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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Silmarillion Discussion 2013, Chapter 18: Of The Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin
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Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Jun 17 2013, 2:31am

Post #26 of 97 (163 views)
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thank-eee [In reply to] Can't Post

 
as my old gaffer would say, thank-eee, mistress brethil.


cheers : )

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


squire
Valinor


Jun 17 2013, 2:47am

Post #27 of 97 (185 views)
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"Modern generals never fight now" [In reply to] Can't Post

I never know what to say when today's generals are criticized, whether implicitly or explicitly, for not risking their lives on the front line or in combat zones. The best single answer is that at some point in military history, the generals who stayed in the rear and commanded from a distance began to win battles against other armies led heroically from the front by charismatic champions. In other words, leading from behind works in modern conditions, and leading from the front doesn't.

In World War I in particular, the generals acquired a bad reputation, not so much for not going over the top, as for not really putting themselves in their men's places when considering the conditions and tactics of long-term strategic siege warfare. A fine French dinner with ones staff in a lavish chateau contrasted poorly with cold hash eaten in the rain in a muddy trench under shellfire. But even in that war, and certainly in more recent ones, different generals have shown a wide range of abilities for empathizing with the field troops and gaining their loyalty by leading through example and through experience, if not through a facility with small arms.

I agree that "self-defense" seems to excuse warfare, but the term defeated itself as soon as everyone realized that societies mobilize better when told they are "defending" the nation. If I remember, we in the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2013 to defend ourselves from a future attack with 'weapons of mass destruction'; Japan attacked Pearl Harbor to defend the Empire from being sucked dry by Western sanctions; etc., etc.

As noted already, Tolkien exhibits a fundamental ambiguity about war, but not quite along the same lines as you. I don't think he gives a hoot about strategy, as such, with its emphasis on logistics, numbers, and economics. I think he admired the heroism and self-sacrifice that war brings out in many soldiers, but he hated the waste and futility that is inherent in a soldier's death. Of course, one soldier's heroism often equals the other soldier's death. To avoid getting trapped into writing heroic myths in a relativistic world, he (as you note) invented anonymous, inhuman, or even non-human enemies against which his heroes' heroism can be tested.

That's become a characteristic of modern fantasy. I think in a way that's one of the reasons that fantasy as a genre is not always respected by readers and critics who have acquired for better or worse a more relativistic perspective on modern warfare and, by extension, even ancient warfare. I recently read a book explaining that the Mongols and the Huns were misunderstood, were oppressed by the surrounding civilizations of China, India, and the West - and were, in fact, just defending themselves when they slaughtered entire cities and laid waste to 'civilization', retaliating for the same crimes previously committed against their cities and their peoples. Huh, I thought. Once again, everything I was taught in school is wrong.



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noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jun 17 2013, 11:47am

Post #28 of 97 (169 views)
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"He uses others as his weapons" [In reply to] Can't Post

 Tolkien gives Denethor ( the LOTR one!) some lines that hint at the frustration of being a non-combatant general:

Quote
[Sauron will not come in person] save only to triumph over me when all is won. He uses others as his weapons. So do all great lords, if they are wise, Master Halfling. Or why should I sit here in my tower and think, and watch, and wait, spending even my sons? For I can still wield a brand.


I don't think the idea is that Denethor sits in his tower because he's too old or too cowardly personally to lead the troops. Non-combatant generals seem almost inevitable as warfare becomes larger-scale, and about some cause other than the general himself (or herself). The practical issues include that;
  • The general must attend to the whole battle situation, which he or she can't do whilst occupied by personally fighting.
  • The general needs to be easily found for messages.
  • As communications improved, the General no longer needed to be able personally to see the field (and that became impossible anyway once operations began to take place over too wide an area to be seen from one vantage point).
Over time, Generals became professional leaders of their armies, rather than themselves being the cause their troops fought for. At the Battle of Bosworth (England, 1485), King Richard III attempted personally to attack the rival general, Henry Tudor. This still made sense (though it was a final desperate throw as the battle turned against Richard) - Richard and Henry were rival claimants to the throne, and the death of either of them would therefore settle the matter, because you couldn't be a claimant to the throne if you were dead. So, when Richard was killed, the battle was immediately won by the Tudors. By contrast, killing Rommel or Wellington or Robert E Lee in later wars would be a blow to their army, but would not only end the war if their enemy could make other gains immediately - their side would send another general.

