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Silmarillion Discussion Chapter 10: Of the Sindar

Finwe
Lorien


Apr 22 2013, 2:19pm


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Silmarillion Discussion Chapter 10: Of the Sindar Can't Post

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

For such a short chapter, there is a lot going on and it jumps around a bit. For this reason, I’m going to focus on some of the main themes. I tried to come up with as many questions as possible to encourage as much participation as possible, so please feel free to skip over anything. Don’t feel compelled to answer everything!

Tolkien’s Writing Style
The first thing I’d like to focus on is how the narrative style of this chapter affects the character of Thingol. This chapter zooms back out, condensing the greatest deeds of Thingol into a few short paragraphs. Similarly, back in Chapter 4, his chapter is only a few pages long. Without jumping too into too many details and spoiling things in the later chapters, compare that to how Thingol’s less than admirable deeds are presented in the “zoomed in” Beren and Luthien chapter. Do these contrasting styles give Thingol a fair treatment?

One quote from the book really caught my eye. “and although they(Sindar) were Moriquendi, under the lordship of Thingol and the teaching of Melian they became the fairest and the most wise and skilful of all the Elves of Middle-earth.” More Tolkien hyperbole. Are the Sindar really outpacing the Vanyar, Noldor, and Teleri in all these aspects? Is it hard to keep track of who is the fairest and greatest and most skilled at what considering how nearly every major character gets described as such at some point in the Silmarillion?

One passage is particularly striking in its breaking from the informative, narrative style. “In Beleriand in those days the Elves walked, and the rivers flowed, and the stars shone, and the night-flowers gave forth their scents; and the beauty of Melian was the noon, and the beauty of Luthien was as the dawn inspring. In Beleriand King Thingol upon his throne was as the lords of the Maiar, whose power is at rest, whose joy is as an air that they breathe in all their days, whose thought flows in a tide untroubled from the heights to the deeps. In Beleriand still at times rode Orome the great, passing like a wind over the mountains, and the sound of the his horn came down the leagues of the starlight, and the Elves feared him for the splendor of his countenance and the great noise of the onrush of Nahar; but when the Valaroma echoed in the hills, they knew well that all evil things were fled far away.” Notice how each of the three sentences in this paragraph begin with In Beleriand. Doesn’t this sound very lyrical or peotic, almost like a mini-Lay?

The quote above also mentions Nahar and the Valaroma, very obsure references that are nonessential to the story itself, yet do have a backstory earlier in the text. Do these obscure references pique your desire for knowledge or annoy you because you can’t remember what Tolkien is talking about? The Silmarillion was released in 1977, long before references websites such as Wikipedia, Tolkien Gateway, or Encyclopedia of Arda became available at our fingertips. How does modern technology, something Tolkien wasn’t always a fan of, make reading his stories easier in these situations?

Dwarves
Despite being a chapter named after Elves, we get quite a few glimpses into the Dwarves of Beleriand, as well. One thing that caught my eye was their stated Friendship with Eol & Maeglin. Dwarves are traditionally, but not always, seen as sketchy characters throughout literature. Does Tolkien take advantage of this stereotype to provide a bit of foreshadowing about the future of Eol and Maeglin?

Within Tolkien’s own writings, Dwarves are often depicted as greedy, however we learn in this chapter the Dwarves of the First Age preferred iron and copper over silver and gold. We are also given a tiny nugget about Dwarves of the later ages growing weary of the world. We read many references about the diminishing of Elves and Men. Is the Dwarves’ preference to iron and copper a nod to the ideals of the undiminished Dwarves?

We are told about the dwarves aversion to sharing their language and true names, yet we also learn of their generosity in helping the Sindar build many things. Why are Dwarves so secretive with their language, yet freely share their craft? You’d think the latter would have been a more valuable commodity, hence guarded more closely.

In payment for their aid in the building of Menegroth, Thingol gives the dwarves many pearls, the greatest of these being Nimphelos, which the chieftain of the dwarves of Belegost prized above a mountain of wealth. Remind anyone else of another dwarvish treasure? If they so cherished the great pearl, why do Dwarves hate the Sea so much?

