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A Boy, A Girl, And a Dog: The Leithian Script

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And now we come to the closure and the summation of the whole bizarre project, the resolution that made all the preceding continuations possible, because I couldn't figure out a way to make it work at first until I realized that I could tell it in retrospect and completely change the tone and focus without it being inappropriate (at least in theory.) Some readers have understood the subtitle, and have been horrified at the prospect, to which the only answer I have been able to make is, "Yeah, me too."

There are a few brief remarks that need to be made at the outset. First of all, there are a few devices in the technical sense that allow this to work, which are not strictly canonical. The dedication at the opening, to Lucian and TSE, is not thrown in for looks. In fact, those who know those authors well might feel some trepidation at those lines as much as at the "disclaimer" that follows them. Eliot invited the Furies home to dinner after a disastrous vacation cruise in The Family Reunion, and Lucian needs to be more widely read throughout the science fiction and fantasy world for having gone far above and beyond in his pursuit of mythological accuracy, visiting Hades to interview Charon and his passengers, ascending to Olympus to interview Zeus himself, and sailing beyond the Gates of Hercules to find Homer himself on the Blessed Isles and ask him that that burning question in an attempt to solve the great literary controversy — what deep meaning was there in the opening lines of the Iliad, "Sing, goddess &c"—?

As Homer, in the True History of Lucian's impossible journey, replies over a glass of nectar, that it just happened to pop into his head, you can gather that his take on the myths in these metafics is somewhat less than ponderous. Riddled with bad puns and biting social commentary, you do not want to read Dialogues with the Dead or Dialogues with the Gods while eating or drinking anything. And Fishers, where the great Philosophers are given a travel-pass by Hades so that they can come up from the Underworld and beat Lucian up for parodying them in his Auction skit, is both hilarious and a great consolation to any student afflicted by academic pomposity.

What has all this to do with Arda? Well, aside from Lucian being practically the patron saint of fanfiction, there's a more than good chance that Tolkien was familiar with his work, being after all a classicist. In fact, it's quite possible that C. S. Lewis who makes use of one of Lucian's devices and refers to him in The Great Divorce, was introduced to his work by JRRT. And the alternation of flippancy and earnestness is very similar to the tone of Farmer Giles of Ham, or the dry asides and comments on the foibles of Shire-folk. But it is not mere mockery, his parodying, because it provides not only a refreshingly unponderous take on the classical myths, but also in doing so provides insights into those very legends and distant figures. —What would it have been like to be Hera, coping with having Ganymede around the palace, or Paris, being bribed by three Immortals to fix the judging of a beauty pageant, or the Gatekeeper of the Underworld, dealing day after day with clueless arrivals who haven't yet realized that being a famous sports hero Upstairs doesn't mean anything now?

In his interview with Zeus, Lucian notices a complicated amplification system built into the King of the Gods' study, which proves to be a sort of prayer-filter, through which the petitions of mortals can come to his attention. This, and the subsequent discussion of which pleas are answered, and how, has its reflection in my own device of the Loom. As a device, it serves a more important purpose than merely being a humorous modernism — it allows for information to be conveyed in the context of the story both plausibly and without endless expository dialogues, making it possible to get to what (I think) are the more important problems. Other solutions throughout (no specifics for spoiler reasons) which may seem no less dubious, are also borrowed from Lucian , but can at least be justified if not proven. (Surely you didn't think the Norns wove with ordinary wool? nor even a rayon-silk blend.)

But the most important things (and many of the minor ones as well) can all be backed up with HOME textual citations — even some of the more surprising ones. (All of which will be marked in these Notes as appropriate.)

You may also have noticed that there is an homage to old movies, of which I am a long-time fan, in the noir setting, and the casting of the Powers. As always, I cast by voice and presence — performers who have and thus can convey the necessary ranges of strength and nuance, not merely pretty faces; though again, as always, these are merely my own choices, and as with any play other casts might be assembled. Obviously this episode is impossible to stage — though if it weren't, this is where the special-effects budget would go — and so can only exist in the interface between "this glassy square" and the readers' imagination. But if it were to be done (and likewise the entire Script) ideally it would be animated by a collaboration of the greatest animators, (personally I favor Leiji Matsumoto and Hiyao Miyazaki) working under the direction of, yes, a Disney artist — the late, incomparable Kay Nielsen.

It's true: the renowned illustrator — and set designer! — was for a time employed at Disney's studios, though the only surviving work of his which actually made it to the screen was the very brief scene at the end of Fantasia, where candlebearers process into a cathedral to the "Ave Maria"  a sequence which instantly made me think of Nielsen when I first saw it, without knowing he was actually responsible for it. He had, however, been working on sketches for a "Ride of the Valkyries" sequence — and a Little Mermaid feature length film which would not in any way have resembled the one which was eventually released. Alas, they didn't happen. But we can imagine what might have been, and since Nielsen was responsible for popularizing "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," I'd like to have him helm this production too. (Coincidentally, the famous "Sorcerer's Apprentice" sequence in Fantasia is taken from an episode in one of Lucian's narratives, brooms and all.)

Finally, — does it work? It may prove to be an impossibility which should not have been attempted. this endeavor to steer between the Scylla of mawkishness and the Charybdis of buffoonery, whilst evading the Clashing Rocks of Canonicity and Artistic License. Nevertheless — Excelsior!

Oh, and the title? It comes from Lúthien's own description of Beren, to his face, in a moment of extreme exasperation — the point at which he is just about to set off on his own to infiltrate Angband, when she and Huan have finally caught up to him. That passage, from Canto XI of the first Lay of Leithian fragment, is key — to understanding not only Lúthien's character, and not only the Lay itself, but also the entire Arda mythos. And I don't think I'm exaggerating.

 

Act 4: SCENE I

 

"this glassy square" — Gower's speech recalls the intrusive reminder of the physical setting of the play during the narration of Henry V, in which the theatre is called "this wooden O" and the audience requested to imagine the fleets of sea-going ships, the cannons being loaded, the horses and royal panoply of war which 16th-century special effects units couldn't provide — which, by making such an acknowledgment, that this is only a play, and a mere homage to events, and nothing really like, allows the process of suspending disbelief to proceed with an untroubled subconscious.

 

"Ainulindalë" and "Valaquenta," in the vernacular: I make no real apology for the informality and down-to-earth characterization of the Valar, jarring though it undoubtedly is. After all, the formality and reverential tone in which their doings are recorded is a necessary aspect of celestials' doings being apprehended by younger, more limited beings — but that doesn't mean that that is how they appear to themselves. On the contrary: the glimpses we get of them "up close and personal" together with remarks like that in Ainulindalë to the effect that it's useless going to Tulkas for advice, since he's preoccupied by the present and doesn't take the long-range view at all, suggest a lively and somewhat uninhibited bunch, far from stodgy, who don't necessarily behave in the way that younger races would consider appropriate for deities.

It isn't just that their own original language, invented for use in a material dimensions, was considered harsh and "like the glitter of swords" by the Elves of Aman, who endlessly refined theirs to make it more melodious. After all, the one Power we get to know quite well in Tolkien's writings is pushy, impatient, sarcastic, appreciative of good food — and drink! — and lamentably given to practical jokes, like leaving "Burglar for hire" signs on the doors of unsuspecting homeowners, or making terrifying pyrotechnic special-effects to shake up a tipsy bunch of partygoing townsfolk…

 

 The reference to the Eagle is a dual one — yet I think the secondary reference must have been intended by the author as well, and not really original to me. In the original texts from which the published Silmarillion narrative of the Geste was harmonized, it is mentioned (HOME:Lost Road & Shaping) that there were stories that she came alive to Mandos, either by crossing the Ice alone, herself, westwards (!) or that her mother had summoned one of the Eagles to carry her while she was dying over the Sea in a belated gesture of unselfishness, in the hopes that her daughter might be saved there; however these possibilities were discounted as unlikely even by the tellers, and the most probable that Lúthien in fact actually died, "fading" in the words of the various versions, out of grief, and went to Mandos in the usual manner, "down those dark ways that all must tread alone." (LT2, "The Tale of Tinúviel")

The reference to her travelling west via Eagle, however, is oddly reminiscent of another particular class of European folk-tales, most famously represented by "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," with which Tolkien was of course quite familiar. One of the sequences in this variant of the "Mastermaid" stories is the heroine's journeying through rugged mountainous lands, finding unexpected assistance, and when confronted with the need to make an impossible journey to the ends of the earth, across the sea, is aided by either the Winds themselves or by the King of the Eagles, who carry her to her destination and the rescue of the ensorcelled, sleeping, prince who is her long-lost husband. (There is something oddly familiar about that last, isn't there?)

So I have played with, or paid homage to, both sources with the suggestion that Lúthien must in fact struggle to reach the abode of the dead — and this too is not mere supposition on my part, based on world mythology and the preceding texture of the story, which has been far from easy on our heroine, as in one of the outline-drafts for the "lost cantos" of the Lay of Leithian, it speaks, following the lines, "the meeting and farewell of Beren and Tinúviel beneath Hirilorn. Burial of Huan and Beren," of the "Fading of Lúthien. Her journey to Mandos." (Emphasis mine.)

That it is described as a journey, and intended to warrant a descriptive section in the canto, indicates to me that it was not an easy jaunt. Eagles and other great birds have always been seen as spirit-messengers and bearers of the dead to the realms of immortality (q.v. the sculpted images of various Roman emperors being shown in apotheosis) in every culture around the globe; while the idea that Lúthien's Maiar side might take over while she was unbodied, leading to all kinds of distractions, has its inspiration in part in the distractibility of immortals by the natural world demonstrated by Voronwë in UT, "Of Tuor and his coming to Gondolin" — which would, as Silm. describes and Act IV shows, be exacerbated for those who are not only immortal but Immortal. That the Eagles, being who they are, great Maiar serving Manwë as messengers, exist in both the Seen and the Unseen realms is hardly to be questioned.

