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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
The Silmarillion discussion: Valaquenta
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Jan 13 2013, 11:42pm

Post #76 of 92 (539 views)
every time I see "org chart", I read "orc chart!"// [In reply to] Can't Post



Jan 14 2013, 1:18pm

Post #77 of 92 (534 views)
Fab discussion! Valar Rhyme for Hobbit Children [In reply to] Can't Post

This has been a wonderful discussion; I've really enjoyed everyone's take.

Only have something to contribute re the menemonic (sort of). Like you, I carefully drew a "family tree" and table of who ruled what powers, thinking I was bound to need it later – and nope. Only a handful ever showed up in stories or had stories about them. And naturally, I remembered those ones because there are stories about them!

But the mnemnomic seemed a fun exercise to try, so I started to imagine that the Valar were more involved than we think. Here's an attempt at something for little hobbit children to memorize in the Fourth Age :)

Gandalf was Manwe's: airy Eagles bringing aid.
Aragorn was Este's: healing hands on Gondor laid.
Frodo was Lorien's: seeing visions sleeping, waking.
Sam was Yavanna's: all things green and growing making.
Merry was Nessa's: unquenchable summer cheer.
Pippin was Vana's: the ever-young finds hope, not fear.
Legolas was Ulmo's: singing of the ocean wave.
Gimli was Aule's: Earth's treasures he freely gave.
Boromir was Orome's: his horn rang brighter far than any.
Bilbo was Nienna's: his pity ruled the fate of many.
Bombadil was Tulkas's: cheery, strong and set apart.
Arwen was Vaire's: weaving time with patient heart.
Elrond was Mandos's: prophesizing fate and doom.
Galadriel was Varda's: giving light to those who roam.

Sauron was Melkor's: their enemy of woe and hate.
Against him, these fourteen united: strove to mend marred Arda's fate.


Jan 14 2013, 1:26pm

Post #78 of 92 (505 views)
Excellent! // [In reply to] Can't Post



Jan 14 2013, 1:56pm

Post #79 of 92 (532 views)
Truly beautiful and excellent--thanks for posting it.// [In reply to] Can't Post



Jan 14 2013, 4:31pm

Post #80 of 92 (529 views)
Ready for the next chapter? [In reply to] Can't Post

I started a thread here: http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?post=561725#561725


Jan 15 2013, 2:43am

Post #81 of 92 (495 views)
thank you both - am happy you enjoyed! // [In reply to] Can't Post



Jan 17 2013, 12:51pm

Post #82 of 92 (486 views)
You still have Bolg Azog's son. // [In reply to] Can't Post



Jan 17 2013, 12:54pm

Post #83 of 92 (463 views)
Out of which, only two are clear references. [In reply to] Can't Post

"The Battle of the Valar" at the end of The Ride of the Rohirrim could be a place name, if we did not know otherwise.

A riddle: apart of Varda and Orome, Manwe is also mentioned in The Lord of the Rings. Where?


Jan 17 2013, 12:56pm

Post #84 of 92 (470 views)
Mods up. [In reply to] Can't Post

From time to time you pop in - and are thrice welcome!


Jan 17 2013, 1:09pm

Post #85 of 92 (501 views)
"The Elder King" [In reply to] Can't Post

Though that's not much of an answer, because I can't remember where. It's something that I suspect Elves would say, so Gildor in the Shire or someone during the Council of Elrond. Just guesses for now.


Jan 20 2013, 4:27pm

Post #86 of 92 (469 views)
Still within a fortnight of your post... [In reply to] Can't Post

Both some comments and some answers:

In Reply To
Some of the Ainur decide to dwell in the world, and become known as the Valar.

The Maiar are also Ainur. And I suspect only the lesser Ainur which are alligned to one of the Valar received that name - so there might very well be some Ainur in Arda who have come as free agents. Yes, of course I have the old merry fellow with the silly boots in mind.

In Reply To
who mostly come in pairs – a male Valar and a female Valier. But the term for a mixed-gender bunch of them is “Valar”

As far as I understand, the singular is "Vala", and is gender-neutral. Valier is a group of female Valar. It's just the bias of a male-dominated society which uses for a mixed-gender bunch the masculine form.

