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Of the Coming of Men into the West: sources and resources.
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sador
Half-elven


Jun 9 2013, 7:00am

Post #1 of 26 (373 views)
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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)


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jun 9 2013, 2:20pm

Post #2 of 26 (186 views)
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Orcs and men as evil goons [In reply to] Can't Post

I think it's entirely plausible that, as you suggest, Morgoth thought Men* of little account during this period. Either that or his corrupt-the-Men project was going on to the East, and he wanted to let that run for a bit.

I think Tolkien continues to be in a tangle about what orcs are like. Sometimes he wants them to be fairly stupid, lazy, cruel killing machines. Sometimes he makes them quite human. Certainly some of them can be given responsible military commands (as you mention). I'll add Udlúk (leader of the Uruk hai party which capture Pippin and Merry) to that list. His troop has espirit de corps and discipline, as do the Uruks at Helms Deep. Grishnákh, Sauron's observer or agent with the hobbit-capturing party is also wily, trying to manoeuvre politically, and he also seems to have been briefed about the Ring.

And yet were told its "no Orc-chief or brigand" who is in command of the assault on Minas Tririth. Well at least not until a brave and pretty young Man (but no man) kills the witch king.

I do wonder whether this is just a Tolkien inconsistency here?

No Rings for the Orcs, I've just realised - a silly idea because Rings are corrupting & orcs are corrupt already? Or not powerful enough to bother equipping this way?

I'm also noting that the anti-Orc comments come from Aragorn or from the hobbits: maybe other races under-estimate the lowly Orc

I'm also thinking that Saruman was pretty new at this Orc business: maybe he found his existing door wardens willing to go along with his fall into evil & its just that they kept their jobs?

* I don't personally feel all that comfortable with using Men as an indicator of that species/race (because about half the Men are men, and the other half are women). I've been trying to hedge round it by writing Edain but that ought to apply only to specific tribes. So I'll use capital M Men for the race, as Tolkien does. But I won't enjoy it.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


CuriousG
Valinor


Jun 9 2013, 3:20pm

Post #3 of 26 (174 views)
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Thanks for leading this chapter, Sador!

Public Safety: I do find it remarkable that Finrod, a king, can safely wander on his own in Beleriand. He's not the reckless type, and he seems to feel quite at ease. This shows what a happy place Beleriand is, except that a little while later, Morgoth is able to send an army of Orcs in to nearly exterminate the People of Haleth before any of the Elves notices. Couldn't there be individual Orcs milling about Beleriand before the breaking of the Siege, looking to make mischief? Or does it reinforce Beleriand as the Promised Land that the Men were seeking?

Are Men the heralds of doom for Elves?
Sadly, yes, they seem to be. As a reader, I'd like to see more about what Men do in Beleriand while it's in its prime: more picnics at Ivrin, build a city or two, have some insightful dreams from Ulmo that inspire them to do something. Instead they arrive, and 10 pages later Beleriand is ruined. (Ruined by that Man, noWizardme, or so Ulmo warns me.) There's their physical arrival that seems the fulfillment of the rising of the Sun, which predicted the decline of the Elves. The Elves don't seem to make this connection, however, and are like the Valar greeting the Elves: the superior race is just so dang happy to meet the inferior, newer one, and invite them to live among themselves and find them fascinating and lovable. (It's a good thing the Men never made any holy jewels.)

Why did it take (evil) Men so long to come West?
Have to admit I never thought of this before, but I agree with your conclusion. He underestimated them, the way Sauron underestimated hobbits--they seemed of no account, until he saw what they could do. His dim view of them would seem valid since Men were mortal and comparatively easy to kill. They would seem like hobbits next to Elves, and I wouldn't recruit an army of hobbits to fight for me if I had plenty of Orcs on hand. Or did it take Morgoth awhile to corrupt Men, so he didn't have enough of them wholly committed to him to send to Beleriand right away? Was he using the evil Men to consolidate his hold on eastern Middle-earth, which seems forever in the orbit of evil?