So for all those reasons, the operations centre became the only responsible place for the General to be. On another of the subthreads here, we're not sure whether to be impressed or not by Fingolfin behaving more like a champion and less like a king.

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

"nowimŽ 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 17 2013, 12:13pm

Post #29 of 97 (160 views)
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England has such picky, arcane rules for kingship [In reply to] Can't Post


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because you couldn't be a claimant to the throne if you were dead.




CuriousG
Valinor


Jun 17 2013, 12:18pm

Post #30 of 97 (159 views)
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Another reason for "safe" generals [In reply to] Can't Post

is that generals are supposed to be big-picture people, talented tacticians, and brilliant strategists. Those people don't walk out of the woods everyday, so you need to protect them as assets. So it makes sense to keep them protected in the reserve. Also, if they were fighting in the thick of things, they would be naturally distracted from conducting the battle/war as a whole, so they could win the field but lose the war.

But from what I've read, soldiers in the past expected a general to fight with them or they wouldn't be inclined to follow him. A general had to prove himself worthy of his troops to some degree. In modern warfare, you're trained to be patriotic and obedient and follow whatever general you're assigned to follow. Modern troops also don't proclaim their generals emperors or willingly instigate and participate in civil wars to make sure their man gets the throne. The psychology of war has changed profoundly.


CuriousG
Valinor


Jun 17 2013, 12:38pm

Post #31 of 97 (160 views)
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Yes, it's amazing how aggressive the US "Department of Defense" can be. [In reply to] Can't Post

It was more honest to call it the Department of War as it was in the past. Americans aren't alone in pretending every war is defensive; it's in vogue around the world. On the one hand I think it's a sign of moral progress for civilization to no longer overtly say that war is a good way to gain slaves and riches and land from other countries, but it seems to breed some dishonesty to pretend that offensive actions are really undertaken to keep folks safe at home.

As for dehumanizing the opposition, I've attended small conferences in the past where WWII and Vietnam veterans and more recent Iraq War veterans all agreed that it was important for their own rationalization in combat to come up with racist and derogatory names about the other side to help themselves justify that they were fighting people who were inferior, uncivilized human beings and prone to evil. Empathy with the enemy wasn't something they could afford in a combat situation.

I don't want to get preachy about it or start a debate on modern warfare which could easily turn into an internet flame war, I'm aiming more to contrast modern war thinking with that in The Silmarillion. The Noldor were fighting in Beleriand to get booty (the Silmarils) and land, though not slaves. Morgoth wanted all of the above. There was also the common assumption that war brought personal glory, so it was good for that reason too.

The Sindar realms seem more pacifist and genuinely defensive compared to the Noldor. Or maybe one could say less ambitious. Maybe their goal should have been to rid the world of Morgoth and Orcs and make it a safer place. Or maybe they were better at calculating the odds and realized they didn't have the numbers, war materials, or know-how to dislodge Morgoth, so the best they could do was defend themselves. I often think that as High King of Beleriand, or just as any king of Doriath, Thingol should have more aggressively attacked the Orcs encircling his kingdom, since they seemed to be in smaller raiding parties that he'd have the numbers to defeat. But in the Turin Turambar chapter, Beleg says they're hard-pressed to keep up the fight in Dimbar, so maybe Thingol's resources were more limited and spread thin, and he was doing the best he could do.


CuriousG
Valinor


Jun 17 2013, 12:46pm

Post #32 of 97 (161 views)
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Pathos and Turgon [In reply to] Can't Post

A scene that sticks out for me is Fingolfin's body being brought back to Gondolin's mountains, and Turgon coming to build a cairn over his father's body. Maybe he had servants along to help, but it sounds like very personal grief and a rather intimate father/son act to follow a heroic but tragic end. It's another detail that makes the war and loss more personal in this chapter as opposed to masses of anonymous troops clashing and dying in so many different locations.


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 17 2013, 5:02pm

Post #33 of 97 (149 views)
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More on calling for help [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
We the audience already know from Chapter 11 that Valinor has been hidden, and so that Turgonís embassy to Valinor is unlikely to get there. Is this the point where the Noldor finally realise what they are up against and that the Valar really meant it about them being on their own? (Well, officially on their own, Ulmo is doing his stuff...). What effect, if any does that have - on the characters,; on us the audience?