 

 For Beren not being among the shades of the Elven dead, I invoke the the 1930 typescript of the Quenta:

"More frail were Men, more easily slain by weapon or mischance, subject to ills, or grew old and died. What befell their spirits the Eldalië knew not. The Eldar said that they went to the halls of Mandos, but that their place of waiting was not that of the Elves, and Mandos under Ilúvatar knew alone whither they went after the time in his wide halls beyond the western sea. They were never reborn on earth, and none ever came back from the mansions of the dead, save only Beren son of Barahir, who after never spoke to mortal Men. Maybe their fate after death was not in the hands of the Valar." (HOME: Shaping of Middle-earth)

 

Yes, Huan is present. (Of course he's present — where else would he be?) But this is not mere conjecture, nor this artist's sense of "fittingness," nor sentimentality, that puts the faithful Hound waiting in the Halls with his beloved master for their liege lady. In those outline-drafts for the unwritten parts, after the line, "The wolf-hunt and death of Huan and Beren," follows the line, "The recall of Beren and Huan." So — he was always intended to be at Beren's side in Mandos, and after all, what would else would you expect of him? What he did there, and what followed that joint recalling, are sadly left to our imaginations: this is the result of mine.

 

Act 4: SCENE II

 

Considering that the Valar, in no recorded chronicle, are shown to have acted in haste and without deliberation, that there was a prolonged and widening discussion before ever Námo appealed to Manwë for assistance in solving the dilemma, (which as the mortal Bard reminds us was not solely the Doomsman's decision) is not completely implausible. Beren was dead for three years, and Luthien for two.

 

Tulkas & Nessa, respectively, are the patrons of Husband and Wife (note that they are not the patrons of couples, in the collective, which honor belongs to a different pair of demiurges) as well as being known for fighting (or rather, indeed, brawling), friendship, good cheer, and lively athletics. They are not famous for hard-headed logic or technical skills. This description of them, and the detailed story of Tulkas showing up out of the blue to the rescue during the primordial wars against Melkor and his subsequent marriage to Nessa may be found in Silm., "Valaquenta: Of the Valar" and "Of the Beginning of Days."

 

Finrod: The Grey Annals, the chronicles of Beleriand kept by the folk of Doriath, relate (among other details of the Quest) that Finrod was not long in the Halls of Mandos. Bearing in mind that "not long" does not necessarily mean the same thing for Elves as for mortals, it is still a very significant remark — for it inevitably leads to the question, How did they know? The Grey Annals being what they were, unless the notation is a "later scribal interpolation" it must necessarily predate the War of Wrath — which is the only point in the First Age after the Flight of the Noldor when corporeal, surface-traversing travellers arrive out of the West.

This means there are only two possible sources of this information. The first, least likely, is via the Eagles, who travel freely between the continents — but there is not much indication that they spend a great deal of time bringing news to people in Beleriand, or dealing with any save the people of Gondolin on a regular basis; nor would there be any probable way for the news to arrive from Gondolin between the Geste and the fall of Doriath, since the only significant egress from the Hidden Kingdom was during the disastrous expedition to the battle that would become known as the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, and there was not a lot of time for chatting and catching up for Turgon at that debacle, and the already shattered state of communications and travel in Beleriand post-Bragollach became a nightmare of Enemy occupation. So, barring a post-fall-of-Gondolin rewrite at the Havens, when the survivors of Gondolin united with the remnants of Doriath and Cirdan's following (or even later revision), there is one probable answer — and that is Beren and Lúthien themselves, upon their final return to Menegroth.

Now, this could, logically, have merely been conveyed to them; they might have only asked, and/or been told the news — that, perhaps, he had already been released. My reasons for taking a different tack are again, not mere sentimentality, but as with Huan's presence, a way of exploring a huge number of ramifications, implications, and cultural aspects of Valinorean history in a natural and dramatic manner. Because, after all, if he were still there — does anyone seriously think he wouldn't be meddling, too?

Gamma Note: My older cousin from the old Country: this is something of an understatement. Various volumes of HOME— the Grey annals and Annals of Aman, cite that the exact date of Lúthien's birth is unknown, but it was within the Valian year 1200, at the beginning of the Second Age of the Chaining of Melkor. This puts her of age with Fëanor; who was born in 1179, first of the second generation of Eldar on the Earth.

 Amarië: the facts of the case are few, but significant: we know that she was Finrod's true-love; we know that she was of the Vanyar, like his grandmother; we know that she did not go with him to Middle-earth, but remained behind in the West, at her family's wishes. From this, and from a few other things, we can however deduce a good bit more. Being of the Fair Elves, she would indeed be "pious and godsfearing" — but in the rarified, heady way almost of archangels themselves, not any sort of benighted folk-supersition, because the home of her people is literally right down the hill from Taniquetil, and so they walk among the gods most of all of the Eldar, and have the greatest and most direct knowledge of them, since they and their lord Ingwë were the first and most ready to join the Valar — and, since they are most concerned with music and understanding, in a mystical sense, unlikely to sympathize much with the desire for or interest in things, whether as collectibles or as technology, and even less likely to sympathize with rivalry, strife, and instability.

So much for generalizations. In specific, one can safely say that her family took a dim view of the proposed union, since it was in obedience to their objections that she did not join Finrod in the Return — and that she was extremely angry with him as well, because she obeyed them. If they had not had such misgivings, it is unlikely, given the deep reluctance displayed to break up or block even the most ill-advised of lovers in Aman, Finwë and Indis, that they would have been so forceful about it. It is essential to remember that Elenwë, the wife of Turgon, who died in the course of the Crossing, was Vanyar as well. (Why might they have objected to Finrod, one might ask, who after all is part-Vanyar himself? There is a very good answer in the fact of his extremely contentious extended family, who by this time were deeply embroiled in feuding and had been for quite a few years.) And if Amarië herself had not been furious with him, it is unlikely, given the generally-intractable nature of the Eldar, male and female, who feature in the chronicles of the First Age, that any parental disapproval would have sufficed to restrain her from going. (Again, I point to the example of Elenwë.)

Why furious? Well, Vanyar or not, the Eldar are proud. Rejection isn't something they deal with well at all, as the stories indicate. And to be set second, below either (in less-rational moments) mere things, like treasure and vengeance, or (in more cool-headed recollection) other people, Noldor friends and relatives, all of whom have forsaken peace and gratitude and cooperation for greed and self-aggrandizement — or worst of all, the lure of far-off lands and strangers, quite incomprehensible to the Vanyar, content to dwell where they are and needing no more from life than what they have — is a hard thing for a relationship.

And, of course, she ought to be a match for Finrod — in the medieval sense, that is, where the concept of mate included the notion that both parties were equally matched and appropriate for each other on many different levels — unless of course one takes the view that it was an ill-advised, youthful folly, and they were neither of them suited for each other at all, which is a bit hard to justify, given that Finrod at least was over a hundred at the time of the Return: not exactly a smitten young fifty-year-old with no experience of judging character, his own included. If they are really soul-mates, then Amarië is bound to be just as intelligent, perceptive, good-willed, and energetic as her would-be consort. (Which is rather a frightening thought, actually: not one, but two of them, working in tandem?) But a messy break-up, and four-hundred-sixty-plus years to brood about it, and the conviction of unshakable moral superiority, is a very bad situation to start over from.

—In other words, they're Doomed. (Think Nargothrond, and Finrod's response to rejection before the assembled folk there. Mirror it. —Take cover.)

 

"daughter of twilight" — Amarië's epithet is actually merely the literal meaning of her given name, Tinúviel, being the etymology of the word for nightingale. The situation becomes particularly ironic if it is borne in mind throughout that Lúthien is the daughter of one of the Ainur.

 

garment of hair: as well as recognizing the fact that there is something definitely outré about Lúthien's "magic," this is an invocation of later events in Doriath, and the insulting joke that Saeros — a relative newcomer to that realm, as well as seriously lacking in tact and judgment — makes to Túrin about the women of Dor-lomin. If Túrin had only waited a moment longer before hitting Saeros, someone else (once the stunned disbelief had worn off) would very likely have done it for him.

 

"in trouble" — the idea that Finrod and his staunchest supporters would be a significantly disruptive force in the Halls of Awaiting is based on the ceaseless energy that the King displayed in his lifetime, from taking charge of the March over the Helcaraxë to maintaining a vast communications network and overseeing it personally, and the sense that death, and Mandos itself, doesn't automatically change a person or individual personality. The hazards of having a relentlessly-inquisitive, adventurous, well-meaning speculative metaphysician famously known for underground building projects — and ten martial companions absolutely committed to him — on the premises also make for an amusing contrast with all the descriptions of the Halls in prose and poetry as a place of stillness, profound quiet, tranquility and meditation. (It also provides me at least with a great deal of diversion, considering the problems posed by the existence of a genuine, honest-to-goodness Philosopher King.)

 

 There should be a noticeable difference between the attitudes of the Ten (with individual variation, of course) now and in their interactions with Beren back in Act II, which were characterized by admiration, respect, and affection, but with a certain reserve — which is now entirely vanished. They have journeyed, fought, been POWs, suffered, and died together; he is no longer an honoured, but essentially-alien ally, nor is their respect for him due to the storied deeds of a stranger, nor their affection secondhand, so to speak, the inheritance of his father and kin.

 

 Meássë: in LT1, she's named as one who brings mead to the guests in the hall of Tulkas, and a warrior-goddess — in other words, she's a valkyrie. Tulkas, however, is no Odin, and Nessa nothing like Erde, so it only makes sense that their followers would also be of more cheery disposition.

 

 Fëanor: nowhere does it say that Finwë's eldest son was kept in solitary confinement — what it does say is that "he comes no more among his kin," which could be a poetic way of saying that he can't — but since any number of his kin have also been in the Halls of Mandos during subsequent Ages, and given the usual understanding of a phrase like "So-and-so never comes to visit", a reasonable conclusion is that his isolation is voluntary, though not unconnected with the reasons that he will be there for the forseeable future. (It is also imporant for fellow HOME junkies to bear in mind that at this juncture the Second Prophecy concerning the Dagor Dagorath has not been made: Túrin is still a small child and Tuor not yet born, far less his son Eärendil — and Morgoth not yet exiled to the Void, far less his future return predicted.) Whether it is for reasons of remorse, denial, pride, or combinations of all three, the implication is that until the War is ended, he will not be ready, or willing, or able, to break free of what the Vedic authors call maya, self-maintained illusions about the world and one's role in it, and attain dharma, the state of righteous harmony characterized by clarity of vision and purpose untainted by selfishness.

 

Glaurung: this is of course an invocation of LOTR:FOTR, "A Long-Expected Party," and just as that sequence has deeper and darker resonances, so too this, since that "golden worm" will ultimately conquer Orodreth and hold power as the last King in Nargothrond.)

 

 Roch: as subsequent lines hopefully make clear, this is just Sindarin for horse.

