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Old 12-17-2012, 12:44 PM   #1
Galin
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Entwives crossing Anduin

In their guide to The Lord of the Rings, Hammond and Scull note:

Quote:
468 (II. 71). Great Darkness -- the time of Morgoth's domination of Middle-earth.

476 (II. 79). When the Darkness came in the North -- Again, the darkness that came from Morgoth. The Ents and Entwives therefore separated millennia before the present story.

I agree with both entries, but I find something a bit odd in Tolkien's larger description with respect to the Entwives. Tolkien has Treebeard also explain: 'They always wished to talk to everything, the old Elves did. But then the Great Darkness came, and they passed away over the Sea, of fled into far valleys, and hid themselves, and made songs about days that would never come again.' The Two Towers, Treebeard

This much would seem to indicate that the period in question is before the Elves pass over Sea, thus well before the Sun arose. Seemingly Morgoth's domination before the fall of Utumno then, I would guess.


Entwives

The chronology here seems to be: when the world was young the Ents and Entwives were together -- but next the Entwives gave their minds to the lesser trees 'and the meads in the sunshine' beyond the feet of the forest. And then comes the line noted by Hammond and Scull:

Quote:
'Then when the Darkness came in the North, the Entwives crossed the Great River, and made new gardens, and tilled new fields, and we saw them more seldom. After the Darkness was overthrown the land of the Entwives blossomed richly, and their fields were full of corn.'
Hmm. Doesn't this seem to say that the Entwives not only left Beleriand very early [possibly before the Sun appeared, despite the comment about meads in the sunshine] but migrated notably far, beyond Eriador and the Great River even?

Nothing to prohibit this I guess, but what do others think? Treebeard says the Ents saw them more seldom after this move, but again I would think they were notably far from Beleriand now. And I know Morgoth was a pretty powerful bad guy, but were the gardens of the Entwives really affected across Anduin [in some measure anyway] up until the time Morgoth was defeated in Beleriand?

Or is 'Darkness' here meant to be distinguished from Great Darkness? And if so, maybe the split between the Ents and Entwives occurs later? But if so, what does Darkness refer to?

_______________

When Tolkien was writing The Lord of the Rings the internal chronology according to the Later Annals of Valinor appears to be:

Quote:
V. Y. 1000 (...) 'All this while Morgoth dwelt in Middle-earth, and he made his fortress at Utumna in the North; but he held sway with violence and the lands were yet more broken in that time.'

V. Y. 1000 - 2000 'A thousand Valian Years of Bliss and splendour followed the kindling of the Trees in Valinor, but Middle-earth was in Darkness. (...)'

I think this period fits well enough for the Great Darkness noted by Treebeard, and Quenta Silmarillion delves a bit deeper with respect to the influence of Morgoth on Middle-earth as well.

Another possibility might be the time when Morgoth returns to Middle-earth after his captivity, but for that I would think we would have to ignore the description of the Elves passing Over Sea -- but if we do, I note another of Treebeard's comments: 'It is a mark of evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide the Sun; but Saruman's orcs can endure it, even if they hate it.'


Here Treebeard seems to be saying that Orcs first appeared in the period of the Great Darkness, and the Annals [again at this point in the external timeline] note that before the uprising of the Sun, Morgoth rebuilt his fortress of Angband, 'and brought forth orcs and Balrogs.' So that much seems to line up, but this arguable period of 'domination' seems to end with the rising of the Sun however, as the Later Annals of Beleriand note: 'At the coming of Day Morgoth withdrew, dismayed, into his deepest dungeon; and there he smithied in secret, and sent forth black smoke.'

Maybe the earlier period fits better after all, as again, the Elves can hardly easily be said to have fled over Sea upon Morgoth's return. In a sense the 'opposite' happened: the Noldor followed Morgoth back to Middle-earth, over Ice and Sea. Either way the timing seems quite early, and the Entwives to have migrated notably far from the Ents. What do you think Tolkien fans? Have I missed something obvious here?

Or too much ado about nothing maybe?
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Old 12-17-2012, 02:42 PM   #2
Aiwendil
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galin
Or too much ado about nothing maybe?
I'm always up for some useless pedantry.