Well we find out in the first paragraph that things have no potential for full resolution, so we realize that all the valiant actions are meaningless...and it states that Fingolfin makes judgments to the best of his knowledge - so I think the No Help rule is one of the things he is contemplating here. He has to know Turgon is sending out for aid, but I wonder if he has little or no faith in the reception of the audience or even if they will make it to Valinor at all. Could explain some of his desperation in throwing caution to the wind and facing Morgoth. I wonder if, considering his initial desire to stay in Valinor and not follow the F-troop (going to support Fingon and not be separated from him) if there was a sense of bitterness as well at so much loss and strife.

I would say that it impacted Thingol least of all, having been distant from Valinor anyway and having his own card up his sleeve in Melian.

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


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 17 2013, 6:15pm

Post #34 of 97 (144 views)
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Excellent and touching point CG [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
A scene that sticks out for me is Fingolfin's body being brought back to Gondolin's mountains, and Turgon coming to build a cairn over his father's body. Maybe he had servants along to help, but it sounds like very personal grief and a rather intimate father/son act to follow a heroic but tragic end. It's another detail that makes the war and loss more personal in this chapter as opposed to masses of anonymous troops clashing and dying in so many different locations.




Even with help its still a very intimate way to grieve.

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


telain
Rohan

Jun 18 2013, 12:40am

Post #35 of 97 (141 views)
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more thoughts on Fingolfin [In reply to] Can't Post

Back a few discussion threads we were asked to come up with our favourite quotes form Tolkien. I believe it was FinweRL who quoted the passage where Fingolfin rides to meet Morgoth and I was reminded of how I felt when I first read that passage. I guess a better way to phrase that is how I felt that passage. I can barely say that I have read it; it is too noble and tragic...

That is part of my response to Fingolfin's single combat and though it is still gloriously painful to read that passage, I can step back and look at his possible motivations.

For one, he has had little support for launching an attack on Angband. For another, he has been "...sundered from his kinsman by a sea of foes." If he is to do anything at all, it is going to be risky. If he had no support before, he has none now and yet there is probably nothing more frustrating to be a leader (the type of leader that Fingolfin is portrayed as) and not be able to do something.

As the passage states he was motivated by wrath and despair -- but I think it was he character as a leader that shaped what he did with those emotions. I think it was a bold and desperate attempt -- maybe to give others a chance (a diversion!), or perhaps inspire some to take similar risks (depending on the outcome of his own risk), and maybe get the attention of one of the Ainur? Maybe seeing the end of the reign of the Noldor in Middle-earth, he wished to pit himself against the reason for all the tragedy that has befallen his people.

I cannot imagine that we are not to believe that his challenge was brave, heroic, noble, tragic. In particular I note the devotion to those who cared for his body after death. We hear of many others that fall during the Dagor Bragollach, but we do not hear about how their bodies were rescued and laid to rest in such detail. That the fall of Fingolfin signalled the ruin of Beleriand is evident, even if valourous Elves and Edain continued the fight.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 18 2013, 1:31pm

Post #36 of 97 (136 views)
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The tragedy of Denethor [In reply to] Can't Post


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I don't think the idea is that Denethor sits in his tower because he's too old or too cowardly personally to lead the troops.


I'm not sure Gandalf would agree with you. He tells Denethor: "...your part is to go out to the battle of your City, where maybe death awaits you. This you know in your heart." (The Pyre of Denethor)

I think Denethor is very like a modern general, as you say - and the reason that modern generals don't lead from the front is technology. When you can feel in control by getting information remotely, then you necessarily become remote from the action and start to feel that it's more important to have all the technology at your fingertips than to be there with the flesh and blood soldiers you are controlling. For Denethor (and Saruman, who behaves in much the same way), the technology is a palantir. But it turns out that the data provided by a palantir can be misleading - not wrong, just impossible to interpret correctly. There may be no Sauron to manipulate the data in the real world, but I suspect that Tolkien still would feel it was a poor substitute for getting into the thick of things and risking your own life for what you believe in.

Yet he doesn't say that the technology is bad in itself - Aragorn will use a palantir as king. But he won't be using it in place of getting his own hands dirty, and I think that's an important element of how Tolkien views leadership.


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



Escapist
Gondor


Jun 18 2013, 1:40pm

Post #37 of 97 (128 views)
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I think some of this depends on the particular situation. [In reply to] Can't Post

If there is only one single battle happening in one location - and that battle requires a full conscription of forces with the state of the city in the balance, then certainly, the King ought to be there!