 

 "Healers" — any reader of Silm. who doesn't think Lúthien's handling of the situation merits awe hasn't spent much time dealing with trauma while violence is still on-going — or thinking about it (or even taking people to the emergency room.)

 

 Beren's comment about the left-over gouges from Fingolfin's duel with Morgoth now some twelve years back come from the Lay of Leithian and the outlines, where the "pitted plain" is specifically noted as they approach the guarded Gates of Angband.

 

 "under Morgoth's seat" — Note what two pertinent facts Beren has omitted, as he describes their infiltration attempt.

 

Beren's description of the great hall of Angband, Lúthien duelling with Morgoth, the account of the Iron Crown falling like a wheel of thunder, Beren frantically trying to pull the stone off, then remembering the knife, its subsequent breaking, their panicked flight, forgetting their disguises, and getting cornered by Carcharoth in the hallway, all come from LL1, Canto XIII.

 

 "fireballs" — all this sequence, as described by Beren, is actually canonical, coming from an outline for the unwritten Cantos (the bracketed words are somewhat smudged in the penciled original and conjectural):

"Carcharoth goes mad and drives all [orcs] before him like a wind. The sound of his awful howling causes rocks to split and fall. There is an earthquake underground. Morgoth's wrath on waking. The gateway [falls] in and hell is blocked, and great fires and smokes burst from Thangorodrim. Thunder and lightning. Beren lies dying before the gate. Tinúviel's song as she kisses his hand and prepares to die. Thorondor comes down and bears them amid the lightning that [stabs] at them like spears and a hail of arrows from the battlements. They pass above Gondolin and Lúthien sees the white city far below, [gleaming] like a lily in the valley."

 

Yup, they were those Eagles — old Thorondor and his two kids Gwaihir and Landroval. For some reason still obscure to me, Christopher Tolkien decided that having them be the same as in LOTR was somehow wrong, and edited out their names from the published Silm., along with other small asides, important and less-so. (The story-within-a-story about Lúthien's tears falling to the ground during their flight and causing a spring to well up, a legend of Beleriand which might be true, evocative of various classical myths, is charming, but not crucial; the bit that refers to the Eschaton is not the first, but definitely the latter.) This rescue-under-heavy-fire is more than deserving of a DFC, I should think.

 

Beren's recovering in Spring, as told in Silm., has suggestive similarity to the end of the Bragollach offensive at the close of that winter (to the extent that fighting cooled down at that time, if you will excuse the pun.) It is merely my conjecture that his awakening came with equinox, when the amount of sunlight becomes greater than the duration of darkness, however.

His being trapped in an unpleasant dream-world is also described in the Silmarillion, but earlier in LL1, Canto X, he has had a similar experience, if much shorter, during the night when he was being healed of the arrow-wound by Lúthien:

The shadows fell from mountains grim.
Then sprang about the darkened North
the Sickle of the Gods, and forth
each star there stared in stony night
radiant, glistering cold and white.
But on the ground there is a glow,
a spark of red that leaps below:

under woven boughs beside a fire
of crackling wood and sputtering briar
there Beren lies in drowsing deep,
walking and wandering in sleep.
Watchful bending o'er him wakes
a maiden fair; his thirst she slakes
, his brow caresses, and softly croons
a song more potent than in runes
or leeches' lore hath since been writ.
Slowly the nightly watches flit.
The misty morning crawleth grey
from dusk to the reluctant day.

Then Beren woke and opened eyes,
and rose and cried, 'Neath other skies,
in lands more awful and unknown,
I wandered long, methought, alone
to the deep shadow where the dead dwell;
but ever a voice that I knew well, like bells,
like viols, like harps, like birds,
like music moving without words,
called me, called me through the night,
enchanted drew me back to light!
Healed the wound, assuaged the pain!
Now we are come to morn again,
new journeys once more lead us on—
to perils whence life may be won,
hardly for Beren; and for thee
a waiting in the wood I see,
beneath the trees of Doriath,
while ever follow down my path
the echoes of thine elvish song,
where hills are haggard and roads are long.'

And they pick up fighting right where they left off the day before… (Beren's arguments to her as he has reported them to the Ten, as to why they cannot just camp out in the woods forever are almost exactly as they are given in the following verses of the Canto, by the way.) LB Page 266.

 

 chaos in Doriath: this is described tersely but clearly in the outline-drafts:

"The embassy meets the onslaught of Carcharos who by fate or the power of the Silmaril bursts into Doriath. All perish save Mablung who brings the news. Devastation of the woods. The wood-elves flee to the caves."

This is followed by the note that the three travelers find the woods eerily silent and empty as they proceed towards Menegroth.

 

The story of Beren aiding Finrod in the earlier verbal combat with Sauron derives from LL1, Canto VII, where (since "Detect Alignment" isn't infallible in Middle-earth) the arrested Eldar are commanded by a suspicious junior Dark Lord to swear a terrible oath of fealty to Morgoth which curses all life and creation along with the Powers in a primal two-minute-hate — something which if they were true minions they would not balk at, but which they cannot bring themselves to utter even literally to save their lives (remembering that words have binding force in Arda) — so Beren leaps into the breach, so to speak, by mouthing off to the Lord of Wolves in a diversionary attempt at FUJIGMO:

'…Whom do you serve, Light or Mirk?
Who is the maker of mightiest work?
Who is the king of earthly kings,
the greatest giver of gold and rings?
Who is the master of the wide earth?
Who despoiled them of their mirth,
the greedy Gods? Repeat your vows,
Orcs of Bauglir! Do not bend your brows!
Death to light, to law, to love!
Cursed be moon and stars above!
May darkness everlasting old
that waits outside in surges cold
drown Manwë, Varda, and the sun!
May all in hatred be begun,
and all in evil ended be,
in the moaning of the endless Sea!'

But no true Man nor Elf yet free
would ever speak that blasphemy,
and Beren muttered: 'Who is Thû
to hinder work that is to do?
Him we serve not, nor to him owe
obeisance, and we now would go.'

Thû laughed: 'Patience! Not very long shall ye abide.
But first a song I will sing to you, to ears intent.'
Then his flaming eyes he on them bent,
and darkness black fell round them all.
Only they saw as through a pall
of eddying smoke those eyes profound
in which their senses choked and drowned.

And the battle begins in earnest…

 

"Great Chief" — the "name" Boldog which causes so much confusion in the examination of the draft versions and outlines of the Lay in LB may not actually be a proper name at all, but a title, like Khan or Imperator, and thus might not have been intended to refer to any one orc-chieftain, but to whichever of them was acclaimed leader (no doubt after surviving rounds of challenge first, like Uglûk in LOTR:TTT) of the battle-group instead. This solution (another "yes" to an-either or, I'm afraid) occurred to me after finding the word means "powerful" + "slayer" which strongly evokes a ritual epithet, rather than a personal name, (though it could of course be both.) Thus, the Boldog sent to capture Lúthien after Morgoth discovers rumours of her flight, and who is killed in combat by Thingol while the Northern forces are destroyed by the army of Doriath on its way to Nargothrond, doesn't have to be the same Boldog whose was earlier killed testing Doriath's borders, the lack of current information concerning which event caused such disastrous results.

 

letter: that the infamous missive concerning not only Lúthien but Beren and Finrod sent to Thingol by Celegorm and Curufin was afterwards returned to Orodreth by his great-uncle, is found in the outlines; the method, that there was a river path along Esgalduin that was a regular line of communication between the two kingdoms, is mentioned in UT, "Narn i Hin Húrin," where Morwen, threatening to attempt her own crossing of Sirion, is taken to it by Mablung:

"Will you not return?"

"No!" she said."Then I must help you," said Mablung, "though it is against my own will. Wide and deep here is Sirion, and perilous to swim for beast or man."

"Then bring me over by what ever way the Elven-folk are used to cross," said Morwen, "or else I will try the swimming."

Therefore Mablung led her to the twilight meres. There amid the creeks and reeds ferries were kept hidden and guarded on the east shore; for by that way messengers would pass to and fro between Thingol and his kin in Nargothrond.

 

It is an irony that doubtless did not much amuse her parents, that while they were looking for her, and after they had given up hope of finding her, Lúthien was in fact inside the borders of Doriath, fending not only for herself but the convalescent Beren, with Huan's help.

 

 Beren's wretched Sindarin accent grating on Thingol and conveying the impression of deliberate disrespect is not only to be found in HOME but intriguingly mirrors a conversation reported in Letters between Professor Tolkien and an officer from New England during WWII — the young Yankee rather obstreperously challenged JRRT's British accent as phoney and put-on, and was somewhat surprised to learn that not only was it quite unaffected, his own "normal" American accent sounded, to his interlocutor, equally affected, as if he were deliberately trying to sound uncouth. (They also had a bit of a heated discussion on the matter of feudalism, not too surprisingly.) After this eye-opener (if such can properly be used of a matter strictly aural) however, the American became much less obnoxious, according to JRRT, and willing to look at such subjective impressions from a more objective and technical light, and they parted on good terms. (Myself, I wonder where in the Northeast the kid was from: up in the northern hills and to the west, the accent is surprisingly "southern," being part of the original Appalachian farming culture — this is undoubtedly how Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, from Maine, was able to convince a group of Southern soldiers he was one of their officers, and so escape capture during the Civil War. But some of the Boston-area dialects are so gruesomely distorted as to cause physical pain in out-of-state listeners: if you get the for-me-many-years-incomprehensible joke, "I'm outta here like a bald guy," you will begin to gather why.)

 

 Daeron: it's unlikely that they would have learned about the bard slipping off during the chaos of the initial searches for the escaped princess, though remotely possible that Huan might have heard from his avian contacts. My assumption is that everyone had more pressing things on their minds than wondering about someone presumably safe at home.

 

Melian & Thingol honeymooning in Dorthonion is mentioned almost at the very beginning of the second Lay fragment, in what is surely not a coincidence, as well as in Silm., "Of Beren and Lúthien," — "But the waters of Tarn Aeluin were held in reverence, for they were clear and blue by day and by night were a mirror for the stars; and it was said that Melian herself had hallowed that water in days of old."

 

Beleg: as Thingol's chief Ranger, and given his exploits at infiltrating Nargothrond to bring back the news of Lúthien's further flight and the exile of the sons of Fëanor, he would be the most likely candidate for such an intelligence mission.

