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*Silmarillion Discussion: Chapter 5, "Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalie", Part 3 -- Meet the Noldor Cast**

weaver
Half-elven


Feb 28 2013, 2:28am

Post #1 of 9 (497 views)
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*Silmarillion Discussion: Chapter 5, "Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalie", Part 3 -- Meet the Noldor Cast** Can't Post

Apologies for the delay! Here is the next installment... one more after this one...

Continuing on, Tolkien next introduces the main cast of the rest of the Silmarillion, the Princes of the Noldor (and two Princesses!)

By way of background, we are told that the Vanyar are beloved by Manwe and Varda, and the Noldor by Aule.

We also get a little bit of insight into how the Noldor develop as a people. We are told that Aule and his people come often among the Noldor, and they prosper so much that they begin to surpass their teachers on some things. They have a great thirst for knowledge, are changeful of speech, and love words – they try to name everything real and imagined. Their masons quarry in the hills for materials to build high towers, and there they find gems, which they learn to carve into many forms. They don’t hoard them, but give them out freely, and this makes Valinor an even cooler place.

The princes of the Noldor are then introduced, since they come back to Middle Earth later and star in the sequel. They are:

FinweKing of the Noldor, he has three sons:

Fingolfin is the strongest, most steadfast, and most valiant; he has a Vanyar mother
Finarfin is fairest, has the same mother as Fingolfin. He befriends the Teleri, and marries their king Olwe’s daughter, Earwen, the Swan maiden.
Feanor has the fiery spirit, and has greater skill in hand and word; he has a different mother who is Noldor.

Feanor has seven sons

Maedhros the tall,
Maglor the mighty singer,
Celegorm the fair (and a hunter who followed Orome),
Caranthir the dark,
Curufin the crafty (who inherits Feanor's craftsmanship);
Amrod and Amras, who are twins and the youngest; they later become great hunters like Celegorm.

Fingolfin has two sons, who go on to become kings later in Middle Earth

Fingon, who becomes King of the Noldor in the North
Turgon, who becomes king of Gondolin.

Finarfin has four sons, who are like brothers to Fingolfin's sons

Finrod the Faithful (later called Felagund, Lord of the Caves)
Orodreth
Angrod
Aegnor.

There are also two girls in the mix:

Fingolfin’s daughter is Aredhel. She likes to hunt and ride is ‘Younger in the years of the Eldar” than her brothers. She hangs out with Feanor’s kids, but doesn’t love any of them. She has dark hair, pale skin and wears silver or white and is called the White Lady of the Noldor.

Galadriel is Finarfin's daughter. She is the most beautiful of Finwe’s house, and her hair is like the gold of Laurelin, the other tree of Valinor.

Questions

1. I confess, I find all those "F" names are confusing. Do you suppose Tolkien did that so he could just file them all under "F" when he was writing this? Do you have any tricks for keeping all these characters straight?

2. Do you have a favorite name from the cast list Tolkien gives us here? Which of Feanor’s sons would you like to get to know better or have a beer with?

3. Why do royal sons outnumber daughters? And if every elven child lives forever, why doesn’t Elvenhome become overpopulated? Just how many elves can live in Aman, in Túna, or if you are Teleri, on the Lonely Isle?

4. What do you think about the description of the Noldor as a people? Can you see the connection between the qualities Tolkien shares about them here and the way they turn out later? And what kinds of things might they have surpassed their teachers on?

5. The Noldor strike me as being acquiring in nature – though it’s mostly knowledge at this point. Does the trouble start when they start to feel attached to the things they’ve learned or made? Is “attachment” the opposite (or even the dark side) of “longing” in Tolkien?

Last installment coming up next -- The Teleri finally get off the island!

Weaver



CuriousG
Valinor


Feb 28 2013, 3:43am

Post #2 of 9 (225 views)
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The Quenya alphabet stopped at F [In reply to] Can't Post

1. I confess, I find all those "F" names are confusing. Do you suppose Tolkien did that so he could just file them all under "F" when he was writing this? Do you have any tricks for keeping all these characters straight

This is one of those times where you want to thump the desk in front of him and cry, "What were you thinking?!?!" Didn't he get confused himself? Did he just consider this private fun, and would he have changed the names for publication?