But how well does that translate if there are multiple mini-battles all around or successive strikes and defensives? Certainly one person can't be in every fight.

Basically, the morality / expectations that apply in the circumstance of one single decisive winner-take-all battle happening in one location is probably not blindly applicable in the same way to every single military and police exchange that happens. I think this is a big part of what makes modern warfare different - there are multiple strikes happening at once in many places over long stretches of time.

Yes, if the general were expected to be personally in every single fight like this (even where it were possible) without any moments where reinforcements of some time gave him a break (like any other soldier in a long drawn-out warfare series of exchanges) then death certainly awaits him.


telain
Rohan

Jun 18 2013, 1:45pm

Post #38 of 97 (125 views)
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what if... [In reply to] Can't Post

Fingolfin's action is calling to the Valar for help? But in a "You are partially at fault for what is about to happen" kind of way. As such, I do think that Thorondor might have had a whisper from Manwe, but as we have noted many times in the past, help from the Valar is often too little, too late. So, as you say above -- "throwing caution to the wind" -- means a bit more, doesn't it! Nice one, Brethil!

I agree with you, too, that there is bitterness there. And maybe the end-of-life realization that so much of this destruction could have been averted.


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jun 18 2013, 2:00pm

Post #39 of 97 (130 views)
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Generalship by walking around [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that's a good point - generals (and managers) are sometimes too ready to collect convenient but indirect information (palantirs, reports).

In Denethors case, the quote about using others as weapons comes while the situation is unfolding over a wide area still. He should be riding around the defences (at least for part of the time) to raise morale & see what's going on. Probably his passivity is part of his mounting dispair, as much as genuinely needing to be in the ops room.

By the time Gandalf rebukes him in the passage FarFromHome quotes, he's completely given up Command of any kind & is committing elaborate suicide!

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

"nowimŽ 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!"


telain
Rohan

Jun 18 2013, 2:03pm

Post #40 of 97 (126 views)
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The Valar don't know fear... [In reply to] Can't Post

That was one passage that caught my eye as I was reading. Morgoth is the only Valar that knows fear, and as many of us I am sure know all too well, fear can be a terrific motivating force. Fear can also help you seek out, identify and deal with potential dangers in your environment -- be they real or imagined, people or things. Morgoth is highly motivated -- by both fear and anger -- therefore he stews in his underground lair cooking up armies of orcses and dragons and balrogs. Meanwhile the fearless (literally) Valar across the sea see and hear no evil...

I know I said I would do something about the Silarmilion as waking up to the real world (for the symposium), but I wonder, too, about the recurrent theme of hiding. The Valar, Thingol, and Turgon hide while Beleriand burns; in LOTR the Hobbits are known for hiding in the Shire and paying no attention to the outside world. There are many other examples throughout Tolkien and it seems to be a running theme that hiding for a while might save your own skin -- for a time -- but it may in fact be to the detriment of everything and everyone else.

Meanwhile, those who participated in some of the most tragic events of Arda to date (i.e., the Noldor) set themselves in the most precarious positions, and fight the most desperate, heroic battles -- and all for an essentially adopted land. Perhaps this is what Eru meant (through Mandos' every elusive speech) that the evil wrought will bring greater good. For as difficult as it is for me to read this chapter, it is one of the most memorable and one of the most tragically "beautiful" in the sense that not only are heroic deeds attempted, but the two Children are brought together and they are fighting for the preservation of Middle-earth against its destruction.

As far as whether the Noldor deserve their fate -- I am also not clear. I don't think they all do. I also don't think many realize that some of them might make it through this time, so everything does seem rather desperate (I keep using that word...)