 

That Carcharoth was intended and put in place as an anti-Huan device is not in question — post-disaster (at least from Morgoth's viewpoint it was a disaster) investigations indicating the presence of Huan at the debacle of Tol Sirion, a panicked Dark Lord took quick and urgent steps in the following weeks to set up an effective (hopefully) defense system against Giant Sentient Invincible-Except-By-Prophecy Hounds of Valinor. This is stated in the rough drafts: "Morgoth…thinks it is Huan and fashions a vast wolf—Carcharas—mightiest of all wolves to guard his door," and in slightly different wording,

"Morgoth hears of the ruin of Thû's castle. His mind is filled with misgiving and anger. The gates of Angband strengthened; because of the rumour of Huan he fashions the greatest chooses the fiercest wolf from all the whelps of his packs, and feeds him on flesh of Men and Elves, and enchants him so that he becomes the most great and terrible of all beasts that ever have been— Carcharos."

Canto XII goes into it at some length, detailing the rationale behind it and the morbid processes by which one force-grows a super-werewolf, which I will quote here again:

Then came word most passing strange of Lúthien
wild-wandering by wood and glen,
and Thingol's purpose long he weighed, a
nd wondered, thinking of that maid
so fair, so frail. A captain dire,
Boldog, he sent with sword and fire
to Doriath's march; but battle fell
sudden upon him: news to tell
never one returned of Boldog's host,
and Thingol humbled Morgoth's boast.
Then his heart with doubt and wrath was burned:
new tidings of dismay he learned,
how Thû was o'erthrown and his strong isle
broken and plundered, how with guile
his foes no guile beset; and spies
he feared, till each Orc to his eyes
was half suspect. Still ever down
the aisléd forest came renown
of Huan baying, hound of war
that Gods unleashed in Valinor.

Then Morgoth of Huan's fate bethought
long rumoured, and in dark he wrought.
Fierce hunger-haunted packs he had
that in wolvish form and flesh were clad,
but demon spirits dire did hold;
and ever wild their voices rolled
in cave and mountain where they housed
and endless snarling echoes roused.
From these a whelp he chose and fed
with his own hand on bodies dead,
on fairest flesh of Elves and Men,
till huge he grew and in his den
no more could creep, but by the chair
of Morgoth's self would lie and glare,
nor suffer Balrog, Orc, nor beast
to touch him. Many a ghastly feast
he held beneath that awful throne,
rending flesh and gnawing bone.
There deep enchantment on him fell,
the anguish and the power of hell;
more great and terrible he became
with fire-red eyes and jaws aflame,
with breath like vapours of the grave,
than any beast of wood or cave,
than any beast of earth or hell
that ever in any time befell,
surpassing all his race and kin,
the ghastly tribe of Draugluin.

Him Carcharoth, the Red Maw,
name the songs of Elves.
Not yet he came disastrous,
ravening, from the gates of Angband.
There he sleepless waits;
where those great portals threatening loom
his red eyes smoulder in the gloom,
his teeth are bare, his jaws are wide;
and none may walk, nor creep, nor glide,
nor thrust with power his menace past
to enter Morgoth's dungeon vast…

 

There is moreover a weird parallel between the clash/combination of Light and Dark powers in Melian versus Ungoliant, which results in the blighted area between Dorthonion and Doriath, the "Mountains of Terror," where the "poison of Death" that was in the Spider-demon and her lethal aura which has corrupted that region wars and merges with the healing, life-giving power of the Maia who was once part of the original domain of Lórien and a companion of the Vala of renewed life, Vána — and the situation of Carcharoth-plus-the-Silmaril. On the one hand, the entire physical being of Carcharoth is so corrupted on so many levels that contact with the Varda-blessed jewel sears him, just as it did Morgoth; yet on the other hand, containing the primal life-energies, undiminished, of the universe, it gives him inordinate power even as it burns him, so that he is maintained in a permanent state of destruction and renewing. In a way, he is but another casualty of the war, like Nan Dungortheb itself, since whatever pride and attraction to violence lured him to follow Melkor, this fallen Ainu can hardly have had any notion what he was getting himself into: if he weren't mad to begin with, such a grisly ordeal would certainly have made him so.

 

 Melian telling Lúthien that Beren is still alive but captive, for,

'The Lord of Wolves hath prisons dark,
chains and enchantments cruel and stark,
there trapped and bound and languishing
now Beren dreams that thou dost sing'

is found in LL1, Canto V, when she asks the Maia what has become of him and gets the bad news. (There's so much elegant, understated sensuality in the Lay of Leithian fragments that I'm surprised they're not more widely known; I guess it's the understatement.) The differing attitudes towards sex, implicit and embodied in the fact of Elves celebrating the date of conception, not of birth, as age-marker, follow naturally from the greater unity with the natural world that is theirs (including body-mind, which makes conception a controllable and voluntary action on the part of parents) and spiritually Unfallen state (unlike mortals, their Fall is the rebellion of the Noldor, a much more limited corruption, though certainly no less devastating in its consequences.)

A reverential but entirely neurosis-free and non-aggressive attitude towards reproduction is the natural result — "seldom is told of any deeds of lust among them" — and although Beren coming from a much more "primitive" society as well as one whose culture is heavily influenced by Eldar beliefs and attitudes (and being for all practical purposes a devout pantheist) would be far less afflicted by the neuroses of "modern civilization," there is still a world of difference between regarding something as Mystery and therefore not casually or irreverently spoken of, and not regarding it as any different from the rest of everyday life at all. The affectionate teasing his comrades subject him to, born of their incomprehension of his embarrassment, is intended not only to point up this fact (and contrast it with contemporary attitudes in our world), but to illustrate the confusion that mortals in turn experienced while dealing with the Eldar, the apparent contradiction between their vast knowledge and sophistication, and the apparently-childlike "naiveté" which doesn't understand (as Men see it) the seriousness of things ("Athrabeth") — whereas to the Elves it appears that Men are both troubled and troublesome, and the recipients of "strange gifts." (Silm., "Of the Beginning of Days.")

It's not entirely unrelated to their differing approaches to the Powers, as well, and the cognitive dissonance that Beren has mentioned earlier when trying to cope with statements like "And then I asked Varda…" which also follows from the difference of their respective backgrounds, which only gets worse the more deities he encounters.

 

The Nargothrondish scholar's theory (it is safe to assume she is the same one who didn't end up helping Lúthien in Act III) about mortals being lesser spirits incarnated by Morgoth is a variant of a common Gnostic tradition: the idea that the spirit world alone is the creation of God, and the physical world that of Lucifer; this form of Duallism necessarily requires that procreation, and life (as we think of it, organic and biological) itself, be regarded as intrinsically evil, since both serve to imprison pure souls in a corrupt material plane.

 

 The going-to-ground of Carcharoth as described in Silm. and the Tale of Tinúviel represents the big-game hunter's worst nightmare — even apart from sentience and demonic ferocity plus enhanced, off-the-scale size, to have a wounded, angry, invisible predator lurking in impassible territory as the sun goes down is one of those situations that no one trying to deal with a maneater ever wants to find one's self in.

 

"Then Mablung took up a knife and ripped up the belly of the Wolf; and within he was wellnigh all consumed as with a fire, but the hand of Beren that held the jewel was yet incorrupt. But when Mablung reached forth to touch it, the hand was no more, and the Silmaril lay there unveiled, and the light of it filled the shadows of the forest all about them. Then quickly and in fear Mablung took it and set it in Beren's living hand; and Beren was aroused by the touch of the Silmaril, and held it aloft, and bade Thingol receive it.'Now is the Quest achieved,' he said, 'and my doom full-wrought'; and he spoke no more."

 

 "tarrying" — There are several different ways to tarry, and in a place where one isn't technically supposed to be. One can do so loudly, challengingly, demanding of one's rights, and asserting of them — which sometimes works, but isn't pleasant for anyone involved, whether it works or not. Or, one can do so unobtrusively, not making an issue of it, for as long as possible; this will often be overlooked, and sometimes not even noticed, by the earthly powers-that-be. (This is different from hiding, note, which only works as long as it is successful, since once discovered the authorities will take an extremely dim view of further tarrying.) How do I know about staying in places technically off-limits? Erm … Ahem. All we are told by the texts is that Beren — unlike any other known mortal, before or since — tarried there as per Lúthien's instructions, so we must imagine for ourselves what said tarrying would be like. Given his behaviour in Neldoreth, I tend to the second option as most likely — and followed by the same utter stubbornness that outstayed welcome in Dorthonion for eight years; though nonviolently, as it seems highly unlikely to me that the policy strictly maintained by the Valar of non-coercion and non-interference would suddenly be changed.

 

"wrath of Ossë" — that mercurial and hot-tempered deity is usually the one responsible for ocean storms and deadly waves, but there is at least one notable exception in the chronicles.

 

 dew: excess energy from Telperion (in essence, small amounts of raw starlight) saved up in liquid form illuminates the Halls according to one legend.

 

That Beren was "reserved for torment" after Finrod's death is found in the Lay and the outline-drafts, as well as being implicit in the warning Sauron gave them, that if no one gave in, the last one would be tortured (in cruder, less psychological ways, that is) until he broke. However, since Finrod had accidentally given away their identities already while trying to convince Beren that it was a futile idea for him to think that he could save Finrod by turning himself in, and Sauron had already dismissed Beren as not knowing enough to be worth keeping alive, the only obvious remaining motive is vengeance, which is a pleasure the Lord of Wolves is willing to put off, while dealing with the present ongoing disturbance at his gates.

This casual disregard of the mortal as mere muscle, and not any longer a major player with Dorthonion effectively "pacified," is of course fortunate (and not indeed too uncommon in so-called intelligence services today, who all too often overlook key figures in conspiracy) as what would have happened, subsequently, had Sauron known, when Lúthien arrived, that it was her own true love he had in the dungeon, does not bear thinking about.

 

 "Wild Man" — although there is no reference to the Druedain in the published Silm., this does not mean that they were not present in Beleriand, as is revealed in UT, where we find that they, although few, shy and solitary, were beloved by the Elves who encountered them for their gifts of mirth and laughter, and also were honored and in demand for their skills as trackers and ferocious enemies of the Orcs. (Readers may recall that in Act II, the sons of Fëanor have mockingly suggested that Beren might be one of them.) However, they (prudently, perhaps) preferred to keep to themselves, by and large, although there is a story about one shaman of the Woodwoses who protected the family of a close friend among the Haladin, at considerable cost to himself; this story, "The Faithful Stone," is interesting as well in that we find yet again in Arda the concept of imbuing an inanimate object with one's essence, to focus (in this case remotely) one's power so as to be effectively in two places at once.