How did you feel the first time you ever arrived at this chapter and discovered it was a long list?
Well, my initial reaction to the whole book was dismay. The translation of The Lord of the Rings I've read at first had no appendices, and I really could make nothing at all from The Silmarillion. I somehow finished it, without being any wiser than I began.
Only after discovering the appendices, and Foster's Complete Guide to Middle-earth, I could tackle it for the second time, treating it as a study in some esoteric lore. With that approach, I've actually found the Valaquenta very helpful, and the realisation that quite a bit of the information is not necessary for the rest of the book (for instance, checking Nessa in Foster's Guide) was pretty encouraging. Blush

In Reply To
I can’t think of many modern books which would include a chapter like this, in this style, and in this place.

Scholarly books might.
And printed versions of plays are often preceded by a list of the Dramatis Personnae.

In that chapter, we meet Boromir, Gimli and Legolas for the first time; meet Elrond for the first time

Well, we've met Elrond a chapter before, and learn nothing of Gimli but his family. But that's just niggling.
More to the point, Elrond has been talked of several times before - so he's not like Legolas or Boromir, a new, strtange character foisted upon us all of a sudden.

In Reply To
Recasting Valaquenta as dialogue between football commentators would either be amusing, or literary hooliganism (or both) – anyone want to try?

I've looked it your profile, and noticed that you are Brittish. That's imprtant, to know what football you are talking about.
But no, I'll skip that one, thanks.

In Reply To
my wife studied classics and found it difficult to love a chapter in Homer’s Illiad which is basically a list of the ships setting out to Troy.

Book II! That's right - it isn't very entertaining. Perusing a map of ancient Greece might help you get a feel of the economic and political background of the Trojan War - but yes, I can feel her frustration.

In Reply To

The Bible has lists of people who beget other people.

Once again - these are needed to either establish lineage (something you need to follow closely in the Silmarillion), or to explain the map of the Near East.
But indeed - not the best reading material for a layman, or a schoolgirl (my daughter had to chew a few of them just recently).

In Reply To
I imagine Homer being sung, recited or read to people who might trace their ancestry back to these semi-mythical heroes. So, telling the tale in Ithaca, say, you’d better include those ships (“A shout out to those brave boys from Ithaca!”).

That too. Nice idea!
But I'm not sure how many of the people of the late Dorian period could actually trace their ancestry to Mycanaean heros?

In Reply To
New Testament writers, I think, were eager to prove that Jesus is of the House of David

But that's just the list at the beginning of two books. Those lists appear a lot in the Bible - long before that time.

does JRRT have an agenda here other than giving us information we as readers need to progress with the story? For example, does a full listing seem appropriate given that it is quite likely what his literary models of ancient texts would do.
Emphatically yes.

I note that (at least in my edition) we get the lists as “flat” prose... rhymes seem a reasonable way for mostly-pre literate cultures to memorize Valaquenta-like information, so perhaps would be in keeping with the genre.
Yes, it is odd. It looks as if Tolkien was trying to write this as a monograph, rather than a rhyme of lore.

Or do the Elves not need to memorize lists of Valar in elvenschool, since their elders met the gods personally?
I always think of this as a "translation" from an Exilic work, for the benefit of the Numenoreans, Dunedain or even Hobbits.

In Reply To

Athiesm, come to think of it would probably be pretty impractical for the Noldar.

Is Athiesm about practicality? Shocked

As an alternative suggestion for a game, anyone fancy a competition to come up with the best mnemonic for the names of the Valar?
Oh - Isee some good efforts were made!

How do you react to authors deploying so much invented terminology (Tolkien specifically, other authors for comparison)?
I haven't seen anyone do it as successfully as Tolkien. But then, how many had wasted so many years on this kind of invented mythology?

Is that risky (you might give up) or do you like it, or does it not bother you?
Yes, but I'm used to it.

In Reply To

In my view, the Lord of the Rings is given a lot of depth and solidity by the fact that JRRT had already worked a lot of this Silmarilion material out. So he could give offhand references to a great, hidden body of lore, to great literary effect.

I fully agree.

In Reply To
Or, given that he may have had little expectation that we’d ever be reading Valaquenta, is this a moot point

I think he did hope it would be.

The Valar have gender...
Too long for me by now. I will continus it tommorow.

Registered User

Jan 22 2013, 10:17pm

Post #87 of 92 (465 views)
Doesn't it bother anyone else... [In reply to] Can't Post

Don't know if it's too late to post, but I was reading the conversation way back and had some thoughts -

Doesn't it bother anyone else that far more of the 'important Valar', the Aratar, are male than female? And that quite a few of the Valar are 'filler wives' as someone else put it in a post further back? (sorry, can;t remember who). Perhaps Tolkien didn't see it that way and saw Este as equal to Lorien, etc. Varda and Yavanna and Nienna are certainly important, but Tolkien makes it clear that Manwe, Aule and Ulmo are the three 'lords' of the Valar. I know they are not really male female etc and just choose that form but still, energies I would consider more female such as the sea and the earth are male here. I love Tolkien, but as I get older I wonder if I 'should' be bothered by the lack of female energies in his books.