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Jun 18 2013, 2:26pm

Post #41 of 97 (128 views)
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the suicides of fingolfin and denethor [In reply to] Can't Post

 
we speak of the suicide of denethor, but we don't speak of fingolfin's actions in this way, 'tho surely they were equivalent, on that level.

fingolfin rode forth, deliberately, to fight a foe he knew he had no chance of defeating, on both a personal level, as an individual, as well as en masse, with all the powers of kingship. he chose to face death in his own way, to take control.

denethor also thought the enemy was invincible, and thought it was the end. he, too, sought to take control over his last actions and die in the way he thought best.

it's interesting that a number of things are at work. first, i don't think these two deaths and their preambles strike most folks as similar. but they are, in many ways. i suspect the cleaving factor is that one goes out fighting (which is seen as noble, even if it's futile) and the other would lay himself on the pyre before he is even yet dead, while the fight rages on without him.

fingolfin's actions deprive his people of a leader, but they do leave a legacy. the bittersweet value of fighting on when there is no hope, that courage is always admirable ('tho i would say that it also takes a certain kind of courage or at least the ability to dismiss fear to allow oneself to be burned alive).

did fingolfin see himself as a symbol of his people, as he went forth to fight morgoth? or at that point did it feel entirely personal? if the latter, fingolfin would also be vulnerable to the charge that he abandoned his post. if the former, perhaps less so, but there's still room.

i'm certainly not trying to make a hero out of denethor ('tho i think in many ways he is most pitiable). but i do find the similarities between him and fingolfiin very interesting, and even moreso that these similarities are either not perceived by others, or perceived and dismissed. there's something that resonates strongly in our psyches when it comes to valiant, albeit knowingly doomed, actions. which can also bring to mind feanor (poof!), who exhorted his sons to fight on, knowing there was no hope of winning.

an interesting troika: fingolfin, denethor, feanor.


cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 18 2013, 2:32pm

Post #42 of 97 (121 views)
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Makes it more heroic if so - and a bit on Thorondor [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Fingolfin's action is calling to the Valar for help? But in a "You are partially at fault for what is about to happen" kind of way. As such, I do think that Thorondor might have had a whisper from Manwe, but as we have noted many times in the past, help from the Valar is often too little, too late. So, as you say above -- "throwing caution to the wind" -- means a bit more, doesn't it! Nice one, Brethil!
I agree with you, too, that there is bitterness there. And maybe the end-of-life realization that so much of this destruction could have been averted.




If Fingolfin rides forth with that in mind, then he has already made himself the sacrifice. Which can also explain why he did not 'calculate' the risk: if one rides forth with the intent to die in a cause, the math is already done. You make a very good point here Telain, especially as it was a battle for the ages and one that attracted attention, especially as he writes Fingolfin gleamed like a star, and Ringil glittered through the shadows.

Do we think that Thorondor perhaps retrieved Fingolfin's broken body because of the grief he saw that his telling of the tale wrought in Gondolin? He goes there first, and then returns after Fingolfin has been mangled - was Thorondor acting on emotion too, seeing the pain and sorrow of Turgon (and of all of fair Gondolin) that Morgoth has caused?

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


Escapist
Gondor


Jun 18 2013, 2:32pm

Post #43 of 97 (117 views)
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Good point about the mourning and despair. [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that was the heart of Denethor's problem.


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 18 2013, 2:44pm

Post #44 of 97 (116 views)
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More on eagles [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
How come you canít get an Eagle when you want one, and then three come along all at once? I suppose there is a danger of over-interpretation whenever the eagles appear - a bird must surely be entitled to build a nest or snatch a sheep without it necessarily meaning ManwŽ At Work Here. But whether Thorondor is on official duty or not, the eagle snatches Fingolfinís body from Morgoth, and has a good scratch of Morgothís face as well. Someone at least respects Fingolfinís courage enough to want to save him from being wolf food. Are the Valar, while not yet moved to provide any significant support, still watching and willing to note particular acts of bravery? That reminds me of the behaviour of the Norse or Greco-Roman gods in those mythologies. Someone is also going to a lot of trouble to get Hķrin and Huor to Gondolin, and then to arrange an eagle taxi to get them back (thereby neatly avoiding the usual rule that once you know where Gondolin is, you can never leave, in case you betray the secret of its location).

When Finrod swears an oath to Barahir, do you think he remembers his premonition about oaths when Galadriel asked him why he didn't marry (in Chapter 15)? Does he feel the chill but feel he has to swear anyway?







I think the Eagles get involved after Thorondor's foray into giving tidings to the sons of Fingolfin - and that was probably a matter of his interest being captured by the nature and sounds of the battle itself. Certainly we know of the connection between the birds and Manwe, but I'm not sure I see any Deus in this Machina. Certainly they are a powerful if somewhat neutral form of good, and I think that's what gets them involved. Thorondor first goes to Hithlum and Gondolin ( as I wrote upthread) and the grief he sees there may well have inspired him to take Fingolfin's body and thus feel a bond of friendship with Turgon.

