The Elves have Awakened!
In this week’s TTRT post we’ll be looking at ‘Of The Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor’ (spoilers!) and ‘Thingol and Melian’.
This is the appropriate time when you should start, frequently, browsing through the index of names and the family trees.
Things are about the get a little bit personal, and therefore, infinitely complex!
Chapter 3: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor
With the light from the Two Lamps of Valinor, Aman grows ever more blissful while Middle-earth and the Hither Lands remain in a never-ending twilight.
Meanwhile, Melkor – still building up strength and haunting the dark places of the world – constructs another fortress far to the north of Beleriand: Angband.
During one of the councils of the Valar, Varda creates the Valacirca, the Sickle of the Valar: a constellation of seven stars set in the heavens as a challenge to the Dark Lord.
The Awakening of the Elves
It is at this moment that the Elves awaken beside the lake of Cuiviénen in Middle-earth. Beholding first the light of the stars, the Elves hold Varda highest in reverence and have a deep love of the night sky.
It is finally Oromë, on one of his many journeys in the dark forests of Middle-earth, who discovers the Elves and befriends them.
News of this reaches the ears of Melkor who, as the Huntsman of the Valar departs back to Aman to bear the news, spreads terror among the Elves: capturing many of them and breeding the race of the Orcs.
Melkor creates the Orcs
The danger posed to the Children of Ilúvatar propels the Valar to action, and thus they ride towards Middle-earth and overtake the fortress of Utumno; capturing Melkor himself, who is dragged back in shame to Aman.
There he is made prisoner in the fastness of Mandos for three Ages, to account for his wrongdoings.
Meanwhile, Oromë goes back to the Elves to persuade them to undertake the journey West, and live within the safety and bliss of Aman under the protection of the Valar.
The exodus begins and most of the Elves undertake the long journey towards the western of Beleriand; but not without many of their own abandoning the quest throughout the way.
Now would be a really good time to look at the tree illustrating the subdivisions of the Elves:
(Just take a moment to briefly go through this illustration – which is also in your copy of The Silmarillion – and get an idea of how the Elves became divided)
It is also at the point that the three major factions of the Elves emerge: the Vanyar, Noldor and Teleri.
At the last, therefore, the Valar summoned the Quendi to Valinor, there to be gathered at the knees of the Powers in the light of the Trees for ever; and Mandos broke his silence, saying: ‘So it is doomed.’ From this summons came many woes that afterwards befell.
Questions to ponder on:
- Could the Valar possibly believe Melkor would repent of his actions?
- How significant was the Sundering of the Elves to the future fate of Arda in the First Age?
Chapter 4: Of Thingol and Melian
For a chapter that runs at a mere two pages, it discusses two important characters during a major turning point in the narrative of The Silmarillion, that will eventually affect the outcome of the rest of the history through The Lord of the Rings.
Melian is a wise and beautiful Maia dwelling in the gardens of Lórien. When the Elves awake in Cuiviénen she departs from Aman and goes to the Hither Lands (Beleriand and Middle-earth), settling in the forest of Region.
Meanwhile, Elwë Singollo – leader of the Teleri (one of the main groups of Elves who undertook the journey to the western shores) – ventures into the forest and stumbles upon Melian.
Enchanted by her beauty and skill of song (whose singing previously filled the halls of Valinor), Elwë is transfixed and remains lost from his own people – who spend years trying to find their leader.
Elwë Singollo beholds Melian
Ultimately, Melian and Elwë meet and fall in love; and from their union is established the kingdom of Doriath in the heart of Beleriand.
Many wandering Elves flock to Elwë’s realm and become known as the Sindar, the Grey-elves. It is here that Elwë becomes known as Elu Thingol and builds the underground city of Menegroth in Doriath.
It is told that the Valar would leave their works, and the birds of Valinor their mirth, that the bells of Valmar were silent and the fountains ceased to flow, when at the mingling of the lights Melian sang in Lórien.
Questions to ponder on:
– Do you see a striking similarity between Thingol’s first encounter with Melian, with Beren and Luthien? Is there a particular significance to this?
Next week it’s chapters 5 & 6 … so better continue reading!
P.S. And I’m seriously considering removing these stick-figure illustrations. It’s becoming silly I know …