Then again, perhaps we just have to realise the energies Tolkien's talking about are beyond gender, and are just emodied as so in myths and stories to make them easier for us to comprehend.

I really love the Valar rhyme. I personally would swap Frodo and Bilbo and put Frodo with Nienna as he went through so much suffering and grief, and yet had pity, and Bilbo was an adventurer and story-teller with visions and dreams. This Hobbit's going to write it down and keep it!

Finally, does anyone know of any beautiful Valar fan art? I tried drawing some myself but I don't think it did it justice

Etarre x


Jan 22 2013, 10:26pm

Post #88 of 92 (462 views)
Post away- we have no "last posting date" :) // [In reply to] Can't Post



Jan 23 2013, 2:08am

Post #89 of 92 (572 views)
A picture of the Valar in all their might and glory? Got it. It ain't beautiful, but it is fan art [In reply to] Can't Post

Regarding illustrations of the Valar, I agree that it's odd that most Tolkien artists seem to dodge the challenge of showing the Valar in full pantheistic ensemble. This link goes to my answer to a similar discussion a few years back, where I posted the one image I've ever found.

squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Jan 23 2013, 4:57pm

Post #90 of 92 (480 views)
Pre-feminist Tolkien [In reply to] Can't Post

Welcome to the Reading Room, Etarre!

I think we've all mostly come to accept that Tolkien wrote in a pre-feminist era where he didn't see the need to balance the genders. Or maybe out of audience concern, he didn't think a gender-balanced account would be accepted. He is certainly criticized quite frequently for his male bias. I figure we just have to live with it. It can be mitigated that Varda is revered by the Elves more than any other, including Manwe, who was the #1 Vala. That allows for some flexibility in calculating power balances.

Another consideration is that though Tolkien tends to not have many female characters, the ones he writes about the most are all strong-willed. It's a long list of them: Melian, Luthien, Haleth, Idril, Galadriel, Morwen, Aredhel, and many more. There are the filler wives among the Valar, and later "the wife of Dorlas" who's just a footnote and doesn't even merit a name, it seems, but when a female character gets truly developed, they are not damsels in distress. Even Luthien could have been traditionally made the damsel in distress, but she's at least an equal partner in the tale, and maybe more than equal to Beren.

I'm not sure we can project current perspectives on past authors and ever be satisfied. One could fault Tolkien for having no gay characters and no positive non-Caucasian characters (the Easterlings usually seem primitive and often treacherous compared to what seem like good, white Europeans). Or one could criticize his writings for being too Christian--does he give other religions equal consideration, and what about atheists and agnostics? Or the reverse is possible: isn't he betraying his Christian roots by have a monotheistic god delegate power to a bunch of heathen gods who rule the world, and isn't that an affront to devout Christians? For me, I just accept that he had his own world view that isn't the same as mine, but isn't overly offensive either.

I read my first book by Hemingway last summer, The Sun Also Rises, and his insulting remarks about Jews made me never want to read him again, and I'm not Jewish, even though I understand he was not alone in his anti-Semitism at the time; Fitzgerald was rather repulsive about them in The Great Gatsby. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness depicted Africans as little more than monkeys. Tolkien could have been a lot worse!


Jan 27 2013, 2:54pm

Post #91 of 92 (487 views)
There's a lively discussion of Orc origins on this thread: http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?post=562557#562557 // [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....
Feel free to meddle in the affairs of noWizardMe by agreeing or disagreeing (politely...) with my posts! I may not be subtle, but at least I'm usually slow to anger...


Jan 27 2013, 10:11pm

Post #92 of 92 (618 views)
Actually, Bilbo. [In reply to] Can't Post

In his poem of Earendil, in 'Many Meetings'.

And another interesting fact - Orome is mentioned twice!
Theoden is compared to him as he charges to the Pelennor Fields, but Denethor also mentions 'the Kine of Araw', one of which contributed the horn which was last wielded by Boromir. Araw is another name of Orome.

I miss this place. Hopefully I'll be back next week. There's quite a lot to catch up with, seemingly.

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