Aragorn states that men and not orcs are the Enemy's most trustworthy servants.
As you and Wiz note, there are Orcs trusted with authority, and if I think of Shagrat, he felt quite responsible for fulfilling his duty to take Frodo's possessions to Barad-dur, and after what had happened under his command at Cirith Ungol, I would think he'd be punished in some way, if not executed, but he was determined to carry out his duty. But maybe that was an individual quality, since Snaga (who hunted Frodo) had no sense of duty. Why are men more trustworthy? Maybe two reasons: Men can be corrupted to evil (Elves never serve Morgoth or Sauron), but Men remain Men. I think of Orcs as almost rabid dogs that will bite anything that comes near them, having loyalty to no one, only hatred, and serving Morgoth, Sauron, and Saruman only out of fear for the first two, and out of a desire to be organized, protected, housed, and fed so that they can do their favorite thing: kill, maim, torture. Men, even the evil ones, have a broader agenda than that and aren't as spiritually degenerate as Orcs.

Could anyone make sense of the contradicting evidence?
I'll stand by my rabid dog analogy as explanation for their actions. Shagrat, Grishnakh, and others were probably exceptions to the rule of self-indulgent sadism. You can find a few leaders in any crowd.

Do you still get this feeling? Or has the insertion of chapters 15 and 16 spolied the effect for you?
Personally, I wish Men had appeared quickly after the Noldor returned so we'd get a better sense of their integration into Beleriand's realms. I think it works as is, because as I read on I get a sense of enormous missed potential, that Men should have been able to enjoy the peace and prosperity of Beleriand for many generations after the long trek there, but that melancholic reaction runs throughout Tolkien's works, so it's consistent.

"The West": I'll admit that on first read, when glancing ahead at chapter titles, I did think that Men reached Valinor. But I think "The West" is used in numerous contexts. When Aragorn marches on Mordor, they're called the Captains of the West, which can't mean solely Numenor since Eomer and his people form a sizable part of the army and leadership. When Denethor says The West has fallen, I think he's speaking more broadly about Elves and Numenoreans.

Looking forward to your next posts!


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jun 9 2013, 3:23pm

Post #4 of 26 (179 views)
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What is "the West"? [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that's a good question. Previously I had though of it as similar to the real-life Cold War usage - "the West" being the coalition of interests which oppose Sauron. It would make sense if Denethor was despairing of their victory.

But;
Perhaps he is thinking more broadly - Valinor was once to the West, and even to Denethor's day, elves trying to get there would set off to the West (then, goodness knows what happens to them). Is he seeing defeat in these more dramatic (and probably blasphemous) terms - that Sauron is about to defeat the supporters of the Valar?

Back to the First Age:

The elves headed west on some instinct and met the Valar. Now some Men are heading west and meeting the Elves. Does it seem like an echo of earlier events? If so, what's going on? Are the virtuous Men sensing distant (and now unattainable) Valinor, and tracking Westwards attracted by its goodness? In Eru's original scheme were they too supposed to meet the Valar, and its only that the Valar have retreated for a few millenia of sulking about ungrateful Children of Iluvitar (or watching Game of Thrones, or whatever), and so don't make the rendezvous?

Is traveling West to be taken symbolically as a kind of journey of enlightenment? (or is that argument a load of symbolics?)

And it's an odd co-incidence (if it's a co-incidence at all) that the arm-wavy "there's more lands over there but they don't come into the story" part of the world is always off to the East. When Beleriand eventually sinks, we all trek off East a bit, but not too far, and have a new story there.

EDIT: Aha - does the Sun rise (or did it rise for the first time) in the West in Arda? I was about to perpetrate soem waffle about Churches having their alters facing the rising sun (or rising Son?) in the East, but maybe West is East for this purpose...

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"

(This post was edited by noWizardme on Jun 9 2013, 3:26pm)


elaen32
Gondor


Jun 9 2013, 4:11pm

Post #5 of 26 (171 views)
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Hooray- at last the Edain are here! [In reply to] Can't Post

 
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?
Well the coming of the Edain heralds the end of the Long Peace etc, but is not the root cause obviously. However, the elves do not seem to realise quite what a bad sign this is and are very welcoming.
Re the nonEdain Men- if they have been corrupted by Morgoth, they would be awaiting his command as to when and where to go. I agree that Morgoth seems to have miscalculated in his underestimation of Men and could have made better use of them against the elves earlier, even just as "cannon fodder". Morgoth only goes to the East once to see what nature of being Men are and is obviously pretty dismissive and doesn't give second chances! I guess he felt that the orcs were more of a known quantity and appeared stronger and more brutal. After the Battle of Bragollach, Morgoth realises his mistake and sets about attacking the Edain so has to put them out of action, whilst planning to bring in the evil Men loyal to Morgoth- reasoning, I suppose, that if the Edain can show courage and loyalty to the Elves and to their own people, the Easterlings etc can also show courage and loyalty- this time to Morgoth.