There is something traditional about patronymics, the son's name resembling the father's (Aragorn son of Arathorn). That holds up here, but it swamps new readers, and swamped me. I clung to the family tree at the back of the book, but even flipping back there got tiresome. I could have used some more in-text reminders, such as repeatedly saying, "Then Fingon, son of Fingolfin, said to Finrod, son of Finarfin, 'Oh, what a lovely day,' and Finwe, father of Fingolfin, said, 'Yes, we're having lots of sun today, don't you think, my son, Feanor?" Okay, that would get unwieldy. Maybe constant footnotes would have helped. But after reading it a few times, I got them all memorized, so it stopped being an issue a long time ago. It's just such a hurdle for new readers.

2. Do you have a favorite name from the cast list Tolkien gives us here? Which of Feanor’s sons would you like to get to know better or have a beer with?

Turgon has a strong sound to it; one of my favorites. Finrod is another. I liked their names before knowing more about their personalities, and knowing the latter made me like their names more. They're some of the wiser, nobler folks in that dynasty.

I like Maglor, who seems to be a reluctant member of a cruel family. Maedhros I respect at times as the story goes on. Amrod and Amras seem the best candidates for beer buddies because they seem the least murderous and least vain. I put them in a category with Maglor as possible reluctants, though we learn so little about them, it's hard to tell.

3. Why do royal sons outnumber daughters? And if every elven child lives forever, why doesn’t Elvenhome become overpopulated? Just how many elves can live in Aman, in Túna, or if you are Teleri, on the Lonely Isle?

Wait, are you saying Tolkien doesn't have gender balance in his characters? :) Given how most of what follows this family is war, and he eschews warrior princesses for the most part, I think they had to be boys. What I want to know is why most of them had no children of their own. And that might explain the lack of overpopulation. After the initial burst of babies from Finwe's and his sons' generations, Manwe preached the virtues of family planning to all the Eldar in Valinor if they didn't figure it out themselves. Feanor, ever the showoff, of course had the most kids in the dynasty.

4. What do you think about the description of the Noldor as a people? Can you see the connection between the qualities Tolkien shares about them here and the way they turn out later? And what kinds of things might they have surpassed their teachers on?

This is still the Age of Innocence, and I admire the Noldor's curiosity and generosity. Their ambition to always do things greater and better than before is endearing. I get the feeling that they made Valinor a better place than the Valar could all on their own, and that they contributed more than the Vanyar and Teleri did. What became of them later was a corruption of their best traits.

Hard to say how they bested their teachers, other than in the cutting of gems, which it seems Aule created but never thought to fashion. It says a lot that Feanor created the Silmarils, and Aule never made anything close in comparison that we know of.

5. The Noldor strike me as being acquiring in nature – though it’s mostly knowledge at this point. Does the trouble start when they start to feel attached to the things they’ve learned or made? Is “attachment” the opposite (or even the dark side) of “longing” in Tolkien?

I still struggle to see them as "Deep Elves." They love knowledge, but of the factual and craftsman kind. They don't seem particularly wise or philosophical or profound, which is what "deep" means to me. But they love craft knowledge deeply, so I'll bend the word that way for their sake.

Agreed that they are acquisitive, and great point that it's only in knowledge at first. Even so, they don't seem to jealously hoard that knowledge any more than the gems they find and cut. The impending darkness to their nature seems to me to come from fear that someone will take what is theirs by force and deceit. I suppose every miser thinks the same. But they didn't start that way and didn't have to end up that way. All blame goes to Melkor. A pox on him!

Excellent question about attachment vs longing. Wish I had a good answer. I would try to say that longing is more instinctive, more deeply emotional, and a little more sublime than attachment. Elves long to see their kin and long to see Valinor. They aren't attached to Valinor if they haven't been there yet, and attachment to kin is different than attachment to Silmarils. To jump ahead a little (sorry!), Feanor is said to be more attached to his father than to the Silmarils, which says a lot. Maybe it's a matter of attachment to material things vs attachment to emotional/spiritual things. In that distinction, there's no dark side to the latter, at least in my view.