We are told that Dwarvish clans killed one another. The Elven Kinslayings are portrayed as horrific tragedies, yet Dwarvish kinslayings get a one sentence mention. Is there a double standard for the two races or is this just a matter of the Sil supposedly being an Elvish retelling?

Sindar
One of the most important events takes place in this chapter, the birth of Luthien. Her mere presence seems to enrich Middle Earth, as upon her birth, we’re told niphredil bloomed for the first time. Does this support the argument that the Valar erred in bringing the Eldar to Aman?

The Elves and Dwarves work together to build Thingol’s great dwelling of Menegroth, described as the fairest dwelling east of the Sea. Was it really fairer than Gondolin or is this just another instance of hyperbole getting the best of Tolkien? We also learn that Melian had many Valinorean images carved into the walls of Menegroth, in a sense bringing the beauty of Valinor to Middle Earth. How does this compare to the Valar’s refusal to share the light of the Two Trees with Middle Earth? Also carven into the walls of Menegroth are the images of many trees. Did this have an influence on lords of Doriath, such as Celeborn and Thranduil, establishing woodland realms of their own in later ages?

Because of the friendship of the Dwarves and the Sindar, Beleriand has peace, but slowly Morgoth’s servants begin returning, including orcs, of whom the text states: “Whence they came, or what they were, the Elves knew not then, thinking them perhaps to be Avari who had become evil and savage in the wild; in which they guessed all too near, it is said.” Does this support the argument that orcs are of Elvish origin?

Because of all the evil creatures returning to Beleriand, Thingol calls on the Dwarves to arm his people. Tolkien goes out of his way to point out why the Sindar needed weapons. Are we supposed to be contrasting this to the Noldor crafting weapons in the bliss of Valinor?

Unforeseen, the Nandor show up after their brief pit stop along the Anduin. We are told some dwelt at the mouths of the Anduin. Is this a reference to the Elvish strain that supposedly inhabits the lords of Dol Amroth, which we learn about in ROTK?

Daeron the Minstrel, chief loremaster of Doriath, devises his runes, yet this accomplishment is paid little heed by the Sindar, but not by the Dwarves. As Moriquendi, they’ve seen firsthand that immortal does not mean undying. Why don’t the Sindar see the value in recording their history?

First Battle
Morgoth and Ungoliant return to Middle Earth, have their spat, and scare the crap out of Beleriand. Ungoliant flees south, but does not enter into Thingol’s kingdom by the power of Melian. Considering how Ungoliant is fresh off making Morgoth scream in echoing terror, that’s pretty impressive. We’re also told Melian possessed the foresight to sense the upcoming trouble and the end of the noontide. So, why couldn’t the Valar?

Morgoth returns to Angband, rallies the troops and sends orcs to plunder Beleriand. Cirdan is cut off at Eglarest, but with the help of Denethor and the Nandor, the orcs are defeated in eastern Beleriand. Denethor is killed in the battle, however, so filled with grief, many of the Green-elves return to Ossiriand and never come forth in war again. Still some join Thingol and are merged. For a high and mighty race, these Elves are constantly sundering from one another. Is there a lesson to be learned or did Tolkien simply like creating new names for them?

Cirdan’s western army is besieged and defeated. Melian sets her Girdle. “Melian put forth her power and fenced all that dominion round about with an unseen wall of shadow and bewinderment: the Girdle of Melian, that none thereafter could pass against her will or the will of King Thingol, unless one should come with a power greater than that of Melian the Maia. Are you satisfied with the mechanics of the Girdle of Melian? If Melian, a maia of lesser stature than the Valar, is able to set her Girdle, why didn’t one of the Valar do the same to Valinor?

