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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Of the Coming of Men into the West: sources and resources.

sador
Valinor


Jun 9 2013, 7:00am


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Of the Coming of Men into the West: sources and resources. Can't Post

I'm sorry to intrude, just as last week's discussion approaches the 400-replies mark. Wow!
As a member of an "older" generation (funny how perceptions change… five years ago I was looking up at my seniors which had participated in the old boards' discussions), I can only say how impressed I am by this outburst of zeal, interest and loquaciousness.

* * *




Quote

When three hundred years and more were gone since the Noldor came to Beleriand, in the days of the Long Peace, Finrod Felagund lord of Nargothrond journeyed east of Sirion and went hunting with Maglor and Maedhros, sons of Fëanor. But he wearied of the chase and passed on alone towards the mountains of Ered Lindon that he saw shining afar; and taking the Dwarf-road he crossed Gelion at the ford of Sarn Athrad, and turning south over the upper streams of Ascar, he came into the north of Ossiriand.



I won't dissect paragraphs minutely, as this seems to be less in the style of this Silmarillion discussion. So I'll ignore Finrod's interesting friendship with the sons of Fëanor, whether it was safe to wander alone (after what happened to his cousin in the previous chapter), and the Dwarf-road.
Unless you have something to say about them, of course.

What I do want to ask about is the three hundred years of the Long Peace: it appears that the coming of Men into the West actually heralded the doom of the Noldor – the Siege of Angband will endure of only another century.
Do you feel so, too? Are Men the heralds of doom for Elves?
Why did it take Men so long to come West – not the Edain, but why didn't Morgoth (who was said in Of Men to have deemed the matter of great importance, so that he left Angband just once to inspect them) brings his minions to Beleriand earlier? Could he use them to overturn the Siege of Angband? Or did he simply consider Men of no consequence, to be corrupted to spite the Valar, but relatively worthless even as cannon-fodder for his War?

I like the last idea: possibly only after the Bragollach, and the deeds of Hador and Barahir which saved the Elven armies of the Northwest and South, Morgoth bothered with Men, and decided it worth his while to summon them to him.
But if so - well, in The Riders of Rohan, Aragorn states that men and not orcs are the Enemy's most trustworthy servants.
How did this turnabout happen? Did Men prove themselves so well? Or did all the "good" orcs perish in the wars of old? Or is it just Aragorn's prejudice?

The gate-keepers of Saruman were indeed men (Flotsam and Jetsam), but Sauron gave Shagrat a really important command, and presumably Gorbag is nearly his equal. Also consider the respective reactions of the orcs and men to Sauron's fall, in The Field of Cormallen.
Could anyone make sense of the contradicting evidence?

* * *



Welcome to this week's discussion of Of the Coming of Men into the West! It is one of the chapters which affords (relatively) little drama, but (as said above) heralds the momentous events of the later chapters.
In the previous round of discussing The Silmarillion, I have followed the method first used (to the best of my knowledge) by squire, of dividing each thread in two: the first part, Story Time, in which the actual events told in this chapter are discussed; and a second, Text and Tradition, which is about the construction of it.
This is an opening thread – three more will follow, hopefully tomorrow, on Tuesday and on Thursday. Feel free to ignore some or most of the questions, and to add any of your own!
As I beagn reading towards this discussion, my sense of its importance grew; however, this can only be demonstrated by discussing it in the context of Tolkien's drafts and unpublished writing, as published by Christopher Tolkien in the twelve volume of The History of Middle-earth. These discussions will be in the second part of the three coming threads. I will try to sum up the facts (to the best of my ability) of each topic before discussing it; hopefully it will make sense.

For your reference – this chapter was discussed three times before. I have only been at the third, and haven't had time to look at the previous ones. But in case you are interested – links to the first discussion, which was led by Idril Celebrindal in November 2001 can be found here; to the second, led by eowyn_rohan in October 2004 are here and here; and the third, led by Elizabeth, can be found here.

The concept of this chapter is a rather late one: as late as the 1926 Sketch of the Mythology, the Noldor simply met Men when they first came to Middle-earth. In the 1930 Quenta Noldorinwa (HoME IV, p. 104) the story of Felagund and his meeting with Bëor first appeared, and was tucked into one chapter covering all the history of the Siege of Angband, up to the fall of Fingolfin. In the 1937 Quenta Silmarillion (published in HoME V), this already merited a chapter of its own (called Of Men and Dwarves, as it included the coming of dwarves as well); following Of Beleriand and its Realms, which summed up the settling of the Noldor and the siege of Angband, the coming of Men heralded their decline and defeat.
Do you still get this feeling? Or has the insertion of chapters 15 and 16 spolied the effect for you?