Finwe
Lorien


Feb 28 2013, 2:52pm

Post #3 of 9 (182 views)
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The F Words [In reply to] Can't Post

1. I confess, I find all those "F" names are confusing. Do you suppose Tolkien did that so he could just file them all under "F" when he was writing this? Do you have any tricks for keeping all these characters straight? Here's where I really lose some credibility in the Reading Room, but it's a fun story, so what the heck. I was a movie firster who stumbled upon the Encyclopedia of Arda because of their movie guides. Being enamored of the depth and history of Middle Earth through the movies, I started reading the encyclopedia entries. I probably read those entries for 2-3 years before I realized the the Sil even existed! At the time I felt like an idiot, but in retrospect, reading those entries made the F name problem nearly nonexistent for me.

2. Do you have a favorite name from the cast list Tolkien gives us here? Which of Feanor’s sons would you like to get to know better or have a beer with?
I like Curufin the Crafty's nickname. Having a beer with Amras would be nice because then I could ask him if he burned in the ships or survived.

4. What do you think about the description of the Noldor as a people? Can you see the connection between the qualities Tolkien shares about them here and the way they turn out later? And what kinds of things might they have surpassed their teachers on?
Absolutely. They are the proudest of people, and pride is a deadly sin for a reason.

5. The Noldor strike me as being acquiring in nature – though it’s mostly knowledge at this point. Does the trouble start when they start to feel attached to the things they’ve learned or made? Is “attachment” the opposite (or even the dark side) of “longing” in Tolkien?
"Love not to deeply the work of thine own hands" is the warning given to the Noldor. Advice they do not heed. I wouldn't say attachment and longing are opposites, as that would imply one is god while the other is not. ***SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!***Attachment what got Feanor in so much trouble, while longing is what got the rest of the Noldor to follow him to such disastrous ends.

Also, I do have a question about these discussions. Oftentimes, like on the last question here, it's hard for me to answer a question about the current chapter without thinking of something that happens in a later chapter. Is it preferable to stick to the chapter at hand when answering these questions or is it acceptable to answer with knowledge of future chapter events in mind?


As three great Jewels they were in form. But not until the End, when Fëanor shall return who perished ere the Sun was made, and sits now in the Halls of Awaiting and comes no more among his kin; not until the Sun passes and the Moon falls, shall it be known of what substance they were made. Like the crystal of diamonds it appeared, and yet was more strong than adamant, so that no violence could mar it or break it within the Kingdom of Arda.


CuriousG
Valinor


Feb 28 2013, 3:08pm

Post #4 of 9 (168 views)
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Jumping ahead to other chapters [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for asking. I think it's hard for all of us to NOT jump ahead, especially in these early chapters that are setting up the later ones where characters do more deeds and say more things, so it's natural to refer to those details.

I don't view it as a problem about spoilers, since this isn't a movie, but more of an issue of depriving a later chapter leader of some of their material. If someone were to choose now to jump into a lengthy analysis of Beren and Luthien based on something in this chapter, it would diminish that later one. Making references to them, however, is fine, and I think it helps to make connections in a complex book like this to bring things together.

But I don't think we have any rules or policies about it. What do others think?


Finwe
Lorien


Feb 28 2013, 3:15pm

Post #5 of 9 (173 views)
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That Makes Sense [In reply to] Can't Post

I completely agree with the example you gave and the general idea it conveys. I just wanted to make sure I was exhibiting good decorum. This is a tough chapter because it's planting the seeds of fate for the Noldor, so it's very difficult, at least for me, to give the chapter perspective without thinking of what those seeds sow down the road.

