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Silmarillion Discussion: Of Thingol and Melian, #2

NZ Strider

Feb 12 2013, 1:22am

Views: 839
Silmarillion Discussion: Of Thingol and Melian, #2 Can't Post

The enchanted King forsakes his people

There are many legends about kings who, effectively, turn their backs on their people after they have fallen in love with a beautiful woman who often enough is rumoured to be using enchantments. One thinks of Odysseus detained by the enchantress Calypso on the island of Ogygia. Here is one such legend, this time from mediæval Spain:

“After the king Alfonso [VIII] was married, as you have already heard, he departed to Toledo with his wife. And while there he saw a very beautiful Jewess, and he became attached to her so that he left the queen his wife and shut himself up with the Jewess for a very long time, in such wise that he could not part from her for any reason, and occupied himself with nothing else. And as the Archbishop Rodrigo tells it, he was shut up with her for seven months, so that he paid no heed to himself, not to his kingdom, nor to anything else. And they say that this great love that he had for the Jewess was caused by spells and magic that she knew how to make.”

Crónica de Castilla, chap. 491, translation D. Nirenberg

There are other parallels for such enchanted kings which you may wish to bring into the discussion; this is the one which happened to occur to me first.

5.) What do people make of Tolkien’s use of this stock theme? Is it merely a convenient device to explain why Thingol remains behind in Middle-earth? If so, is this disappointing? Or is Tolkien using the theme with a distinct purpose in mind?

Elven divisions and languages

Tolkien invented for his Elves various languages; the two which he developed most fully were Quenya (brought to Middle-earth by the Noldor from Valinor) and Sindarin which developed, it seems, amongst the Elves in Thingol’s and Melian’s realm. In Quenya it is “Elwë Singollo,” but in Sindarin it is “Elu Thingol”.

Up until now there have been hints at linguistic variation among the Elves (e.g. a statement in the Valaquenta that an alternate name for Oromë is Aldaron [Quenya] and Tauron [Sindarin]), but I think that here for the first time we get the historical and geographical context in which one of these languages arises.

6.) Is this the sort of thing which most readers pass over as “decoration”? Or is it the sort of thing which gives Tolkien’s legendarium greater depth as well as quasi-historical credibility? (E.g. as in “real” myths there are variations in names – it’s “Odysseus” in Greek, but “Ulysses” in Latin.) Since Tolkien studied precisely this sort of thing in his day job (e.g. the development of dialects in specific regions), is it just his own scholarly interests intruding?

The Sindar (with the exception of Thingol himself) never went to Valinor, so they are among the Moriquendi or “Elves of the Darkness” instead of the Calaquendi or “Elves of the Light”. On the other hand, their King, Thingol, did see Valinor in the time of the Two Trees; and through him and Melian the Elves in their realm attain a higher status than the other Elves who remained in Middle-earth. That places the Sindar – the “Grey Elves” or “Elves of the Twilight” – in an ambiguous position between the Light Elves and the Dark Elves.

Now Tolkien took many hints from Norse mythology, and Snorri’s Prose Edda in chap. 17 of the “Gylfaginning” or “Deceiving of Gylfi” does mention “Light Elves” (Ljos-Alfar) contrasted with “Dark Elves” (Dökk-Alfar). But there are here no Elves in an intermediate position.

7.) What purpose did Tolkien have in inventing these “Grey Elves”? Does the rest of the story bear out the concept of an intermediate position for these “Grey Elves”?

Subject User Time
Silmarillion Discussion: Of Thingol and Melian, #2 NZ Strider Send a private message to NZ Strider Feb 12 2013, 1:22am
    La Belle Dame Sans Chimichurri squire Send a private message to squire Feb 12 2013, 2:35am
        Perhaps Gov. Sanford demonstrated NZ Strider Send a private message to NZ Strider Feb 12 2013, 7:48am
            Whose enchantment is it anyway? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Feb 12 2013, 6:00pm
    Is it just a "stock theme" though? FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Feb 13 2013, 4:31pm
    Love and enchantment elevorn Send a private message to elevorn Feb 13 2013, 8:13pm
    Feminine wiles CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Feb 14 2013, 1:52am
    posting previous questions here now elevorn Send a private message to elevorn Feb 14 2013, 5:37pm
        Thingol's resume CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Feb 15 2013, 1:29am
    Late answers sador Send a private message to sador Feb 17 2013, 3:25pm
    a few thoughts on several great comments telain Send a private message to telain Feb 20 2013, 11:51pm
        Hyperlink to next chapter noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Feb 21 2013, 10:21pm


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