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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Tolkien at UVM - 2012 summer - week 2 - Elf Ethnicities

bglenney_uvm
The Shire

Jul 12 2012, 1:15am

Post #1 of 14 (493 views)
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Tolkien at UVM - 2012 summer - week 2 - Elf Ethnicities Can't Post

COMMENT: The Silmarillion tells us of the great migration of the Elves from Cuivienen in the eastern reaches of Middle-earth across the sea to the Undyling Lands in the uttermost west. Along the way, the 1st (Vanyar) and 2nd (Noldor) of the 3 Elf peoples complete the migration, but the 3rd and largest group (Teleri) have trouble staying together and "lose" large groups in the process. Some refuse to leave. Others decide to settle along the Anduin and never cross the Misty Mountains. Still others settle in different parts of Beleriand. Only some complete the sea voyage, and at that point their leader decides to stay behind. In later chapters, we come across migrations in the opposite direction. A portion of the Noldor return from the Undying Lands in order to wage war against Morgoth. In the episodes that follow, we find out that the returning Noldor and the Sindar (those Teleri who remain in Beleriand), having lived separately long enough, now speak different languages. After Beleriand is destroyed in the War of Wrath, those Beleriand Elves who choose to remain on that side of the Sea must migrate even farther eastward, creating new realms for themselves or reintegrating themselves with populations of Elves (e.g., in Lorien or Mirkwood) who had left the great migration early on. Galadriel and Celeborn are not "natives" of Lorien; nor is Thranduil a native of Mirkwood (or Greenwood the Great, as it was once called).

QUESTION: Aside from the linguistic differentiation mentioned above, are there — among these different Elf groups — other cultural divergences that complicate these reintegrations? More specifically, when Frodo and the Company of the Ring near Lorien, Legolas is elated at the prospect of visiting the legendary Golden Wood, and I wonder how familiar or foreign this visit is for him — an Elf, but an outsider.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jul 12 2012, 6:00pm

Post #2 of 14 (182 views)
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Does Thingol "decide" not to go to Valinor? [In reply to] Can't Post

Once he rouses after being transfixed for so long (years?) by Melian, could he in fact still cross the sea, if he wished? We don't hear about any First Age journeys to Valinor after the initial migration.

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Curious
Half-elven


Jul 12 2012, 6:19pm

Post #3 of 14 (196 views)
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Legolas may be an outsider in human terms, [In reply to] Can't Post

but in elf years it hasn't been that long -- around 3000 years -- since the wood-elves or Silvan Elves of Greenwood lived just across the river from the Silvan Elves of Lothlorien, so I would think they have much in common still, more so than they do with the elves of Rivendell or Lindon. The Silvan Elves are in general less wise and more distrustful than other Eldar. They are a mix of elves who never went to Beleriand and refugees from Beleriand, with the exception of Galadriel, who returned to Middle-earth from Valinor.

In some accounts Celeborn also returned from Valinor with Galadriel, but it is unclear whether that was the story prior to the time LotR was published, or only a revision imagined after the fact. Indeed, in the text of LotR it appears that Celeborn cannot return to Valinor, and must be separated from Galadriel forever. Only in the appendices do Celeborn and Legolas make it to Valinor.

In the Third Age, the Silvan Elves of Lothlorien have had the advantage of Galadriel's ring and power to keep them safe, while the Silvan Elves of Mirkwood have been more vulnerable. There are more High Elves in Rivendell and Lindon. The refugees from Beleriand tend to take positions of leadership among the Silvan Elves.

The Silvan Elves also tend to distrust the Noldor because of the Kinslaying, although they make an exception for Galadriel.


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 12 2012, 6:23pm

Post #4 of 14 (189 views)
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The mass migration is past. [In reply to] Can't Post

Cirdan and his people could build ships, but presumably there are not enough ships to take everyone at once. On the other hand, the power of Melian seems to give Thingol a bit of Valinor in Middle-earth, much as the power of Galadriel did for Celeborn. And Thingol himself has been to Valinor.


CuriousG
Valinor


Jul 12 2012, 8:13pm

Post #5 of 14 (178 views)
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Cultural divergence [In reply to] Can't Post

Curious covered just about all I'd say, except one aspect that would complicate integration is the deeper quasi-religious experiences of the Elves.

When I think of Gildor and the High Elves that Frodo met in the Shire, I can imagine them spending a lot of time not there, but everywhere, singing praises and making references to Elbereth, whom they would have met in person in Valinor as Varda. To the Silvan Elves, she's more of a mythic figure, someone who made the stars and is important as an angel of sorts, but very distant, not someone you shook hands with once upon a time, no matter how reverently. By extension, I could see the High Elves in Middle-earth making statements such as: "Well, you know what Mandos always says about forgetting the past..." or "That's exactly the sort of spice garden that Yavanna says she'd like to grow someday." I'm being facetious, but my point is that there would be a profound difference in perspective on the Makers of the World between the different Elf groups, and that would create a gulf between cultures.

Great question!