As three great Jewels they were in form. But not until the End, when Fëanor shall return who perished ere the Sun was made, and sits now in the Halls of Awaiting and comes no more among his kin; not until the Sun passes and the Moon falls, shall it be known of what substance they were made. Like the crystal of diamonds it appeared, and yet was more strong than adamant, so that no violence could mar it or break it within the Kingdom of Arda.


elevorn
Lorien


Feb 28 2013, 6:53pm

Post #6 of 9 (158 views)
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wait who has fins? is this a Jimmy Buffet song? [In reply to] Can't Post

1. I confess, I find all those "F" names are confusing. Do you suppose Tolkien did that so he could just file them all under "F" when he was writing this? Do you have any tricks for keeping all these characters straight?
I have to make sure I know who the main guys are, and when that fails I have to look at the family trees in the back. I'm assuming Tolkien used some form of patronomic(sp) from some forgotten culture to make these names. When I get confused most of the time I can figure out if its one of Feanor's boys by just reading on and seeing what theyre doing.

2. Do you have a favorite name from the cast list Tolkien gives us here? Which of Feanor’s sons would you like to get to know better or have a beer with?
I prefer Turgon, all those Fins get somewhat cumbersome and annoying. That and I find most of the sons of Feanor deplorable. Especially the C's. But I guess a musician I'll take Maglor for a beer.

3. Why do royal sons outnumber daughters? And if every elven child lives forever, why doesn’t Elvenhome become overpopulated? Just how many elves can live in Aman, in Túna, or if you are Teleri, on the Lonely Isle?
apparently elven wisdom had a huge chapter on excellent birth control means. Other than that, I have no idea. Perhaps immortality makes you less apt to procreate.

4. What do you think about the description of the Noldor as a people? Can you see the connection between the qualities Tolkien shares about them here and the way they turn out later? And what kinds of things might they have surpassed their teachers on?

The Noldor remind me of the concept of the Middle Child syndrome. They seem to always be seeking to outdo the other elves. They go over the top on gift giving, and they just dive right in to learning so they can be smarter and better.


5. The Noldor strike me as being acquiring in nature – though it’s mostly knowledge at this point. Does the trouble start when they start to feel attached to the things they’ve learned or made? Is “attachment” the opposite (or even the dark side) of “longing” in Tolkien?

I think linbe between longing and attachment are very very close to one another. In order to long for something, one would have to be attached to it. Now the line they both tread is covetousness, and jealousy. Once that line is crossed we begin to see the dark side.



"clever hobbits to climb so high!"
Check out my writing www.jdstudios.wordpress.com


sador
Half-elven


Mar 3 2013, 3:43pm

Post #7 of 9 (149 views)
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More Late Answers [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Do you suppose Tolkien did that so he could just file them all under "F" when he was writing this?
Well, at first Feanor was the son of one Finn, not of the royal house at all; the king was
(IIRC) Noleme Turgon's father - who was the first king of the Noldor (like Finwe), led them back to Middle-earth (like Fingolfin) and was betrayed, surrounded and slain in the great battle (like Fingon).
Later he identified the first king with Finn Feanor's father, and created this whiole history.

At a later stage, he decided that all the high prince should have the "fin" ellement in their name - so he gave Feanor the name of Curufinwe, and decided that Felagund Finrod's son was really Finrod Finarfin's son.

Do you have any tricks for keeping all these characters straight?
By now I just remember them.

2. Do you have a favorite name from the cast list Tolkien gives us here?

Not really.

Which of Feanor’s sons would you like to get to know better or have a beer with?
I don't really like beer, thank you.


3. Why do royal sons outnumber daughters?
There were more daughters - they just didn't do anything important enough to recount.

And if every elven child lives forever, why doesn’t Elvenhome become overpopulated?
Why are you insisting on asking questions about elves' demography? Suffice it to say that Tolkien never answered this properly - not even the question what all these folk eat.

Just how many elves can live in Aman, in Túna, or if you are Teleri, on the Lonely Isle?
After a few millenna it became the Barren Island.

4. What do you think about the description of the Noldor as a people? Can you see the connection between the qualities Tolkien shares about them here and the way they turn out later?
It seems to follow seemlessly.

And what kinds of things might they have surpassed their teachers on?
In thinking for themselves, for sure.