Like everyone else in Beleriand, they were driven south by the successes of Morgoth and eventually forced to resettle in the eastern, remaining parts of Middle-earth after the Dark Lord's defeat. However, some of them even took advantage of the gift of the Valar and journeyed to Númenor, where they lived until that realm began its decline, returning to Middle-earth with the cryptic (yet prophetic) statements that the place was no longer stable. (Now there are potential stories that would be interesting to tell, and hear, about those adventurous deep-woods tribesfolk crossing the Sea and living on what would become Atalantë!)

 

Halmir: this was originally the name of a son of Orodreth killed by Orcs (as mentioned in LB, "The Lay of the Children of Húrin," Canto III) who disappears out of the later versions, though not it must be said necessarily out of history. I didn't include him in The Script because I felt that it would be too much of a distraction, too diffusive of the familial and social energies already at play in Nargothrond, and would weaken the dynamic of the Finduilas-Gwindor-Turin triangle. However, it would certainly be possible to do a fanfic set in Nargothrond, which would include the unfortunate Prince, and could quite effectively use, as is implied in LB, his capture and death while out on patrol as further reason for Orodreth's unwillingness to engage in offensive measures, and could also make quite effective use of his loss as yet another son-replacement factor in Turin's instant adoption as Young Champion of the King, against all rational probability. (If I were to do it, I would follow the friendship of Gwindor and his brother with the Prince's children, and emphasize Gwindor's role as a first son-substitute, after his friend Halmir's killing, in Orodreth's affections — which would make his defiance and subsequent loss at the Nirnaeth all the bitterer to Orodreth and make even more inevitable his own displacement by  the Adanedhel as tanist. I don't have that story to write, myself, unfortunately, poignant though it would be.) But I have given his name to a fallen warrior of Nargothrond in tribute.

 

 Beren saying he should have died and been buried with his dad comes from LL2, the Canto X fragments, where just before getting run down by the exiled sons of Fëanor near the border of Doriath; he and Lúthien are having a heated argument over what they are going to do next:

"My word, alas, I now must keep
and not the first of men to weep
for oath in pride and anger sworn.
Too brief the meeting, brief the morn,
too soon comes night when we must part!
All oaths are for breaking of the heart,
with shame denied, with anguish kept.
Ah! would that now unknown I slept
with Barahir beneath the stone,
and thou wert dancing still alone,
unmarred, immortal, sorrowless,
singing in joy of Elvenesse.'

To which she, unimpressed, returns:

'That may not be. For bonds there are
stronger than stone or iron bar,
more strong than proudly spoken oath.
Have I not plighted thee my troth?
Hath love no pride nor honour then?
Or dost thou deem then Lúthien
so frail of purpose, light of love?
By stars of Elbereth above!
If thou wilt here my hand forsake
and leave me lonely paths to take,
then Lúthien will not go home—"

Considering this exchange in the light of what they've both just been through, here is all the warrant needed (if it should be needed) for the characterizations of Beren as a guilt-ridden depressive and Lúthien as sarcastic, impatient, and absolutely indomitable. (Also the Elven habit of swearing by the Stars.)

 

"reborn" — somewhat predictably, an affirmative answer for the rehousing-or-rebirth? controversy over Elvish reincarnation. It seems to me that the decision of those peoples who elected to stay behind in Middle-earth could be respected, allowing them to return there in the (to us) traditional mode of reincarnation, being reborn among their own kindred (even descendents, making it quite possible to be one's own grandparent) and eventually recalling their past experiences, thus adding layers of knowledge and understanding over time, like Vedic sages and heroes in the Mahabharata or the heroines of Celtic legend — or as it is said in the Quenta (HOME:Shaping of Middle-earth):

"Immortal were the Elves, and their wisdom waxed and grew from age to age, and no sickness or pestilence brought them death. But they could be slain with weapons in those days, even by mortal Men, and some waned and wasted with sorrow till they faded from the earth. Slain or fading their spirits went back to the halls of Mandos to wait a thousand years, or the pleasure of Mandos according to their deserts, before they were recalled to free life in Valinor, or sometimes were reborn, it is said, into their own children…"

Those who chose to come to Aman, on the other hand, and their descendents, not having the complicating problem of the almost-impassible Sea barrier, could be reincarnated right there, as soon as they were ready to return to the world, and pick up more or less where they left off. This would be a rather workable and fair system, but like any system would get bollixed up by intractable and anomalous cases, like that of someone who didn't want to be reincarnated at all regardless of what it meant to her family and friends, or who wanted to change his ethnicity to match his friends…

 

 "Normal Use" — this is the modern military expression for requiring replacement of gear, or parts, indicating that they've either worn out or gotten broken in expected ways. I have it on extremely good authority that this can be (and invariably is) stretched to cover unauthorized (but done everyday) use of tools for purposes which they are not (at least by by the books) intended to be used for, such as using specialized cleaning implements as prybars and replacing the skid of a helicopter which the C.O. had managed to intersect with the top of a tree… Given the literate, record-keeping society of the Noldor, contrasted with the intractable, independent nature of the Eldar generally, something like this is bound to happen (when it doesn't become overt non-compliance, as illustrated in Act III.)

The unfortunate (for everyone) Lieutenant Telumnar we have encountered already, in Act III, via the documents left behind by Finrod, outlining his discussions with the Captain over promotions, which Orodreth belatedly has discovered. The idea that good commanders know what they need, and don't need, to know about, is applicable to many situations, from parenting to organizing a business — though the opposites, at both extremes, are more obviously to be found. (One example of a leader who fails to grasp the fact that not everything needs to be micromanaged, and not every minor infraction sought out and punished, is to be seen in The Caine Mutiny, where the compulsive Captain Queeg makes "strawberries" into a byword for overkill.)

 

Andreth: we don't actually know for certain that Finrod didn't tell Beren about that ill-starred romance, which is chronicled in the "Athrabeth," the "Debate Between Finrod & Andreth," and where his radical metaphysical speculations are expressed as well. But since it isn't stated to have been the case (although there is an allusion to it in one of the original text of the prose Geste, which was removed for the published Silm. as an editorial judgment, to avoid confusion) and there is good psychological reason for not having done so — as well as the potential for drama and dark humor upon discovery of the fact that one of Finrod's younger brothers once dated and dumped one of Beren's great-aunts — I've gone with that presumption. More on this situation as the story progresses, to minimize spoilers.

 

An-the-deep-minded: another nod to the sagas, and the terrifyingly-competent Icelandic folk heroine who endured so many losses but was known during, as well as after, her own lifetime as Unn-the-deep-minded. (Laxdaela Saga)

 

waterfall: the healing aspects of water, and particularly the sound of running water, are a constant theme in the Arda mythos, as in the experience of the Fellowship after Moria, beside the banks of the Nimrodel, (LOTR:FOTR, "Lothlórien") or in Túrin's healing at Eithil Ivrin after his accidental killing of Beleg. (Silm., "Of Túrin Turambar")

 

Edrahil's explanation of their ghostly state as discussed and determined by the Noldor intelligentsia is actually a quick summation of the notion of the Forms, or Ideal Versions of Things, put forward in Platonic philosophy. (The phenomena they are attempting to explain also go along with classical mythology, and subsequent takes on the afterlife, but mostly with Graeco-Roman tradition. —Was Sysiphus rolling a real boulder in his punishment, or merely a virtual boulder? Regardless, it was "real" enough for living visitors to Hades to note and comment on it.)

 

As always, thanks are due to Ardalambion, for their easy-to-use online linguistic resources, allowing some creative use of vocabulary drills. (The ban on the use of Quenya in Beleriand proclaimed by Thingol would hardly be relevant to them at that point, regardless of ethnicity, given the terminal nature of their situation.) Beren's "cobbled-together" word Atandil means "mortal-friend," while Edrahil's retort, Atandur, indicating that he's just doing his job, signifies "mortal-servant." The reference to the "taste" of words is derived from the Quenya word lámatyávë or "sound-taste" which refers to an individual's sense of what words and combinations of sounds "feel right" when spoken aloud.

 

No, Edrahil's song isn't mine. I'm not that good: I just borrowed from a source very familiar to JRRT as well. (The itialicized lines are those which I didn't include in the excerpt for this scene, and the ones in brackets are not my own translation.)

"The Wanderer"

Oft him anhaga    are gebideð
metudes miltse     þeah þe he modcearig
geond lagulade     longe sceolde
hreran mid hondum     hrimcealde sae
wadan wræclastas     wyrd bið ful aræd

 

['Often the solitary man enjoys
The grace and mercy of the Lord, though he
Careworn has long been forced to stir by hand
The ice-cold sea on many waterways,
Travel the exile's path; fate is relentless.
'So spoke a wanderer who called to mind
Hardships and cruel wars and deaths of lords.]

swa cwæð eardstapa     earfeða gemyndig
wraþra wælsleahta     winemæga hryre
oft ic sceolde ana     uhtna gehwylce
mine ceare cwiþan     nis nu cwircra nan
þe ic him modsefan     minne durre
sweotule asecgan     Ic to soþe wat
þæt biþ in eorle     indryhten þeaw
þæt he his ferðlocan     fæste binde
healde his hordcofan     hycge swa he wille
Ne maeg werigmod    wyrde wiðstondan
ne se hreo hyge     helpe gefremman
for ðon domgeorne     dreorigne oft
in hyra breostcofan     bindað fæste

swa ic modsefan     minne sceolde
oft earmcearig     eðle bidæled
freomægum feor     feterum sælan
siþþan geara iu     goldwine minne
hrusan heolstre biwrah     and ic hean þonan
wod wintercearig     ofer waþema gebind
sohte sele dreorig     sinces bryttan
hwær ic feor oþþe neah     findan meahte
þone þe in meoduhealle     min mine wisse
oþþe mec freondleasne     frefran wolde
weman mid wynnum     wat se þe cunnað
hu sliþen bið    sorg to geferan
þam þe him lyt hafað    leofra geholena
warað hine wræclast    nales wunden gold
ferðloca freorig     nalæs foldan blæd
gemon he selesecgas     and sincþege
hu hine on geoguðe     his goldwine

 

—Oft should I, alone each dawn,
my cares lament: now living is none
that I to him the mood of my heart
dare disclose. I know full well
that for a leader 'tis lordly strength
that he his locked counsels shall fastly bind,
hold close his coffered thought, howso other he would.
No more may heartwearied Doom stand defying,
nor shall troubled musings bear with them help—
for they most earnest of others' respect, tears oft
in their breast's chamber shall bind away fast.