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?
I suspect that there is some bitterness in Aragorn's statement, that his fellow Men would betray their own kind for personal power. With a few exceptions, the Orcs are less reliable, more likely to fight among themselves and kill valuable soldiers, rather than to devote themselves to Sauron, like Men, such as the Black Numenoreans, Easterlings, Haradrim etc. Such Men may be loyal because of the promise of personal wealth, as well as power. Orcs care less for the finer things in life and are less likely to be swayed by the promises of material goods- not because Orcs are unmaterialistic, but rather because they have baser natures. A Man might like to build a fine palace for him and his family. An orc is not likely to be interested in such things. There were obviously those like Shagrat and Gorbag, who were more intelligent and wily leaders, but even whilst they talk of setting up by themselves, they are thinking more of a brigand's type existence in mountain caves rather than having a castle or palace
* * * Re "the West" I think the answer partly is that this chapter is misnamed and should perhaps be "Of the coming of Men into the West of Middle Earth" The original sounds snappier it is true, but it is less accurate in this context. Maybe it was a publishing issue? Regarding Denethor's statement, I think he is primarily thinking of the Men of the West ie the Numenoreans and their lesser Rohirrim/Beorning/Branding cousins. In the book, he does not know where the elves are to be found- Faramir's dreams of Imladris are a puzzle to them all and he knows nothing of Lothlorien really. He sees the battle with Sauron very much on a personal level, so much so that Gandalf reprimands him for it. Also, in saying "The West" he encompasses the entire history of the struggles of the Numenoreans- "it has come to this" ie failure after the long fight against Suaron.


"Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold"


CuriousG
Valinor


Jun 9 2013, 4:11pm

Post #6 of 26 (170 views)
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Good people go west [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Is traveling West to be taken symbolically as a kind of journey of enlightenment? (or is that argument a load of symbolics?)

I think you're right. You're more advanced and moral if you migrate in a westerly direction. It's true of Elves and Men; the ones who stay in the East are more primitive and vaguely barbaric. The Edain are the best of Men because they're the first to reach the West (Beleriand) and were the most attracted to it. The ones that follow are a mixed bag. And of course the most enlightened places are always in the West (Valinor, Numenor). Stay in the East and it's not only your womenfolk that don't get names, even your countries aren't named and fall off the map, because they've done nothing significant worth naming.


squire
Valinor


Jun 9 2013, 10:34pm

Post #7 of 26 (153 views)
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Interesting people go east [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't have the details at my fingertips, to put it mildly, but I remember that the premise of Verlyn Flieger's classic book of Tolkien criticism, Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World (Kent State U. Press, 2002) was about this subject. I think I mentioned this a little while ago, in the context of Eol, but it seems just as relevant here with the arrival of Men in the West.

Briefly: The races of Elves and then Men did move from east to west, from darkness to light, initially. However, total light is as unenlightening as total darkness is. What brings forth knowledge and wisdom is a mix of light and darkness. That is achieved in varying degrees by the folk who travel west, but stop before they get to Valinor: the Sindarin Elves, the Silvan Elves and other Avari, and the Edain. More importantly, and more central to the plot of the Silmarillion, that is also what happens when those who have already completed the journey reverse their tracks and return to Middle-earth and attempt to struggle with darkness and overcome it rather than simply flee it: the Noldor, and the Numenoreans. Thus the journey East is as important, if not more important, than the journey West for the purposes of the stories being told.



squire online:
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Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
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sador
Half-elven


Jun 10 2013, 8:46am

Post #8 of 26 (130 views)
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I was also thinking along these lines [In reply to] Can't Post




In Reply To


I'm also thinking that Saruman was pretty new at this Orc business


Especially once he had bred the Uruk-hai - he was probably not quite sure how exactly to manage them. They were useful fighters, yes, but when push comes to shove - would they ultimately be unswervingly loyal to him, or would they cross the lines back to Sauron?
As the event shows, Ugluk was intercepted, but not cowed, by Grishnakh; but a traitor is ever wary, and never trusts in his followers' loyalty.

Sauron, on the other hand, fully had the orcs' measure - and knew to trust them (and also the extent of trust he could put in them): you see that he did not fear to let Grishnakh know what he was looking for, and that Shagrat made a supreme effort to get to Barad-dur with the mithril-coat (even as he knew that he would have to report failure in his tenure).