So ended the first battle of the wars of Beleriand. Tolkien ever the great linguist, chose an exquisitely eloquent name for this important event: Dagor-nuin-Gilia…nope that wasn’t it; Dagor Aglar…not that either; Dagor Bragolla…try again; Nirnaeth Arnoedia…strike four. Oh that’s right, he called it the First Battle of Beleriand. I guess only battles that involve the Noldor get fancy names. Thoughts?

One more thing I’d like to discuss. In the Silmarillion, Feanor lands at the Firth of Drengist and burns the ships at Losgar. End of chapter. Not so fast. In the Shibboleth of Feanor, found in the Peoples of Middle Earth, Amras, one of Feanor’s youngest sons, is shocked by his father’s deeds and plans to return to his mother in Valinor with one of the ships. Feanor, aware of the dissension, orders the ships to be burned, only to later discover his son was aboard at the time, the first Feanorian victim of the Oath. Given that Amras has such an anonymous identity throughout the rest of the Sil, wouldn't his death in the above fashion enhanced not only his character, but also the story of the Noldor? Which version do you prefer?

As three great Jewels they were in form. But not until the End, when Fëanor shall return who perished ere the Sun was made, and sits now in the Halls of Awaiting and comes no more among his kin; not until the Sun passes and the Moon falls, shall it be known of what substance they were made. Like the crystal of diamonds it appeared, and yet was more strong than adamant, so that no violence could mar it or break it within the Kingdom of Arda.

(This post was edited by Finwe on Apr 22 2013, 2:24pm)