Elthir
Gondor

Jul 13 2012, 3:41pm

Post #6 of 14 (183 views)
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Celeborn of the various clans [In reply to] Can't Post

     

Quote
Curious wrote: In some accounts Celeborn also returned from Valinor with Galadriel, but it is unclear whether that was the story prior to the time LotR was published, or only a revision imagined after the fact.





Celeborn as a Telerin Elf of Aman is a fairly late idea, and contradicts author-published description. Here's a simplified external chronology:

1941 (end of year) according to draft text Galadriel and Celeborn were possibly Noldor, arriving during the Exile. An early revision has Galadriel enter Beleriand earlier with Melian, with the status of Celeborn left hazy. 'For we have dwelt here since the mountains were reared and the sun was young.' Tolkien later added : 'And I have dwelt here with him since the days of dawn, when I passed over the seas with Melian of Valinor; and ever together we have fought the long defeat.'

Guessing from wording in the Epilogue (1948) ('The Lady came to his land and now she is gone'), Celeborn was not yet a Sinda or from Doriath in 1948, but if I recall correctly 'could have been' according to one of the draft versions of the Tale of Years (Second Age). In Unfinished Tales Christopher Tolkien refers to a phase when Celeborn was 'in all probability' considered one of the Nandor who did not cross the Misty Mountains. In any case Celeborn is stated specifically to be a Grey-elf, at least, after the linguistic revision of 1951.

Celeborn is now seemingly Sindarin from the early 1950s (and published as such in 1955) and into the 1960s (yet see below for a somewhat odd mention in a letter), and his clan status is firmly stated again in another account published by Tolkien himself in 1967, The Road Goes Ever On, where in reference to Galadriel it is said : 'She passed over the Mountains of Eredluin with her husband Celeborn (one of the Sindar) and went to Eregion.'

The Telerin idea followed, as implied already; but Tolkien may have forgotten that he had already published Celeborn as Sindarin... twice!


Quote
Curious wrote: Indeed, in the text of LotR it appears that Celeborn cannot return to Valinor, and must be separated from Galadriel forever. Only in the appendices do Celeborn and Legolas make it to Valinor.




The unused Epilogue to The Lord of the Rings implies that Celeborn was able to sail West (in the second version Sam says: 'His time hasn't come, and he isn't tired of his land yet. When he is tired he can go.') -- and as the Silvan Elves could sail west too, I assume Celeborn had made a choice here, even though a hard choice, and that ultimately he followed Galadriel into the West.


Quote
'(...) These comments imply that Celeborn could have left Middle-earth with Galadriel if he had wished, and Tolkien's replies to queries from readers seem to confirm this. In his unpublished letter to Eileen Elgar, begun 22 September 1963 he comments that Celeborn and Galadriel were of different kin: Celeborn was of that branch of the Elves that, in the First Age, was so in love with Middle-earth that they had refused the call of the Valar to go to Valinor; he had never seen the Blessed Realm. Now he remained until he had seen the coming of the Dominion of Men. But to an immortal Elf, for whom time was not as it is to mortals, the period in which he was parted from Galadriel would seem brief.' Hammond And Scull, Reader's Companion



Celeborn the Avarin Elf? Considering 'refused' there... but in any event he is firmly Sindarin again by 1967, as noted.


(This post was edited by Elthir on Jul 13 2012, 3:48pm)


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 13 2012, 4:02pm

Post #7 of 14 (175 views)
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I don't have time to find the language, [In reply to] Can't Post

but in the text of LotR, not counting the unused epilogue, Celeborn makes it sound as if he will be parted from Galadriel forever. Whether Tolkien conceived of him as Sindar or Nandor at that point, it seems that he did not yet conceive of him sailing to Valinor, or even having that option. He clearly rethought that at a later date, but did not think it necessary to revise the text, instead choosing to try to explain Celeborn's behavior as a mere delay, even though that does not make a great deal of sense. It also complicates the question of whether Cirdan sailed with Frodo and Galadriel or waited for Celeborn to make up his mind.

For me it is more consistent with The Silmarillion, and is more moving, for Celeborn to part from Galadriel forever, much as Elrond parted from Arwen. But Tolkien perhaps decided that it didn't make sense to allow Frodo and Legolas and apparently Sam and even Gimli to all sail to Valinor, yet leave Celeborn stuck in Middle-earth. So he relented in the end. And perhaps he was right to do so, for LotR is a different kind of tale from The Silmarillion.


(This post was edited by Curious on Jul 13 2012, 4:07pm)


Elthir
Gondor

Jul 13 2012, 8:04pm

Post #8 of 14 (125 views)
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More chronology [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Curious wrote: 'but in the text of LotR, not counting the unused epilogue, Celeborn makes it sound as if he will be parted from Galadriel forever. Whether Tolkien conceived of him as Sindar or Nandor at that point, it seems that he did not yet conceive of him sailing to Valinor, or even having that option. He clearly rethought that at a later date, but did not think it necessary to revise the text, instead choosing to try to explain Celeborn's behavior as a mere delay, even though that does not make a great deal of sense.'