So should I oft my soul make safe—
beggared by care, bereft of my House,
far from my home — fettering my soul
since I left him, my lord gold-joyful, generous,
in earth's dark depths — and I unwillingly,
winterweary, was bound hither over the waves.
[And suffering sought the hall of a new patron]
Where might I find, living, friend or lord now
who shall in meadhall name me their own?
or my friendlessness would turn to friendship,
win me to joyfulness? —This do we know
how cruel a comrade is sorrow to him
whose true friends have all been taken,
wandering in exile — worthless the worked gold,
ice-cold his inmost thought, worthless the flowering fields.
[He calls to mind vreceiving gifts of treasure
And former hall retainers, and remembers
How in his younger years his lordly patron
Was wont to entertain him at the feast]

wenede to wiste     wyn eal gedreas
for þon wat se þe sceal     his winedryhtnes
leofes larcwidum     long forþolian
ðonne sorg and slæp somod ætgædre
earmne anhogan     oft gebindað
þinceð him on mode     þæt he his mondryhten
clyppe and cysse      and on cneo lecge
honda and heafod     swa he hwilum ær
in geardagum     giefstoles breac
ðonne onwæcneð eft     wineleas guma
gesihð him biforan     fealwe wegas
baþian brimfuglas     brædan feþra
hreosan hrim and snaw     hagle gemenged

þonne beoð þy hefigran     heortan benne
sare æftre swæsne     Sorg bið geniwad
þonne maga gemynd     mod geondhweorfeð
greteð gliwstafum     georne geondsceawað
secga geselden     swimmað oft on weg
fleotendra ferð     no þær fela bringeð
cuðra cwidegiedda     cearo bið geniewad
þam þe sendan sceal    swiþe geneahhe
ofer waþema gebind    werigne sefan

 

 

He minds him ever how all joy is broken, 
for that he knows that his joyful lord
and his dear counsel shall long be forgoing:
then sorrow and sleep  ever together
pitiful, solitary, oft are binding
him in mind that he his liege-lord
clasps and kisses and on knee lays
hand and head, as he did betimes,
vassal in spear-hall, at the gift-dealing
yet, then awakened, the joyless man
sees before him the fallow waves,
bathing the seabirds, broad of wing,
as sleet and snow and hail fall mingled.

Then all the heavier be heart's wounds,
sorely yearning after. Sorrow's made new again,
when comrades in mind and thought return:
he greets, joyfilled, earnestly looks on them
yet swiftly their souls swim oft away,
floating forth, nor bring their spirits
the cheerful harpsong. Cares are made new
to him that shall send ever anew
over waves binding the wearied soul.

for þon ic geþencan ne mæg     geond þas woruld
for hwan modsefa     min ne gesweorce
þonne ic eorla lif     eal geondþence
hu hi færlice     flet ofgeafon
modge maguþegnas     swa þes middangeard
ealra dogra gehwam    dreaoseð and fealleþ
for þon ne mæg weorþan wis    wer ær he age
wintra dæl in woruldrice     Wita sceal geþyldig
ne sceal no to hatheort     ne to hrædwyrde
ne to wac wiga     ne to wanhydig
ne to forht ne to fægen    ne to feohgifre
ne næfre gielpes to georn     ær he geare cunne
Beorn sceal gebidan     þonne he beot spriceð
oþ þæt collenferð     cunne gearwe
hwider hreþra gehygd     hweorfan wille

 

For this I may not in this world think
of aught that my heart might darken not
when I name noble lives all gone thence,
[how they suddenly have left their hall]
brave horsemen and vassals. So Middle-earth
and all upon it daily fades and fails.
For this a warrior may not name him wise
who has not dwelt winters in that worlds-realm.
[A wise man must be patient, not too hasty
in speech, or passionate, impetuous
or timid as a fighter, nor too anxious
or carefree or too covetous of wealth;
Nor ever must he be too quick to boast
Before he's gained experience of himself
A man should wait, before he makes a vow,
Until in pride he truly can assess
How, when a crisis comes, he will react]

ongietan sceal gleaw hæle    hu gæstlic bið
þonne eall þisse worulde wela     weste stondeð
swa nu missenlice     geond þisne middangeard
winde biwaune     weallas stondaþ
hrime bihrorene     hryðge þa ederas
woriað þa winsalo     waldend licgað
dreame bidrorene    duguð eal gecrong
wlonc by wealle     sume wig fornom
ferede in forðwege     sumne fugle oþbær
ofer heanne holm     sumne se hara wulf
deaðe gedælde     sumne dreorighleor
in eorðscræfe    eorl gehydde

 

—Such a one knows how soul-shaking shall be
when all this world's wealth stands bestrewn
as now likewise upon Middle-earth
the wind bewails where walls are standing
ice-enameled, ruined the fortresses,
fallen the wine-halls, [monarchs lifeless lie
deprived of pleasures,] dead the defenders,
lying by walls. Some the war took from us,
faring in faroff ways: that one fed the carrion fowl
far from harbour, to that one the ice-grey wolf
dealt out death, — that one the faithful friend
hid in earthen grave, mourning for lord.

There is a lot more of this poem which I haven't translated or transcribed, but which is well-worth reading, as it contains, for example, the lines "where now the horse, where now the rider?" and other trenchant meditations on hubris, mortality, and the transience of status and good fortune.

 

Act 4: SCENE III

 

This is among other things an homage to the great swashbucklers of the 1930's: The Prisoner of Zenda, Robin Hood, Captain Blood, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and all the rest of those films which managed to combine action, adventure, romance, drama, intrigue, special effects, great costuming, superb cinematography and well-turned dialogue, products of an art which appears to be largely lost these days.

Gower's speech reflects the frequent comparison of true love as more permanent than the sturdiest earthly monuments, both in essence and in memory, such as stone buildings and cast bronze statues, in Shakespeare's sonnets, q.v. the Notes to Act III. The addition of trees is a recognition of the culture of Arda.

 

 

Act 4: SCENE III.i

 

the Loom: much of what I have done in this Act is based on the following statement:

"Vairë the Weaver is his spouse, who weaves all things that have ever been in Time into her storied webs, and the Halls of Mandos that ever widen as the ages pass are clothed with them." (Silm., "Valaquenta.")

But it is often overlooked that Aulë is patron of weavers and embroiderers as well as smiths and artisans, and co-patron (with Yavanna, naturally) of farmers. (Silm., "Of the Beginning of Days.") Into his purview fall the arts-and-crafts, and the abstract sciences as well as the applied ones, and we are told that he and Melkor had most in common, and there was an intense rivalry stemming from Melkor's unwillingness to acknowledge anyone else his equal — but Aulë's efforts are all creative, and not destructive. (Silm., "Valaquenta")

Since it is also under his aegis that the Noldor invented and refined letters, there is a happy fusion of interests in Vairë's living-history recording project, and I consider it not unlikely at all that Aulë would have both been involved in the creation of it, and that at the counsels of the Valar their interaction would have taken the form of oblivious tech-speech, impenetrable to outsiders…

 

"the last crisis" — i.e. the flight of the Noldor. Not a chance reference.

 

Act 4: SCENE III.ii

 

The decorative flames are present because the effects of light and water feature in Tolkien's writing (q.v. Gandalf's fireworks in Hobbiton) — and also in an allusion to LOTR:TTT, "The Passage of the Marshes" which is probably not in the best of taste, but oh well.

 

 That Angrod and Aegnor were well-known to Lúthien follows naturally from their visits to Menegroth to see Galadriel. That she would be severely put out with them for harassing Beren at such a time (or any other) is probably an understatement.

 

"Black is the color" — this traditional English folksong has already appeared earlier, in Act III.

 

 Irmo, being (along with Estë his wife — note that the Powers nearly always work in pairs) the Maia principally concerned with healing and spiritual understanding, was both the Power into whose care Miriel was given — and, one might assume, most deeply affected by their inability to save her from her suicidal depression.

 

 Tilion: the pilot of the Moon, and doubtless the source of the expression "mooning about someone," as his hopeless, unrequited love for Arien, the pilot of the Sun, and their non-romance a subject of the chronicles — and for good-natured teasing, as is shown in the lore of the Shire, q.v. LOTR:FOTR, "At the Sign of the Prancing Pony." His intense psychic bond with the late Tree Telperion together with his defensive skills as a hunter made him the obvious choice for the job, as Arien's own communing with Laurelin and her combination of fearlessness and intelligence made her the automatic choice for hers; but Tilion's efforts to impress Arien by racing her and continued attempts to hang out with her, regardless of her own wishes, combined with his easy distractibility, have had a strong negative impact on his performance. The question of replacing him has not been recorded as coming up, however.

 

 Eöl: It's highly unlikely that anyone outside Gondolin would know about this situation, (q.v. Act III) given the isolation of the City — and given his previously-displayed behavior, I doubt very much that he would have suddenly changed his ways merely by virtue of being dead. It's all too easy to imagine him demanding his wife back from the Lord of the Halls in the same way that he challenged the Noldor lords in Beleriand…

 

 Beren's recognition of Irmo reflects the fact that in life, he has had a "prophetic dream," the warning of danger which preceded the dream-vision message given to him by Gorlim.

 

Bereg: the "black sheep" of the Bëorings, he has been mentioned earlier in Act II, and was the one who, together with Amlach of House Marach, convulsed the early Edain with a dramatic rift. (It also seems plausible that Sauron, or another minion, was involved in the scandal — but I tend to think Sauron myself, not simply because of the apt symmetry, but also because the message was entirely in the style of his later successful efforts to seduce Númenor.) Here, because it is so pertinent, is the story in full, taken from Silm., "Of the Coming of Men into the West":

But many Men remained in Estolad, and there was still a mingled people living there long years after, until in the ruin of Beleriand they were overwhelmed or fled back into the East. For beside the old who deemed that their wandering days were over, there were not a few who desired to go their own ways, and they feared the Eldar and the light of their eyes; and then dissensions awoke among the Edain, in which the shadow of Morgoth may be discerned, for certain it is that he knew of the coming of Men into Beleriand and of their growing friendship with the Elves.

The leaders of discontent were Bereg of the house of Bëor, and Amlach, one of the grandsons of Marach; and they said openly: 'We took long roads, desiring to escape the perils of Middle-earth and the dark things that dwell there; for we heard that there was Light in the West. But now we learn that the Light is beyond the Sea. Thither we cannot come where the Gods dwell in Bliss. Save one; for the Lord of the Dark is here before us, and the Eldar, wise but fell, who make endless war upon him. In the North he dwells, they say, and there is the pain and death from which we fled. We will not go that way.'

