– You asked for it, you got it …
All this in a vain attempt to try and piece together a background for this character and place the name within the stories of Middle-earth.
And I wouldn’t blame them …
Celebrian is an extremely obscure figure, whose references in any of Tolkien’s works (by which I mean not just The Lord of the Rings), amounts to only a handful of words.
So who is Celebrian?
“Celeb” meaning “silver” and “(-rian)” signifying “crown-gift” was an elf of Lórien; and more importantly, she was the daughter of Galadriel and Celeborn.
Furthermore, she was the wife of Elrond and the mother of Elladan, Elrohir and Arwen.
Other than that, we have no date of birth, nor any indication of her presence before the beginning of the Third Age.
In Unfinished Tales, in the chapter concerning ‘The History of Galadriel and Celeborn’, we get a few references to Celebrian.
A note by Christopher Tolkien confirms the remark about her unknown origins: “The time and place of Celebrian’s birth, whether here [referring to a place near Nenuial between 350-400 of the Second Age] or later in Eregion, or even later in Lórien, is not made definite.”
Furthermore, sometime around (or after) the year 1700 of the Second Age:
She [Galadriel], committed Lórinand to Amroth, and passing again through Moria with Celebrian she came to Imladris, seeking Celeborn. There (it seems) she found him and there they dwelt together for a long time; and it was then that Elrond first saw Celebrian, and loved her though he said no thing of it.
However, one must be quick to note that this chapter – as Christopher Tolkien explains in its introduction – underwent constant changes and was never completed.
Indeed, the nature of the chapter is sketchy: containing a number of inconsistencies at odds with the established canon in The Lord of the Rings.
So, is Celebrian in The Lord of the Rings?
Yes, because she’s mentioned in the Appendices.
No, because of what is said in the Appendices.
There is one passage – the only coherent and substantial piece of text dealing with this character – in which we learn much about this individual; and yet, forces us to ask even more questions than before.
Some 500 years before the War of the Ring, during the ever-dwindling race of the Dúnedain, the Orcs – increasing in numbers around Eriador and the Misty Mountains – put at risk many of the Free Peoples; exposing them to constant attacks.
The full passage reads as follows:
In 2509 Celebrian wife of Elrond was journeying to Lórien when she was waylaid in the Redhorn Pass, and her escort being scattered by the sudden assault of the Orcs, she was seized and carried off. She was pursued and rescued by Elladan and Elrohir, but not before she had suffered torment and had received a poisoned wound. She was brought back to Imladris, and though healed in body by Elrond, lost all delight in Middle-earth, and the next year went to the Havens and passed over the Sea.
The Lord of the Rings; Appendix A – ‘Annals of the Kings and Rulers’
A short paragraph – and already I get the sense of a powerful love story behind it.
I feel awful for Elrond now!
It’s interesting to ponder for a moment what would have happened to Celebrian if Elladan and Elrohir had failed to rescue their mother.
Would she have been taken to the Sea of Núrnen where the great slave lands in Mordor were situated?
However, at this point in time, Sauron had made his way to Dol Guldur; and it would be another 400 years (during the time of The Hobbit) before he would return back to the Land of Shadow.
Of a more speculative nature: was the torment she received meant to eventually corrupt and transform her into a being similar to an orc?
Meanwhile, in the actual book, Celebrian is mentioned once or twice. The most significant scene takes place in Lórien, as Galadriel bids farewell to the Fellowship. As she is handing out gifts, Aragorn receives “a great stone of clear green”, of which the Lady of Lórien states that:
‘This stone I gave to Celebrian my daughter, and she to heirs; and now it comes to you as a token of hope.’
The Fellowship of the Ring; Book Two, Chapter 8; ‘Farewell to Lórien’
This stone, therefore, appears to have been an heirloom of sorts, handed down from daughter-to-daughter. And yet, as can be seen from the text, does not reveal any more about the character of Celebrian.
A tougher secret to unveil than Tom Bombadil or Ungoliant, and with almost no text to even attempt some speculation, it seems that Celebrian will remain a mystery; and unless some undiscovered text, letter or draft by Tolkien is found, that sheds some light on her character, we are bound to ponder only those fragments and handful of words that have been made available to us.
Surprisingly, this lack of detail and knowledge on a character, is even more alluring and fascinating. 🙂
[Copyright of screenshots/ images, belong to Warner Bros Studios and New Line Cinema]