There is a possibility that occurs to me, and though I don't think I believe it I cannot at the moment think of any logical impossibilities in it. When Treebeard says:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Treebeard
They always wished to talk to everything, the old Elves did. But then the Great Darkness came, and they passed away over the Sea, of fled into far valleys, and hid themselves, and made songs about days that would never come again.
. . . what if this 'Great Darkness' is not that of Melkor but that of Sauron? Various returns of Sauron throughout the Second and Third Ages could perhaps be described in such a way. In this case, the Elves 'passing away over the Sea' refers not to the original migration to Aman but to the slower exodus of smaller companies that continued through the end of the Third Age.

I admit this is a stretch, though, if for no other reason than that shortly thereafter Treebeard is clearly talking about the days before the end of the First Age.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galin
Or is 'Darkness' here meant to be distinguished from Great Darkness? And if so, maybe the split between the Ents and Entwives occurs later? But if so, what does Darkness refer to?
This seems the most viable solution to me. In particular, I would combine this with your suggestion:

Quote:
Another possibility might be the time when Morgoth returns to Middle-earth after his captivity,
Suppose, then, that the 'Great Darkness', when, according to Treebeard, the Elves passed over the sea or hid themselves, refers to Melkor's domination of Middle-earth, before the Great March of the Elves into the West. Then the 'Darkness', when the Entwives crossed the Great River, was after Morgoth's return. This would make some sense, actually, for after Morgoth's return, his attention seems to have been directed primarily toward Beleriand, so it seems reasonable for the Entwives to go eastward toward lands where his power was less. And since the first rising of the Sun was not all that long after Morgoth's return, the Entwives can very well give their minds to 'meads in the sunshine'.

Of course, this has the drawback that it relies on a rather forced distinction between the 'Great Darkness' and the 'Darkness'. But I think that an allowance for this can be found in Treebeard's nature. To one as old as he, and one whose pace of life is so slow, the time that passed between the Battle of the Powers and Morgoth's return may not have seemed so very long, especially across the distance of the Second and Third Ages; perhaps he thought of the 'Great Darkness' as encompassing both, with the ages of Melkor's captivity a mere temporary respite.

But there's another problem. Treebeard makes it sound as though the Elves were going about their merry business, waking up trees and whatnot, when the Great Darkness came; and, as a reaction to it, many Elves crossed into the West. But this sequence of events isn't what happened at all. Melkor's domination of Middle-earth began before the awakening of the Elves. They were born into that Great Darkness. And it was not until after Melkor was overthrown that they passed over the sea - which they did not in reaction to Melkor's dominion (which was already ended) but in response to the summons of the Valar.

To be honest, I think the best answer is probably just that Treebeard was himself getting a bit muddled in his old age. With so many thousands of years of memories to deal with, that would be perfectly understandable. After a while I expect all the comings and goings of various dark lords would start to blur together.
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Old 12-17-2012, 02:45 PM   #3
cellurdur
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I always thought that it was Sauron, who destroyed the Entwives when he created the Burnt Lands and not Morgoth. A few may have fled further East, but the majority of them would have lived east of the Anduin. There is even the implication that Sauron may have put them to use. This was Tolkien's view in around 1954.

I will have to look a bit further into the question of when the Ents and the Entwives separated.
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:11 AM   #4
Galin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiwendil View Post
I'm always up for some useless pedantry.
LOL. Good!

Quote:
Suppose, then, that the 'Great Darkness', when, according to Treebeard, the Elves passed over the sea or hid themselves, refers to Melkor's domination of Middle-earth, before the Great March of the Elves into the West. Then the 'Darkness', when the Entwives crossed the Great River, was after Morgoth's return. This would make some sense, actually, for after Morgoth's return, his attention seems to have been directed primarily toward Beleriand, so it seems reasonable for the Entwives to go eastward toward lands where his power was less. And since the first rising of the Sun was not all that long after Morgoth's return, the Entwives can very well give their minds to 'meads in the sunshine'.

Of course, this has the drawback that it relies on a rather forced distinction between the 'Great Darkness' and the 'Darkness'. But I think that an allowance for this can be found in Treebeard's nature. To one as old as he, and one whose pace of life is so slow, the time that passed between the Battle of the Powers and Morgoth's return may not have seemed so very long, especially across the distance of the Second and Third Ages; perhaps he thought of the 'Great Darkness' as encompassing both, with the ages of Melkor's captivity a mere temporary respite.
I like that. Treebeard is arguably simplifying things in the sense of greatly contracting history, and he does seem to quickly jump to the defeat of Morgoth. So something like:

Great Darkness arrives [a time before the Awakening of the Elves].