Then a council and assembly of Men was called, and great numbers came together. And the Elf-friends answered Bereg, saying: 'Truly from the Dark King come all the evils from which we fled; but he seeks dominion over all Middle-earth, and whither now shall we turn and he will not pursue us? Unless he be vanquished here, or at least held in leaguer. Only by the valour of the Eldar is he restrained, and maybe it was for this purpose, to aim them at need, that we were brought into this land."To this Bereg answered: 'Let the Eldar look to it! Our lives are short enough.'

But there arose one who seemed to all to be Amlach son of Imlach, speaking fell words that shook the hearts of all who heard him: 'All this is but Elvish lore, tales to beguile newcomers that are unwary. The Sea has no shore. There is no Light in the West. You have followed a fool-fire of the Elves to the end of the world! Which of you has seen the least of the Gods? Who has beheld the Dark King in the North? Those who seek the dominion of Middle-earth are the Eldar. Greedy for wealth they have delved in the earth for its secrets and have stirred to wrath the things that dwell beneath it, as they have ever done and ever shall. Let the Orcs have the realm that is theirs, and we will have ours. There is room enough in the world, if the Eldar will let us be!"

Then those that listened sat for a while astounded, and a shadow of fear fell on their hearts; and they resolved to depart far from the lands of the Eldar. But afterwards Amlach returned among them, and denied that he had been present at their debate or had spoken such words as they reported; and there was doubt and bewilderment among Men. Then the Elf-friends said: 'You will now believe this at least: there is indeed a Dark Lord, and his spies and emissaries are among us; for he fears us, and the strength that we may give to his foes.'But some still answered: 'He hates us, rather, and ever the more the longer we dwell here, meddling in his quarrel with the Kings of the Eldar, to no gain of ours.'

Many therefore of those that yet remained in Estolad made ready to depart; and Bereg led a thousand of the people of Bëor away southwards, and they passed out of the songs of those days. But Amlach repented, saying: 'I now have a quarrel of my own with this Master of Lies, which will last to my life's end'; and he went away north and entered the service of Maedhros. But those of his people who were of like mind with Bereg chose a new leader, and they went back over the mountains into Eriador, and are forgotten.

 

 "seen your father angry" — this is a reference to Galadriel's brothers getting thrown out of Menegroth upon the revelation of the Kinslaying and their prolonged silence on the subject. (Silm., "Of the Noldor in Beleriand") I've taken the (minor) liberty of assuming that they visited, like any proper heads-of-state in peace time, with an entourage, and that this royal train might well include high-ranking members of the court. Given that one of the Lay outlines speaks of the words of power being "wrung" from Sauron, this is an accurate guess on his part.

 

"What does he know about fire?" — this is referring to the fact that the Maia known to history as (among many other things) Olórin is in fact a fire-spirit, but one who "walked among them unseen, or in form as one of them." (Silm., "Valaquenta: Of the Valar.")

 

"ere Tilion's embarcation" — a reference to the dark deserted streets between the Flight and the Moon, as for that time (which may have extended for several years duration, though I am not certain of the chronology there) that the orbiters were under construction there was no natural light source in Arda except for the stars. This is a fact which, together with its full implications, seems to escape notice frequently, when the cataclysm is considered — which should not be the case. (It is admittedly difficult for those of us who have never experienced a cataclysmic natural darkness, such as following a volcanic explosion, during a blizzard, or in a hurricane, or even the perfectly-natural and brief one of a full solar eclipse, to do so — I myself have only ever experienced a 3/4 solar eclipse, which was extremely strange — but it needs to be attempted, or else the magnitude of the disaster of the Treeslaying, and the concommitant psychological disruption and effect on the populace, will continue to elude the reader.)

And yes, this would be a very raw bit of guilt-tripping, too.

 

Amarië: yes, one more "yes" answer to an either-or question: that of whether or not she and Finrod were married at the time of the Darkening of Valinor. In at least one place, she is referred to as his wife; but elsewhere, as in the published Silm., it seems as though they were not. The idea that that they might have gotten as far as exchanging public vows and rings, in keeping with Valinorean tradition, but not as far as the actual physical consecration of those vows, neatly allows for a gray area in which, depending on how one looks at it, they could be considered married, or equally, not. At any rate, they were definitely committed to each other, and so of course any apparent or actual rejection and betrayal is going to be infinitely worse…

 

jilting: this also serves as a nod to the Border Ballad tradition, "Young Lochinvar" and so forth, and the Scottish romances so popular beginning in the 19th century, though some of the atmosphere also harkens to the Icelandic sagas. That there would have been such strife among the Bëorings from time to time is implicit in the following passage:

"But it was said afterwards among the Eldar that when Men awoke in Hildórien at the rising of the Sun the spies of Morgoth were watchful, and tidings were soon brought to him, and this seemed to him so great a matter that secretly under shadow he himself departed from Angband, and went forth into Middle-earth, leaving to Sauron the command of the War. Of his dealings with Men the Eldar indeed knew nothing, at that time, and learnt but little afterwards; but that a darkness lay upon the hearts of Men (as the shadow of the Kinslaying and the Doom of Mandos lay upon the Noldor) they perceived clearly even in the people of the Elf-friends whom they first knew. To corrupt or destroy whatsoever arose new and fair was ever the chief desire of Morgoth; and doubtless he had this purpose also in his errand: by fear and lies to make Men the foes of the Eldar, and bring them up out of the east against Beleriand…"(Silm., "Of the Coming of Men into the West")

 

Tafl, the game I have used as "mortal chess" in Act II, also called cyningstane (kingstone), has simpler rules and more difficult play than what we think of as chess today. (And yes, chess did exist in Middle-earth, or some board-game translatable to "chess," at least, as Gandalf refers to it in LOTR:ROTK, "Minas Tirith," saying to Pippin, "The board is set, and the pieces are moving…But the Enemy has the move, and he is about to open his full game. And pawns are likely to see as much of it as any…" This doesn't of course guarantee that it existed in the First Age, but it gives me some warrant, at least, beyond mere probability.)

The reason for its presence and emphasis here is not only continuity with the earlier parts of the Script: it will become clearer, but the secret of tafl is that it embodies the "song of staying" described in LL1, Canto VII. If you haven't read the Lay of Leithian fragments yet — what are you waiting for?

 

Act 4: SCENE III.iii

 

No, Elu wasn't acting on his own — this was a well-discussed and collective solution to the Lúthien problem, and she's justifiably angry at everyone who was involved, either actively or tacitly, by not standing up for her.

"In angry love and half in fear
Thingol took counsel his most dear
to guard and keep…"

I have moreover made the presumption that the emissaries sent to Himring to demand restitution and help in finding Lúthien from Maedhros would include some of the most senior of the kingdom's counsellors.

 

Act 4: SCENE III.iv

 

kingstone: one of the several ways that tafl or cyningstane differs from modern chess is that you take as many pieces as are bracketed by your troops, like the games Othello or Pente.

 

 The question of what — had not the Bragollach intervened — Beren's adult career would have looked like is an interesting one. Recall that he was not in immediate line for the headship of House Bëor, being only the son of the lord's younger brother — and the lord himself having two sons of his own, both of whom had children of their own. Being so far down the line for "the throne" it's highly likely that he would have followed in his father's path as a military commander, serving at the Leaguer, under the aegis of the Princes. What his life would have been like outside that duty is more complicated. We are told that he was born different from other Men, "in a charméd hour," and was from the beginning attuned to the wilderness in a way far from normal, which had the beneficial effect of making him the most successful hunter around — a skill highly valued in a non-industrialized society, agrarian or not — as well as allowing him to survive a war-zone situation which would have destroyed anyone else. But this "otherness" might have made it difficult to fit in completely comfortably with his fellow mortals, lordly house or not, even as his future kinsman Tuor found it difficult to fully adjust to civilization after living a nomadic, outdoors lifestyle for so long. It's entirely possible — even probable — that he might well have ended up (given the existence of older, able cousins to help keep order in Dorthonion) eventually going off to follow the King, even as did his ancestor Bëor, and might have ended his days as peacefully in Nargothrond, serving as a Ranger there and learning the arts of music from Elvish masters.

 

"doesn't look like" a Bëoring: this remark is a comment on Beren's atypical appearance, the fact that he was a bit taller than was typical and had blue eyes and sandy-blond hair — perfectly legitimately, since his mother was a near relative of Hador "the Golden" and he in fact had Dor-lomin ancestry on both sides.

 

The fact that Ingold, meaning "Wise," is Finrod's mother-name, taken together with the fact that amilesse are believed to be prophetic, makes the fact that the Bëorings, who were initially convinced that he was one of the Valar they were seeking, subsequently conferred on him the name Nóm, which also means "Wisdom," particularly interesting. (Silm., "Of the Coming of Men into the West.")

 

Act 4: SCENE III.v

 

That Mablung was distraught at Beren's death is found in Silm., (since most unfortunately the extant fragmentary Lay itself does not go so far) where it is said that "Mablung and Beleg came hastening to the King's aid, but when they looked upon what was done they cast aside their spears and wept."

 

Act 4: SCENE III.vi

 

For the purposes of providing a different perspective on life before the cataclysm in Valinor, I have, as is now revealed, made the Captain and his family to have been faithful retainers of Finarfin's House, and not formerly of any great influence or renown, save among their own organization and friends. The idea that his sister also might be a huntress, goes automatically with the consideration of who in a great household might be Galadriel's handmaid, and what favored pursuits, given that lady's attested "amazon disposition" and her cousin Aredhel's delight in hunting. One might think of them not as, in those days, merely a gracious court of poets and musicians like Eleanor of Aquitaine's, but also like Diana and her maidens and favoured hunters — or indeed that medieval Queen and her contemporaries — riding far and wide with bow and spear exuberantly through the woods of Aman.

The Steward, on the other hand, is now shown to have come from a much "higher station" initially than his friend, and not the nearly co-equal status they now possess, from a much more "typical" Noldor background, and from a much more stressful family situation as a result. (Note that nobody has any doubt that rebel or not, the Captain's relatives will welcome him back with rejoicing, while his friend is not sure he still has a home to go back to.) By assigning him to the following of Mahtan, he is in a perfect position to be completely torn between parents who expect him to become a great artist — in the visual arts, and his own musical yearnings, pulling him equally towards the more skilled and prestigious grandson of Mahtan, and his much-junior, less-renowned, but far more congenial cousin and his multi-ethnic family. Which latter friendship itself will strain ingrained assumptions and snobberies to the breaking point, ultimately, but not without a great deal of personal turmoil in the meantime.