So that could explain the eagles' general interest in the areas around Gondolin. And finding Hurin and Huor in Ulmo's protective mist may have been a sign to them that these folk were worth saving, and having trust in Turgon that's why they were taken there. We read later in canon how the eagles are loyal once friendship is earned - so I think I see this in all these interaction, as opposed to the Divine Taxi idea.

Finrod's oath feel rushed, a heat of the moment sort of thing, and then everyone darts off to do what they must. I wonder if it was only later on that a feeling of dread came over him...

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

(This post was edited by Brethil on Jun 18 2013, 2:46pm)


CuriousG
Valinor


Jun 18 2013, 3:06pm

Post #45 of 97 (118 views)
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Denethor fan! [In reply to] Can't Post

We finally found one, and despite plaintive denials to the contrary, I feel certain that posters of Denethor plaster your walls, and a 30-foot marble statue of him adorns your front lawn. But everybody needs a friend, and I'm glad he found one in you. I'm partial to Grima, but please don't tell anyone.

I'm a bit conflicted on how to read Fingolfin. I don't think he had a rational thought in his mind when he gave in to despair Denethor-wise, so I'm not sure he knew if he could successfully challenge Morgoth or not. I think he might have thought so, since at the beginning of the chapter he was trying to organize a full assault on Morgoth, and the commentary was that for the Eldar, that was wise, but they weren't wise enough to know what they were really up against and couldn't win. I think that comment is a clue to his later dash off to duel. He underestimated Morgoth and thought he had a chance, even if he knew they weren't evenly matched. So I'm not quite sure he's suicidal, but not sure he isn't, given his despair.

I also feel like he deserted his post and his people, Denethor-like. That's my gut feeling. Yet it's often said of leaders that they're supposed to embody the collective consciousness of their people, and in a way I feel that Fingolfin is all the despair of all the Noldor focused on one person, their High King, which is why he explodes like he does.


CuriousG
Valinor


Jun 18 2013, 3:28pm

Post #46 of 97 (113 views)
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The Valar aren't coming! The Eagles aren't coming! [In reply to] Can't Post


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You make a very good point here Telain, especially as it was a battle for the ages and one that attracted attention, especially as he writes Fingolfin gleamed like a star, and Ringil glittered through the shadows.

Do we think that Thorondor perhaps retrieved Fingolfin's broken body because of the grief he saw that his telling of the tale wrought in Gondolin? He goes there first, and then returns after Fingolfin has been mangled - was Thorondor acting on emotion too, seeing the pain and sorrow of Turgon (and of all of fair Gondolin) that Morgoth has caused?

I feel like the Valar are involved in this fight in subtle ways. First, Fingolfin rides off like Orome. Maybe that happens on its own (Theoden did the same), but maybe it's some divine inspiration. Ulmo can act alone, so maybe Orome can sense this from afar and, hating Morgoth and being one of the few Valar who advocates intervention in MEarth, maybe he acts alone and lends a sort of mantle to Fingolfin. And maybe that's why the Elf does so well in combat. Pure speculation, of course.

The imagery of the duel is rousing with the details you point out. Fingolfin gleams like a star beneath the shadow, and Ringil glitters as well. (I'm reminded of Gandalf vs the Balrog, where the Balrog lifts up his sword, and Glamdring glitters white in answer--clearly defiant, and just a sword). I feel like Fingolfin is more than just himself in this combat, that he's at the very least representing Good vs Evil, or in Tolkienspeak, he's representing the Firstborn of Iluvatar vs the malice of Arda Marred. He certainly makes Morgoth pay! Maybe Fingolfin is a vicar of the Valar as well, which is why he shines with light. Or maybe it's the latent Light of Valinor that's sprung up within him again. Anyway, he seems more like Sam vs. Shelob when Sam is more than a hobbit and is aided by indistinct outside forces.

While Ulmo aids the Noldor, Manwe will not, but still pities them. If Thorondor were really a Deus ex Machina, he wouldn't be so ex post facto, but I see in his after-combat arrival the pity of Manwe for Fingolfin, similar to that for Fingon rescuing Maedhros from being chained up by Morgoth. It may have been plain necessity that Thorondor scarred Morgoth's face to distract him and enable the body rescue, but it also seems like a strike by the Valar/Manwe, that Morgoth isn't really going to get away with all of this trouble and will have a day of reckoning. That's how I see it, anyway.


