Turgon dwelt... which gives me little reason to think Morgoth is lying about this.

In The Book of Lost Tales the information about Gondolin from Meglin concerns the fashion of the plain and city, of the host, and the hoard of weapons, and he tells that Melko's host could not hope to overthrow the walls and gates of Gondolin even if they availed to win into the plain. He helps Melko devise a plan. The idea that Maeglin's treachery would involve other factors beyond location would not be a wholly new departure, but rather more like a return to an earlier notion (in general at least).


I also find Christopher Tolkien's choice of phrasing here interesting (the first is from commentary to WH, followed by the text from QN -- the second from commentary to the Tale of Years):

Quote:
'Thus the story in Q was changed (IV. 143)'



'510 The story that the site of Gondolin was revealed to Morgoth by Maeglin was later changed: see pp. 272-3 and note 30.'

To my mind that's a rather simple way of putting things if the story was not notably changed.

If Húrin's words were simply too general to be of real use, then how much has the story 'changed' if Maeglin essentially still provides the needed location of Gondolin?
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Old 07-13-2010, 02:09 PM   #8
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There is some great information posted in this thread. I always just thought that Hurin may have inadvertently tipped Morgoth off to the location of Gondolin, but Morgoth would not have been able to find a way through the mountains without Maeglin.

I wouldn't hold too much against Hurin though, since he was not really thinking clearly after years of torture. If blame is cast on Hurin, then he could similarly be partially blamed for the fall of Thingol and Melian's kingdom because he gave Thingol the Nauglamir, which led to the fight with the Dwarves and the fall of the two rulers. Doriath was at risk from that moment forward.

The fall of Doriath was just a series of bad circumstances. The fall of Gondolin...that's another matter.
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Old 07-14-2010, 04:29 AM   #9
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I think that in a way Húrin is to be blamed for all the Fall of Gondolin, the fall of Brethil and the Fall of Doriath, also in both cases other had a part as well.

When revealing Gondolins position, Húrin must have known what he did. He did endure 26 years pf torture to exactly that information and than he reveals carless in the wild.

And concerning Brethil and Doriath we learn in The Wanderings of Húrin that Húrin went to both with the intention to revenge the wrongs done to his son and family as he saw them (with the crocked view of Morgoth eye).

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Old 07-14-2010, 06:30 AM   #10
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Quote:
I always just thought that Hurin may have inadvertently tipped Morgoth off to the location of Gondolin, but Morgoth would not have been able to find a way through the mountains without Maeglin.
OK, but how have you arrived at this interpretation? In the notes to The Wanderings of Húrin, it appears, at least, that Maeglin reveals nothing about location that Morgoth did not already know.

CJRT appears to realize that the reader of The Fall of Gondolin will already naturally think that Húrin has revealed the whereabouts of Gondolin, so if Maeglin is also to do so (if QN is retained), it must be the very location (the word very added by CJRT) -- the reader naturally comes to the conclusion then that Húrin's part was too general -- a conclusion I agree with, based on an interpretation of the 1977 Silmarillion however.


The challenge is: mentally take out QN here (treat it as if it was not used in the 1977 Silmarillion), replace it with the WH notes -- combined with the WH text, what is the interpretation of the story now?
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