Glancing two chapter ahead, if I may - had Saruman been the warden of Tol Sirion, maybe Beren and Finrod would have managed to deceive him?

'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!


sador
Half-elven


Jun 10 2013, 9:08am

Post #9 of 26 (132 views)
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It's odd, isn't it? [In reply to] Can't Post



In Reply To


Couldn't there be individual Orcs milling about Beleriand before the breaking of the Siege, looking to make mischief? Or does it reinforce Beleriand as the Promised Land that the Men were seeking?



Especially as Finrod's first thought when coming upon Beor and his followers was ascertaining whether they were dwarves or orcs - even a group of orcs was a possibility!

Your suggestion regarding Beleriand as a Promised Land is intriguing! Especially as Beor leaves his camp unguarded. But they were blissfully ignorant; and the question about Finrod's initial thoughts still stands.



In Reply To

The Elves don't seem to make this connection, however, and are like the Valar greeting the Elves: the superior race is just so dang happy to meet the inferior, newer one, and invite them to live among themselves and find them fascinating and lovable.


Wow, that's a neat comparison!
Although I doubt this applies to any but Finrod. Even Fingolfin seems more to care about the strengthening of his realm.




In Reply To

Was he using the evil Men to consolidate his hold on eastern Middle-earth, which seems forever in the orbit of evil?



Maybe. The East is a big white patch on the map, and we have no idea what's going on there - pretty much like to the Europeans of the Middle-ages the Asian steppes were: all of a sudden the hords of Huns, Bulgars, Magyars, Mongols and Turks would burst upon the astonished West, which would ever be concerned what new calamity would be spawned there. Before Marco Polo - who knew what was going on in the Far East? Only Prester John, and being a myth, even he was of little use.

But this leads to another question regarding the East: wasn't it infested by Orcs? I would assume it was. In that case, why didn't Morgoth ever try to attack the Noldor from behind?


'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!


sador
Half-elven


Jun 10 2013, 9:16am

Post #10 of 26 (124 views)
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Yes! [In reply to] Can't Post

In chapter 11:




Quote


Now Varda purposed that the two vessels should journey in Ilmen and
ever be aloft, but not together; each should pass from Valinor into the east and
return, the one issuing from the west as the other turned from the east...

Because of the waywardness of Tilion, therefore, and yet more
because of the prayers of Lórien and Estë, who said that sleep and rest had been banished from the Earth, and the stars were hidden, Varda changed her counsel, and allowed a time wherein the world should still have shadow and half-light. Anar rested therefore a while in Valinor... But soon the Sun was drawn down by the servants of Ulmo, and went then in haste under the Earth, and so came unseen to the east and there mounted the heaven again, lest night be over-long and evil walk under the Moon.




Well remembered!


'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!


sador
Half-elven


Jun 10 2013, 9:29am

Post #11 of 26 (130 views)
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"To the East I go not" [In reply to] Can't Post

So you contend that Gandalf might have been good, but he was uninteresting?

I somehow remember you did that already.

'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!


sador
Half-elven


Jun 10 2013, 9:55am

Post #12 of 26 (120 views)
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Interesting. [In reply to] Can't Post

I was thinking of Men as somewhat like the Sun, of which in chapter 11 is said: "for the Sun was set as a sign for the awakening of Men and the waning of the Elves, but the Moon cherishes their memory", and wondering how these two are connected.

Regarding Men vs. Orcs - I've answered that in my response to nowizme; it seems that I stand in a minority. There is also to be considered the three-tiered hierarchy of Men, as he says in The Window on the West.



'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!


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 10 2013, 7:44pm

Post #13 of 26 (115 views)
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Thanks for this Sador! [In reply to] Can't Post

As I am caught up at work, I will fully review and post tomorrow!!!! Thanks for a great lead-in, in advance!

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jun 10 2013, 7:48pm

Post #14 of 26 (114 views)
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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! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


CuriousG
Valinor


Jun 10 2013, 11:28pm

Post #15 of 26 (123 views)
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Orcs and migrating Men [In reply to] Can't Post

The East seems a dangerous enough place if you consider that the Nandor abandoned it even before Morgoth came back to MEarth. It would only get worse after that. Men would have an advantage new-born Elves did not that, even though Orome didn't show up to guide and teach them, they had Elves and Dwarves to get some guidance from (whether they were friends or not with them, they communicated with them).