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Jun 18 2013, 3:52pm

Post #47 of 97 (105 views)
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regarding "poof" [In reply to] Can't Post

 
hi all --

a kind reader has brought it to my attention that in brit-speak, "poof" can have the meaning of "homosexual."

i'm not a brit, and my use of "poof" with feanor (twice on this thread... "feanor (poof!)") is a shorthand reference to his disappearing in a puff of smoke upon his death, because of his fiery spirit.

+most+ terribly sorry for any confusion that might have ensued. don't mean to disrupt the thread, but certainly wish to address it, so that no misunderstandings crop up. apologies if anyone was offended, but i restate that no offense of this type was meant in any way.


thanks for your attention and consideration.


cheers --


.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


telain
Rohan

Jun 18 2013, 4:22pm

Post #48 of 97 (97 views)
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well put [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Fingolfin gleams like a star beneath the shadow, and Ringil glitters as well. (I'm reminded of Gandalf vs the Balrog, where the Balrog lifts up his sword, and Glamdring glitters white in answer--clearly defiant, and just a sword). I feel like Fingolfin is more than just himself in this combat, that he's at the very least representing Good vs Evil, or in Tolkienspeak, he's representing the Firstborn of Iluvatar vs the malice of Arda Marred. He certainly makes Morgoth pay! Maybe Fingolfin is a vicar of the Valar as well, which is why he shines with light. Or maybe it's the latent Light of Valinor that's sprung up within him again. Anyway, he seems more like Sam vs. Shelob when Sam is more than a hobbit and is aided by indistinct outside forces.


especially the part about him being more than himself. I think that is spot on.

As Maciliel also points out, he might be thinking he is somehow symbolic of the Eldar, though if he does, I would argue that it is not a conscious thought. He is High King, and therefore he being a symbol of his people is inherent in the position (or should be). I think Tolkien wrote him in a way that makes that symbolism part of his being rather than a calculated thought.

I think, too, that Thorondor acts -- if he has any influence from Manwe at all -- with a whisper. I'm unclear how closely the Eagles are watching this combat, so therefore I am unsure how Thorondor would know about it (though through the description, maybe it is difficult not to know about it...). Perhaps what is working in Thorondor is Manwe's pity since Manwe created the Eagles himself and in reaction to Yavanna's dilemma in Of Aule and Yavanna. Maybe the Eagles then have a natural tendency to pity those noble and good creatures that tend to Yavanna's Middle-earth; the Eagles tend to the sky while the Children of Eru tend to the Earth. And perhaps because Morgoth concentrates all his attention on the CoE (and not Church of England...) he characteristically has a blind spot for the Eagles, therefore they can act as sort "bolts from the blue". (As well we know...)


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jun 18 2013, 4:48pm

Post #49 of 97 (99 views)
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Interesting compare/contrast! A further one - how about Fingolfin c.f. Frodo? [In reply to] Can't Post

How about Fingolfin c.f. Frodo? Is the only difference that Frodo's crazy exploit (carrying the Ring to Mt Doom) worked out, but Fingolfin's didn't? I think it's pretty clear that Frodo expects not to come back (though is not suicidal in the sense of +intending+ not to come back, or +hoping+ not to come back)?

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

"nowimŽ 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!"


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 18 2013, 4:49pm

Post #50 of 97 (100 views)
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Maybe more like Theoden? [In reply to] Can't Post


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fingolfin rode forth, deliberately, to fight a foe he knew he had no chance of defeating, on both a personal level, as an individual, as well as en masse, with all the powers of kingship. he chose to face death in his own way, to take control.

I've always thought that Denethor should have behaved more like Theoden - if he'd followed Gandalf's advice, that's what he would have done, and he'd have died gloriously instead of in shame. I don't think Tolkien would have much sympathy with the idea of a leader facing death "in his own way". A leader's responsibility towards those he leads goes to the death and beyond.

I like the parallels you draw between Fingolfin and Denethor, but you yourself show them as being more about contrasts than similarities. I think the same contrast is there in LotR between Denethor and Theoden. Dying well in a good cause is "worth a song", as Theoden himself says - a heroic death will be remembered, and will be a source of inspiration, for ever. And being "worth a song" is what Tolkien's mythology is all about, after all!


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


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