This chapter is based upon the corresponding chapter in Tolkien's latest attempt to rewrite the Quenta Silmarillion in the early 1950s. To the part about the dwarves, just minor corrections were made, which reflected Tolkien's the idea that Dwarves came into Beleriand even before the Noldor (see chapter 10, of the Sindar), which made the creation-story regarding them a bit out of place; this have induced Christopher Tolkien to move it to the beginning of the book (chapter 2, of Aulë and Yavanna).
However, the part about Men grew, changing its chronology but adding two (or three) completely new stories. In fact, it signalled the end of the re-write of the Quenta Silmarillion, like The Wanderings of Húrin ended the re-write of The Grey Annals; Tolkien did make some corrections to the next chapter, but something in this chapter captured his imagination, and he turned to writing the Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth, a discussion of which which Voronwë the Faithful led, following it by another discussion of an appendix to the Athrabeth, the_Tale_of_Adanel.
It appears that this chapter became very important, even pivotal, to Tolkien, and that this importance is reflected in the Athrabeth; therefore we will refer to it in this discussion. Any who haven't read it in Morgoth's Ring are recommended to – not for this discussion, for which Voronwë's summaries in his posts are sufficient, but because it is a fascinating reading!

* * *



My last question is about the chapter's name: Of the Coming of Men into the West.
Throughout The Silmarillion, the epithet "the West" is given to the land of Aman. In fact, the first time it appears in the book is referring to Belegaer, the Great Sea in the West, and then to "The Eagles of the Lords of the West" (Of Aulë and Yavanna; admittedly, this foreshadowing of the Fall of Númenor is based upon a late text).
But here – "the West" clearly means "west of the Blue Mountains"; in fact, in Unfinished Tales (page 25), it is stated that Tuor was the first Man to ever reach the shores of the Great Sea! In the published Silmarillion, this statement was omitted.
I won't ask about this omission – after all, it belongs to a future chapter! But I must ask:
What does this inconsistency of use reflect? Or is it just a mistake?

And a bonus question:
In The Pyre of Denethor, before commiting suicide the crazed Steward says: "The West has failed".
What does he mean? Who has failed? The Valar? Númenor? Or the whole enterprise of Men going westward, in a futile search for the light?




'But my father loves them,' said Túrin, 'and he is not happy without them. He says that we have learned all that we know from them, and have been made a nobler people; and he says that the Men that have lately come over the Mountains are little better than Orcs.'
'That is true,' answered Sador; 'true at least of some of us. But the up-climbing is painful, and from high places it is easy to fall low.'

Who was right?
Join us in the Reading Room, for the discussion of Of the Coming of Men into the West, beginning on June 9!

(This post was edited by sador on Jun 9 2013, 7:01am)

Subject User Time
Of the Coming of Men into the West: sources and resources. sador Send a private message to sador Jun 9 2013, 7:00am
    Orcs and men as evil goons noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jun 9 2013, 2:20pm
        I was also thinking along these lines sador Send a private message to sador Jun 10 2013, 8:46am
    Of happy Beleriand CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jun 9 2013, 3:20pm
        It's odd, isn't it? sador Send a private message to sador Jun 10 2013, 9:08am
            There's a related unanswered question: Why the elves don't explore east over the mountain border of Beleriand, in order to see any advancing horde coming! // noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jun 10 2013, 7:48pm
            Orcs and migrating Men CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jun 10 2013, 11:28pm
                Logistics and dark minions Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jun 11 2013, 8:38pm
                    True CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jun 11 2013, 8:49pm
                        Orc volleyball Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jun 11 2013, 9:03pm
    What is "the West"? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jun 9 2013, 3:23pm
        Good people go west CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jun 9 2013, 4:11pm
            Interesting people go east squire Send a private message to squire Jun 9 2013, 10:34pm
                "To the East I go not" sador Send a private message to sador Jun 10 2013, 9:29am
                    But he is *from* The West. Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Jun 12 2013, 4:00am
                ...and ends here telain Send a private message to telain Jun 12 2013, 1:13am
            a response to 2 posts starts here... telain Send a private message to telain Jun 12 2013, 1:03am
        Yes! sador Send a private message to sador Jun 10 2013, 9:16am
        Does it reflect real-world patterns? FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Jun 12 2013, 2:35pm
            Probably not intended, but CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jun 12 2013, 4:33pm
                It feels intended to me squire Send a private message to squire Jun 12 2013, 6:25pm
    Hooray- at last the Edain are here! elaen32 Send a private message to elaen32 Jun 9 2013, 4:11pm
        Interesting. sador Send a private message to sador Jun 10 2013, 9:55am
    Thanks for this Sador! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jun 10 2013, 7:44pm
    First part of Men, enter Stage Right Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jun 11 2013, 8:33pm
    My responses. sador Send a private message to sador Jun 16 2013, 1:33pm

 
 
 

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