Treebeard generally notices several things about the Elves: a notable amount pass over Sea, some fled, some hid themselves. But Treebeard would possibly not be aware that Morgoth was taken captive, and so maybe it seems to him that many Elves leave Middle-earth because of the Great Darkness. But not all Elves cross the Sea of course, and later some probably do flee, or hide themselves (underground kingdoms or hidden kingdoms) at points soon before, or soon after, Morgoth's return.

This would allow for the orcs appearing in the Great Darkness, which can still be upon Morgoth's return but before the rising of the Sun, and perhaps with Morgoth's return the Entwives can leave at some point after they enjoy the meads in the Sunshine, as you say.


This generalizes the Great Darkness as far as Morgoth's domination or influence in Middle-earth is concerned, and it seems a bit problematic with respect to the period of Morgoth's captivity. Treebeard, although not noted as one of the Wise and arguably less informed than some, is still said to have had a great memory. Jumping to dates in the Annals of Aman and the Grey Annals:

Year 1 (a new reckoning in the light of the Trees)

Quote:
'But Melkor dwelt in Utumno, and he slept not, but watched, and laboured; and the evil things that he had perverted walked abroad, and the dark and slumbering woods were haunted by monsters and shapes of dread. (...) Yet ever his dominion spread southward over Middle-earth, for even as Orome passed the servants of melkor would gather again; and the Earth was full of shadows and deceit.'
So 'Great Darkness' part one -- part one generally lasting to the Fall of Utumno in year 1099, keeping in mind that these dates are not in regular years, so this is a substantial stretch.

However from 1099 to Morgoth's return is a great stretch too, and Melian councils Thingol that the 'peace of Arda' will not last. But it's interesting that evil stirs again before Morgoth returns, and in 1300-50 the Dwarves tell Thingol that east of the mountains dark elves were fleeing from the plains to the hills, due to fell beasts, as the Valar had not utterly rooted out the evils of the North.

This maybe gives some reason why Eriador wasn't deemed safe enough for the Entwives later, as they pass beyond even the Great River.

Quote:
1330 And ere long (in the year 1330 according to the annals that were made in Doriath) the evil creatures came even to Beleriand, over passes in the mountains, or up from the south through the dark forests. Wolves there were, or creatures that walked in wolf shapes, and other fell beings of shadow.'
It's noted that the orcs were but few and wary at this point, and did but smell out the ways of the land, awaiting Morgoth's return, as in the 1977 Silmarillion. Here the Sindar become well armed, and driving off all creatures of evil, had peace again. Morgoth retuns in year 1495, and in 1497 assaults Beleriand, now with an increased army of orcs. Year 1500 is the last of this reckoning, and when the Sun arises (SY 1) Morgoth was dismayed and descended into Angband, withdrawing his servants.

In SY 60 Morgoth tries the strength of the Elves, and the Noldor and Sindar have a great victory, and set the Seige of Angband, which lasted wellnigh 400 years, but still Morgoth sent his orcs to war in year 155 for example, and Glaurung issues in SY 260 for another, and bitter fighting in the north-marches is noted for SY 402. And in SY 455 'here came an end of peace and mirth'

So even though Morgoth was generally held in check, his influence was still being felt in Middle-earth after his return -- in reference to Treebeard's contraction of a Great Darkness I mean.

Athough I do find the time from Morgoth's captivity in 1099 to 1300 a notable stretch to include within the Great Darkness, again keeping in mind that each of these years is almost 10 years of the Sun. Sauron was still in Middle-earth, but in Myths Transformed it is noted that when Melkor was made captive Sauron escaped and lay hid in Middle-earth, and 'secretly repaired Angband' for Morgoth's return, breeding orcs to man Morgoth's host.


On the other hand, such a distinction -- that the Great Darkness had even a notable gap of relative peace -- arguably doesn't need to be accounted for here: Treebeard is speaking to two Hobbits (and in a sense, the reader), and generally speaking it was the same Morgothian influence that impacted the Elves as impacted the Entwives, and so the tale gets its general message across in any case.

Last edited by Galin; 12-18-2012 at 09:30 AM.
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