I honestly never understand why Morgoth doesn't invade Beleriand from the south either. The Noldor never go east of the Ered Lindon, no one guards the south, and Morgoth was able to invade Hithlum by surprise when his troops went way far north and then turned back south again. Yes, it would be longer to get to southern Beleriand, but it's still possible. Or don't bother going all the way south, just invade Thargelion, since Caranthir didn't catch on every quickly, and the Dwarves didn't seem to notice either. But he's just a dumb Vala and can't think of everything, I suppose, and maybe it was more fun attacking the enemy head-on. He had plenty of surprise without going the southern route in the 4th and 5th battles.


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 11 2013, 8:33pm

Post #16 of 26 (101 views)
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First part of Men, enter Stage Right [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
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.
Isn't it lovely!!! Angelic Great chapter Sador, thank you! Sorry to be a bit tardy to the party.

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. Well its interesting in what it potentially says about Finrod - he is open-minded about the SoF perhaps, in that he will associate with any of them; and yet he is discerning in that he chooses to remain friends with Maehdros who seems to be the best of the bunch. Is his choice to follow the Dwarf-road boldness or as CG suggests a sign of the overall peace at the time?
.
Do you feel so, too? Are Men the heralds of doom for Elves? In a way, yes. They are the intended heirs of Middle Earth in Eru's plan. When they appear its a sign that Middle earth will change - in a long time to the Edain, but probably pretty quickly to the Firstborn. I wonder if that isn't a part of why the Elves begin that embalming way of thinking, trying to preserve ME as it is and thus creating the Rings.
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 think he does consider them negligible, maybe because of their relative frailty and short lives. He may think that they simply won't stay on task for long enough - a problem I think he may have already with the Orcs.

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? I think it is Aragorn's shame speaking here, the shame of Isildur's choice in keeping the Ring. Especially when raised at Rivendell I think Aragorn intensely felt the failure there, so from his point of view it is a literal view, but in real world I think Orcs certainly more consistently serve the Dark Lord. Do particular Men make excellent servants? Absolutely, I think because of how singular they are as oppose to the general mischief of Orcs and (I sense) their more base-centered and self-centered interests (like ignoring a plan and eating a village instead.)

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? I think in any race there are those that stand out. Frodo and Bilbo for example did things not your average Hobbit could do, despite their common good natures with the rest of the Hobytla. So creatures like Shagrat and Gorbag I think are particular to any species, and to have them take command over creatures they know instinctively well, if they stay loyal, is a very useful tool. In Orcish cultures though, like Goblins as well, stand-outs seem to be rather few and far in between as I think they rather regard each other as disposable and individualization is not emphasized or encouraged.
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? I see it as a summation of the forces opposed to Morgoth (though he originated in the West as well). I think the Men of Numenor used it to describe their culture and the entire culture of good-aligned Men after Numenor's colonization and fall (sort of having that be the High Point of their civilization, as it was initially conceived.). So I think the question below relates to that idea excellently...

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? I think in Denethor's mind he is speaking specifically of the Men of Numenor, as he aspires to the old heights of mighty kingship, as he perceives it(skipping over the bad parts, like dusty ancestor worship and their failures as family men, plus that uncomfortable bit (cough cough) about worshipping Sauron....)


Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 11 2013, 8:38pm

Post #17 of 26 (97 views)
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Logistics and dark minions [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I honestly never understand why Morgoth doesn't invade Beleriand from the south either. The Noldor never go east of the Ered Lindon, no one guards the south, and Morgoth was able to invade Hithlum by surprise when his troops went way far north and then turned back south again. Yes, it would be longer to get to southern Beleriand, but it's still possible. Or don't bother going all the way south, just invade Thargelion, since Caranthir didn't catch on every quickly, and the Dwarves didn't seem to notice either. But he's just a dumb Vala and can't think of everything, I suppose, and maybe it was more fun attacking the enemy head-on. He had plenty of surprise without going the southern route in the 4th and 5th battles.




Good question, and I wonder if it was a logistical issue with the minions Morgoth had surrounded himself with. Orcs aren't the brightest or most focused bunch I don't think - and as for Glaurung, Morgoth couldn't even keep him sequestered, he thumbed his nose and took off to mess with the Elves before he was supposed to. So maybe he knew that trying to bring an armed force all the way south and maintain good order was just not going to happen. He might just end up standing there all alone looking foolish as his retinue traipsed all about Beleriand looking for their own particular brand of trouble/fun.