I think the passage you're referring to here is: 'Kinsman, farewell! May your doom be other than mine, and your treasure remain with you to the end' (interestingly, in draft text: 'Kinsman, farewell, but your doom is like to mine, for our treasure will outlast us both.')

While admittedly suggestive, Hammond and Scull note that this part of The Lord of the Rings was written in the same period as the first version of the Epilogue -- with the period for this writing being dated 14 August to 14 September 1948, so not a relatively long period at least. And in this version of the Epilogue Sam says, first referring to the Lady coming to Celeborn's land and then leaving: '... gone, and he has the land still. When he tires of it he can leave it.'

Also, earlier in the tale Legolas had already noted that Silvan Elves had sailed from the South, so as either a Nandorin or Sindarin Elf I don't see why Celeborn would be restricted from sailing with his wife -- I'm not sure when Legolas' exact words were added to the draft text for this earlier chapter, but in the early version noted in HME it was yet said (to be said) in song that the elven ship waited in the havens long for Linglorel [Nimrodel], and when Ammalas [Amroth] was born away by a wind into the West, he leaped into the sea.


Felagund
Lorien


Jul 13 2012, 8:16pm

Post #9 of 14 (134 views)
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the West is open until the Doom of Mandos? [In reply to] Can't Post

We don't hear of any initial post-migration journeys West but until the Doom of Mandos / Prophecy of the North is pronounced Valinor isn't fenced off from the rest of Middle-earth. Thingol wakes up before the Doom , so in theory maybe he still could have gone. Once Mandos has spoken it's obviously a different matter - eg. the ill-fated voyages of Voronwë .

Welcome to the Mordorfone network, where we put the 'hai' back into Uruk


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 13 2012, 8:51pm

Post #10 of 14 (116 views)
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Thanks. [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, I think that is the quote I had in mind. I suppose it is possible that Celeborn is just torn between his love of Middle-earth, of which he is not yet weary, and his love of Galadriel. Similarly, it seems that Nimrodel may have delayed her trip to join Amroth, with tragic consequences, in part because she lacked his desire to leave Middle-earth. Okay, I guess I have to rethink one of my theories. It happens.


Felagund
Lorien


Jul 13 2012, 9:00pm

Post #11 of 14 (139 views)
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Lórien studies and more [In reply to] Can't Post

The Fellowship's foray into Lórien is a good place to start with your question. On the linguistic side, the Silvan Elves the Fellowship meet speak Sindarin but with such a strong (Silvan) accent that Frodo, who can speak a bit of Sindarin, can't understand them. Tolkien makes this point in Appendix F of LotR, adding there that names such as Lórien, Amroth, Nimrodel, and Caras Galadhon are of Silvan origin. One of the few words we hear the Silvan Elves say is is yrch, Sindarin for "orc".

Accent or dialect aside, there's the possibility that there were cultural differences between the Silvan Elves of Lórien and those of Mirkwood. Legolas remarks when the Fellowship first arrive in Lórien that "It is long since any of my own folk journeyed hither back to the land whence we wandered in ages long ago... but we hear that Lórien is not yet deserted". This suggests that there hasn't been much in the way of contact between the two Silvan realms in some time. This is reinforcd when Haldir later says "Even our own kindred from the North [Mirkwood] are sundered from us". Skimming through the histories, I can't find any reference to the Silvan Elves of Lórien and Mirkwood having anything to do with each other since the War of the Last Alliance, when King Oropher and King Amdír / Malgalad marched together - 3000+ years before the events of LotR (Unfinished Tales). All this is plenty of time to develop a new dialect and cultural differences.

For more on the differences between the various groups of Elves and the role of linguistics in this, it's worth reading the essays 'The Shibboleth of Fëanor' (The Peoples of Middle-earth) and 'Quendi and Eldar' (The War of the Jewels).

Welcome to the Mordorfone network, where we put the 'hai' back into Uruk


bglenney_uvm
The Shire

Jul 14 2012, 1:41am

Post #12 of 14 (115 views)
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multiple crossings [In reply to] Can't Post

Good point. When you're in love with a goddess, I imagine the number of choices dwindles (perhaps to one). As for other crossings of the sea, the Vanyar and Noldor make the first crossing, and the lingering Teleri "miss the boat" (so to speak). Those who choose to complete the migration have to find another way (and do). Were those who missed the second crossing somehow prevented from making a third? I hadn't imagined that this would be the end of the crossings in the First Age, but I'll have to do some more digging. Thanks.


bglenney_uvm
The Shire

Jul 14 2012, 1:44am

Post #13 of 14 (123 views)
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elf ethnicities question - thanks [In reply to] Can't Post

I appreciate all your contributions to this conversation. You've given me a lot to think about, and thank you also for the suggested further readings. I'm looking forward in particular to the Shibboleth of Feanor article.

Much gratitude.


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 14 2012, 12:46pm

Post #14 of 14 (253 views)
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You're welcome!/// [In reply to] Can't Post

 

 
 

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