5. The Noldor strike me as being acquiring in nature – though it’s mostly knowledge at this point. Does the trouble start when they start to feel attached to the things they’ve learned or made?
I'm not sure what's wrong with this.
The trouble starts once they realise they surpass their masters in some things, and begin thinking independently.

Is “attachment” the opposite (or even the dark side) of “longing” in Tolkien?
No, I don't see it that way. Could you please explain?



telain
Rohan

Mar 5 2013, 6:39pm

Post #8 of 9 (125 views)
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a few more comments [In reply to] Can't Post

1. One of the reasons I keep a copy of The Silmarilion around -- I don't feel the need to remember every name Tolkien mentions when I can look them up. In fact, I might just print out your handy list, weaver -- thank you!

2. I usually quite like Elven names (either Sindar or Quenya). I like how (in my mind, anyway,) the name "Fingolfin" seems to have a interesting weight to it. It's not a name one can say quickly or easily. I would say there is a similar weight to "Finrod Felagund". "Maedhros" is also a pleasing name... I cannot, however, get behind the name Celegorm.

Number 3. Is a question I muse about sometimes... I don't really have an answer that would be "canon", but I do sometimes question the absolute immortality of the Elves and (for some) their uncanny ability to start major conflicts that result in a large number of them being killed off or lost to the wilderness.

4. I actually quite like the Noldo and if I had to choose to be one of the ranks of Elvenkind, I might choose Noldo. Of course they are flawed, but that makes them interesting, and apt to do interesting and sometimes infuriating things. I also like their curiosity about the world and how things work.

5. Good question! It seems fitting that the one branch of Elvenkind that is curious about how things work and how to make things would be interested in keeping the things they make (especially if they make something really special...) In many traditions, it is the desire to keep or acquire that leads people down the path to the "Dark" side, so perhaps the darker side of longing (a verifiable trait of Elves) would indeed be attachment.


elostirion74
Rohan

Mar 11 2013, 9:46pm

Post #9 of 9 (165 views)
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some answers [In reply to] Can't Post

"1. I confess, I find all those "F" names are confusing. Do you suppose Tolkien did that so he could just file them all under "F" when he was writing this? Do you have any tricks for keeping all these characters straight?"

It seems to me that Tolkien liked to use specific words as elements in many namers. Here it´s the element "Fin-" which is prominent. The names of Finwë´s children seem to be based on that of their father, which is not so surprising after all.

I notice that both Fëanor, Fingolfin and Finarfin use the element Fin- in one of their children´s names (Curufin, Fingon and Finrod). The rest of the names of their sons and daughter are more individual and varied, perhaps with the exception of Amrod and Amras.

I don´t have any particular tricks for keeping the names straight; some of the names I remember quite easily since they are prominent in the ensuing chapters. Later on it´s often specified to whom someone is related, quite similar to how it´s done in the sagas.

"2. Do you have a favorite name from the cast list Tolkien gives us here? Which of Feanor’s sons would you like to get to know better or have a beer with?"

I´m most curious about Maedhros and Maglor. Maedhros because he´s the oldest brother and as a consequence probably feels a greater sense of responsibility than the rest of his brothers to balance a sense of loyalty towards his father´s house with the needs to maintain good relations with the other princes and princesses among the Noldor. Maglor because he made beautiful songs that it would have been a treat to listen to.

4. I find the Noldor very fascinating with their love of knowledge and making things; their qualities sum up the potential and the distinctiveness of the Elves as a race, since Tolkien always underlined how the Elves are supreme artists. At the same time their thirst for knowledge and their ambitions are more open to exploitation, which is why Melkor later on sees them as a useful and natural tool for his plans.

5. It´s difficult to imagine creative minds who feel no sense of attachment to the things they make. Possessiveness and guarding things and knowledge jealously and making arms for that very purpose, though, is a different matter. In their early days the Noldor, like the other Elves, seem more eager to communicate and share their crafts and knowledge and it´s a clear sign of decline when they start locking up the works they have made.

 
 

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