Subject User Time
Silmarillion Discussion Chapter 10: Of the Sindar Finwe Send a private message to Finwe Apr 22 2013, 2:19pm
    More questions: Racist Elves (?) powerful Melian, and unexpected timelines noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Apr 22 2013, 3:15pm
        Denethor CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Apr 22 2013, 4:58pm
        Interesting questions Finwe Send a private message to Finwe Apr 22 2013, 5:46pm
        Brief answers sador Send a private message to sador May 1 2013, 9:07pm
    maciliel-thoughts Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Apr 23 2013, 1:30am
        just thought of something Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Apr 23 2013, 1:39am
    Meanwhile, what are the country cousins up to? CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Apr 23 2013, 1:53am
        General Thingol Finwe Send a private message to Finwe Apr 24 2013, 1:19pm
    more on melian Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Apr 23 2013, 11:00am
        Melian the Mother... elaen32 Send a private message to elaen32 Apr 23 2013, 10:58pm
            how do you solve a problem like melian? Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Apr 24 2013, 1:37am
                Thanks Maciliel elaen32 Send a private message to elaen32 Apr 24 2013, 6:11am
        Maybe Melian just really, really likes tall guys? // Finwe Send a private message to Finwe Apr 24 2013, 1:22pm
        Love to see these Melian opinions Finwe Send a private message to Finwe Apr 24 2013, 1:47pm
            Mini Valinor? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Apr 24 2013, 2:22pm
            Ditto on Melian CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Apr 24 2013, 4:17pm
    back at the ranch, things are happening telain Send a private message to telain Apr 23 2013, 2:39pm
        Early Elves and Dwarves Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Apr 24 2013, 2:51am
            I often forget telain Send a private message to telain Apr 24 2013, 2:47pm
                Elf POV and retrofitting Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Apr 24 2013, 4:19pm
                    Well, do orcs wear girdles, and do they take them off at night? Now I want to know. // CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Apr 24 2013, 4:36pm
                        "There are NO worse things than Orcs in the deep places of Victoria's Secret...Trust me!!" Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Apr 24 2013, 8:26pm
                        "removal of girdle" is the real reason they can only travel at night, actually// telain Send a private message to telain Apr 24 2013, 9:26pm
                    oh, good examples telain Send a private message to telain Apr 24 2013, 9:35pm
                The style of elf history Erúmer Send a private message to Erúmer Apr 25 2013, 11:58am
    For a short chapter, there's an awful lot in there!! elaen32 Send a private message to elaen32 Apr 23 2013, 10:23pm
        I love your point on Dwarven Craft Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Apr 23 2013, 10:36pm
            Thank you Brethil elaen32 Send a private message to elaen32 Apr 24 2013, 6:36am
                Secrecy of Aule... Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Apr 24 2013, 2:06pm
            Dwarves and language CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Apr 25 2013, 1:29pm
                Dwarves and hoarding all manner of things Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Apr 25 2013, 2:49pm
                    Dwarves and hobbits CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Apr 25 2013, 3:45pm
                        Tough DNA Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Apr 25 2013, 5:30pm
                            reinjecting these thoughts on dwarves from upthread Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Apr 25 2013, 9:42pm
                                Dwarves, Elves, and Owlies, and mortality CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Apr 25 2013, 10:14pm
                                    well.. Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Apr 25 2013, 10:22pm
                                    Elves and Dwarves: mortality and afterlife Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Apr 25 2013, 11:54pm
                        I like the idea of hobbits as the inverse of dwarves! elaen32 Send a private message to elaen32 Apr 25 2013, 8:42pm
    Thum Thoughts on Thingol (oops, lisping a bit..) Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Apr 23 2013, 10:32pm
        My guess on Thingol's retreat CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Apr 23 2013, 11:06pm
            So true - I can go both ways with the retreat Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Apr 23 2013, 11:25pm
            or at least a sock Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Apr 24 2013, 12:55am
                Melian's bottom drawer noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Apr 24 2013, 6:41am
                    Girdle Finwe Send a private message to Finwe Apr 24 2013, 1:33pm
                        Maybe "girlide" is the material from which Melian's made it :) // noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Apr 24 2013, 2:09pm
    re luthien as evidence that the valar erred Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Apr 24 2013, 1:50am
    Niphredil Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Apr 24 2013, 2:30am
        great catch, ardamire! Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Apr 24 2013, 2:31am
            Thanks, Maciliel! Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Apr 24 2013, 2:33am
                Beautiful point with deep meaning Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Apr 24 2013, 2:40am
                    Niphredil as stars Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Apr 24 2013, 2:51am
                        That is a beautiful idea... elaen32 Send a private message to elaen32 Apr 24 2013, 3:25pm
                            Galadriel & elanor Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Apr 24 2013, 8:33pm
                    Definitely intentional Finwe Send a private message to Finwe Apr 24 2013, 1:35pm
                i do Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Apr 24 2013, 2:42am
                    I actually think that too Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Apr 24 2013, 2:54am
                        for a few weeks Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Apr 24 2013, 2:58am
                            Beautiful Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Apr 24 2013, 3:09am
                                very much my pleasure : ) Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Apr 24 2013, 3:17am
                                    If you ever see it again Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Apr 24 2013, 4:06am
                                        ha! : ) Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Apr 24 2013, 4:09am
                                            I'll be waiting! // Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Apr 24 2013, 4:11am
                        Here is the line Ardamire - so lovely.... Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Apr 24 2013, 3:09am
                            Wonderful! Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Apr 24 2013, 3:15am
                                You are so welcome! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Apr 24 2013, 3:30am
                                    No problem! Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Apr 24 2013, 4:07am
                I'm guessing intended, though it got past everybody. Thanks for pointing it out! // CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Apr 24 2013, 4:14pm
        Arwen & Luthien Finwe Send a private message to Finwe Apr 24 2013, 1:15pm
    Late answers - part 1 sador Send a private message to sador Apr 25 2013, 4:30pm
        the practicality of Dwarves and craftiness of oysters telain Send a private message to telain Apr 25 2013, 9:42pm
            Progressions and pearls CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Apr 25 2013, 10:02pm
                the music in the sea Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Apr 25 2013, 10:12pm
                    Ah, great point about pearls' rarity CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Apr 25 2013, 10:15pm
                    Exactly my thoughts about Pearls too Maciliel Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Apr 25 2013, 11:49pm
    Late answers - part 2 sador Send a private message to sador Apr 28 2013, 1:58pm
    Just to say, Discussion of Chapter 11 has started! noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme May 2 2013, 12:17pm

 
 
 

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