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


CuriousG
Valinor


Jun 11 2013, 8:49pm

Post #18 of 26 (97 views)
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True [In reply to] Can't Post

And once they headed south, those unfocused slackers, if they saw tourist posters for Harad, they'd keep going until they could find some great beaches and have fun in the sun. Why can't Orcs go surfing and play beach volleyball? That's covered at length in the 11th HOME volume, "Orcs Gone Wild."


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 11 2013, 9:03pm

Post #19 of 26 (158 views)
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Orc volleyball [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
And once they headed south, those unfocused slackers, if they saw tourist posters for Harad, they'd keep going until they could find some great beaches and have fun in the sun. Why can't Orcs go surfing and play beach volleyball? That's covered at length in the 11th HOME volume, "Orcs Gone Wild."




All you need is a net, grog, SPF 700 sunscreen and some severed Dwarf heads to use as volleyballs. Cool

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


telain
Rohan

Jun 12 2013, 1:03am

Post #20 of 26 (88 views)
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a response to 2 posts starts here... [In reply to] Can't Post

Love this...


Quote
Stay in the East and it's not only your womenfolk that don't get names, even your countries aren't named and fall off the map, because they've done nothing significant worth naming.


..especially the fall off the map part.

Is travelling West a seeking of enlightenment and knowledge? As in trying to find out where the Sun goes when it sets, discovering new lands (since going West in this context is exploration for both Elves and Edain.) Whereas... and now you'll have to go to my response to squire to get the rest of this answer...


telain
Rohan

Jun 12 2013, 1:13am

Post #21 of 26 (89 views)
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...and ends here [In reply to] Can't Post

... people who travel East have already explored and learned something about the world and are now taking said knowledge back to those who may or may not have it? Here I am thinking not only of the Valar and the Noldor, but also of a couple of Maiar... disguised as old men...

and CuriousG's point about not getting names if you are in the East, how about "the Blue Wizards?"

So in response to both of you (and noWizardme!), I am rather intrigued by the symbolism of the travelling...


Elizabeth
Valinor


Jun 12 2013, 4:00am

Post #22 of 26 (95 views)
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But he is *from* The West. [In reply to] Can't Post

To get to ME to perform his mission he had to go East. I think that's squire's point.








FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 12 2013, 2:35pm

Post #23 of 26 (80 views)
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Does it reflect real-world patterns? [In reply to] Can't Post

If we consider that the Silmarillion is a set of myths about our world, then perhaps it's not surprising that new peoples come out of the east and travel west - from the perspective of people in the "north-west of Middle-earth", new groups of immigrants or invaders have always arrived that way. The myths of northern Europe all look west, as the people come to the "end of the line" when they reach Scandinavia or the British Isles. The people who built Stonehenge, or the great passage tombs in Ireland, thousands of years ago are a complete mystery to us now, but like the Elves they were eventually displaced by newer arrivals in the British Isles. (And legends seem to suggest that the older civilizations left, taking their knowledge with them, over the sea - although that's surely pure legend, to try to explain where the builders of those huge, mysterious, astronomically-accurate structures might have gone...).

Then, if you fast forward a couple of thousand years, you have the Romans who brought peace and prosperity to northern Europe, before eventually being forced to withdraw by new invaders from the east. I see Gondor as very much modelled after this period of history, and Denethor's "the West has failed" as an echo of the barbarians at the gates of Rome.

So my point (if I have one Tongue) seems to be that the West and the East in Tolkien's legendarium seem to have a lot in common with how they were experienced and perceived in the early history of our own world.

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



CuriousG
Valinor


Jun 12 2013, 4:33pm

Post #24 of 26 (77 views)
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Probably not intended, but [In reply to] Can't Post

Since I'm thinking about the Irish today, and you mention the real-world flux of people going east to west in Europe, I remembered that Irish monks played a significant role in reviving monasteries in Western Europe during the Dark/Middle Ages, hence bringing civilization from the western extremity of Europe back east to the people in the darkened continent.

I doubt Tolkien had this in mind when he had the Noldor come back to Beleriand, so it's more coincidence than anything that it fits his migrations. Just one of those observations I make at work at lunch time.


squire
Valinor


Jun 12 2013, 6:25pm

Post #25 of 26 (80 views)
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It feels intended to me [In reply to] Can't Post

I can't find anything in the Letters just now, but I'd readily speculate that Tolkien certainly did see the Christian missions from England and Ireland to the continent as models for his Elvish (and later, Numenorean) "returns" to the Great Lands from further West.



squire online:
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