 

 "The Terrible" — I don't think it as unlikely as some authorities that Sauron would himself employ the name by which he was known in Middle-earth, in any of the forms of it (Thû, Gorthaur) throughout history, since he was, after all, the leading commander of a dictator, viceroy left in charge of the war in his soveriegn's absence, sent out to pacify insurgent regions, sieze key strategic positions, and deal with troublesome rebels. Being known as "the abhorred one" or "the dreadful" isn't an image problem for a warlord, really — or as the ancient saw goes, "Let them hate, so long as they fear me."

 

The notion of some sort of casting of lots derives initially from the mere fact that of the twelve captives, Beren and Finrod were left for last — and is validated not by a line of the authors, but by the crossing out of a line. In the outlines, it says:

"…they come upon the werewolves, and the host of Thû Lord of Wolves. They are taken before Thû, and after a contest of riddling questions and answers are revealed as spies, but Beren is taken as a Gnome, and that Felagund is King of Nargothrond remains hidden. They are placed in a deep dungeon. Thû desires to discover their purpose and real names and vows death, one by one, and torment to the last one, if they will not reveal them. From time to time a great werewolf Thû in disguise comes and devours one of the companions. …at last only Felagund and Beren remain. It is Beren's turn to be devoured…"

and in another draft,

"They go and seek to break into Angband disguised as Orcs, but are captured and set in chains, and killed one by one. Beren lies wondering which will be his turn. by the Lord of Wolves, and set in bonds, and devoured one by one."

The combination of these facts, one positive, one subtractive — the removal of the line which states that he wondered when his own time would come — strongly indicates that it was no accident that Beren outlives the Ten. The idea of a form of lot-casting, for fairness, follows from that not unnaturally; the idea of a verbal form comes from the technical difficulties of drawing lots while immobilized and in complete darkness, and the fact that in the Elvish languages, as in many earthly ones, the same characters were used for numbers as for letters. And, of course, a system that works by the choosing of letters whose order of precedence depends on a word as yet unannounced by the leader could be foiled by someone able to guess, or know, what that word was going to be.

 

 Beren's complaint about the seeming-uselessness of everything when the end result of all good intentions and works is the same defeat and destruction is a very trenchant one, and not unrelated to the objection put forward by the Lord of the Halls to his own King as related in Silm., "Of the Sun and Moon," when the idea that good may ultimately result from it is put forward in answer.

 

The interactions between Finarfin and the Captain reflect the problem that all the Noldor had lives before, and knew each other, and not only marriages and families would have been broken in the Flight, but also friendships and working relationships — so, now what? It should be pretty clear now that for the most part, the Host of the Noldor were a bunch of rebellious young kids who ran away to sea to seek their fortunes, even if they thought they were completely competent and quite able to take care of themselves, in any situation they might encounter. And to a large degree they did, and were, and to a greater degree they weren't, and trying to establish a new set of ground rules and boundaries for all of them in their interactions now would, I think, be one heck of a challenge.

 

 Enedrion: this is the name given to the foremost follower who insists that a successor must be publicly acclaimed before their exile from Nargothrond in the Grey Annals, where elsewhere the name Edrahil is given, the latter being the form which Christopher Tolkien went with for the published version of Silm. I am not being merely equivocal in my Elvish answer of "yes" to the question of which one is correct: following the form established for naming conventions, Enedrion is a patronym, not a proper name, so both may be quite true. Enedrion itself seems as if it must derive back to Enedir, which breaks down to something like "the world's brightness," but this is only a conjecture on my part, for the purpose of more easily illustrating the prior, present, and changing social situations in post-cataclysm Aman.

 

 Edrahil's making a virtue of necessity and putting a different cast on the strictures of Mandos (which are based in part on the old idea that the summoned dead must speak the truth) to take the moral high ground against Finarfin in their clash is technically called "mental reservation," and is the reason why witnesses in court are adjured to tell "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." (Emphasis mine.) How far this form of ommiting can be stretched in various circumstances while remaining within ethical bounds is a matter for much debate, revolving around motivation and the moral authority of the questioner; the advisability of doing so is a different problem entirely.

 

Araman: "Above-Aman," that region of sub-arctic tundra where the marching Host of the Noldor and the accompanying Fëanorians aboard the surviving ships were told to cease-and-desist and return to face justice for the Kinslaying, by it is believed, the Doomsman himself, speaking for Manwë. (Silm., "Of the Flight of the Noldor.") The fact that there is some doubt about this is also interesting. Finarfin turned back, with a minority of his followers; the rest continued, with Finrod and Galadriel emerging as the de facto leaders of the March.

 

 Nerdanel: this Noldor lady, coming from a high lineage in her own right, her family being distinguished for its close connections with Aulë (as well as their unique auburn hair), is one of the more tragic characters in this series of "dark and difficult legends." Fëanor her husband studied with her father, the master-smith Mahtan; she was an sculptress equally capable of extreme realism and flights of abstract art. They had seven children, the largest known family among the Eldar, to whom "she bequeathed her mood" only in part, and only to some, they taking after their father for the rest, unfortunately for the world. We are told that she was wise, and the only person who could reach Fëanor and get through to him to make him see sense in his paranoia — but that eventually he stopped listening to her as well, something which would appear to correlate with his increasing attentiveness to then-Melkor.

She, however, unlike the vast majority of the Noldor, was not swayed by his charisma against her better judgment and when he stopped heeding her counsel, she went her own ways. Even before their separation, this independence was demonstrated in her friendship with her husband's step-mother, a sign of open-mindedness as well as autonomy, (but which undoubtedly made Finwë's son conclude that everyone was out to get him, that his father's second wife had succeeded in taking even his own wife's loyalty away from him — instead of judging, as a reasonable person would, that perhaps since even Nerdanel liked her, Indis might not be a totally worthless person after all.) After the Flight of the Noldor, Nerdanel moved in with her mother-in-law, and that is the situation which we find at present.

She is also possessed of a certain degree of the Sight, and while trying to convince Fëanor to leave at least the two youngest children behind, while he in turn dared her to prove her love for the family by joining them in the Flight, warned him that one of them at least would never make it to Middle-earth regardless — which foretelling is borne out in the story that their youngst son was sleeping on board the ships from homesickness when Fëanor burned them to prevent defections and forestall any chance of competition from his other relatives in Middle-earth.

So I have tried to show her as wise, independent-minded, indomitable, and an artist/technocrat, as she is described in the various source texts — "firm of will, but more patient than Fëanor, desiring to understand minds rather than to master them" — and someone with a tremendous burden of sorrow, who still keeps going and uses her own experiences to help her in that quest to understand others (which is a significant component of wisdom, after all.)

Her presence comes from the need to have a foil worthy to match words with Finrod from among those who remained behind, but not as closely or as personally tied to him, with the attendant emotional complications — obviously, it would not be possible to find anyone among the great houses of the Eldar with no connections to the Finarfinions! That is, she can say things that Finarfin and Amarië can't, won't, or won't say without a discrediting overlay of resentment and anger.

 

 heresy: this is a reference to the cosmic reinterpretation of existence which occurs to Finrod in, as he believes it to be, a prophetic vision of the Eschaton, as related in the "Athrabeth" (of which more later) — and since it goes directly against everything previously believed by the Eldar about their own limited nature and confinement to the Circles of the World, both in dimension and duration, for the existence of Arda, and since it's being put forward by someone whose standing is dubious at best, I can't imagine it would be particularly well-received, especially at first — but by the same token, it would certainly be highly-controversial in the time before people in Valinor at least became used to the notion enough to include it as a possible alternative in "Ainulindalë," where it appears in the following lines (emphasis mine):

"Never since have the Ainur made any music like to this music, though it has been said that a greater still shall be made before Ilúvatar by the choirs of the Ainur and the Children of Ilúvatar after the end of days.Then the themes of Ilúvatar shall be played aright, and take Being in the moment of their utterance, for all shall then understand fully his intent in their part, and each shall know the comprehension of each, and Ilúvatar shall give to their thoughts the secret fire, being well pleased."

There, in a nutshell, is the entire notion of Arda Envinyanta, the idea that the universe will be made new again, and the still-more radical notion that all the Children will help by contributing in its creation, not just the celestial demiurges. That phrase "though it has been said" when examined carefully reveals one thing and raises the question of another: that the scribe setting down their mythology in the "Ainulindalë" had some doubts about the matter, personally — and who, exactly, was it who was saying this, now? Working "within the fiction," I can imagine Pengolod going over the traditions and writings of Rumil, and thinking to himself in some great library in Tirion, "It all seems so very orderly and rational…but then there are those strange ideas that Turgon's cousin has put forward, which also sound so compelling when you hear him. Of course he's quite mad, but…"

"—Yes, but I'm right, too" says Finrod genially, replacing a borrowed scroll. And the scribe shakes his head, and keeps writing… (The idea that complete, unrestricted communication is at least in part the key to universal peace and harmony also should not be too surprising, given The Professor's great love of languages.)

 

Act 4: SCENE III.vii

 

launching the Sun: the processes by which Aulë and his followers, Eldar and Ainur, built the celestial orbiters out of the remnants of the Trees' life-energies and got them airborne (a process which some texts suggest took several of what would be later reckoned as years, which is not entirely unreasonable for getting a space-program going from scratch, even for demiurges) is literally unimaginable and at the same time intriguing beyond description — and must have been an incredibly fraught process, given that there wasn't any alternative to fall back on, if they blew it. The passages which describe that first lift-off, even seen from a vast distance, and its potent results, are among the grandest in the whole mythos.

 

Act 4: SCENE III.viii

 

"traditional methods" — these being of course riddles, chess (or dice) matches, and three questions, all of which are fraught and not exactly the sort of information-sources one can well rely on.

Couplesday, sixes: I wanted to point out several facts here: that on the one hand some Mannish culture and traditions survived, even after the Edain were so long and greatly influenced by the Eldar, and that on the other hand such basic things as counting systems and words for reckoning can indicate cultural differences. Beren, being not only mortal but Bëoring, which is to say, belonging to the tribe "most like to" the High-elves in thought, is actually fairly flexible in his thinking, as well as possessed of a very Elvish curiosity, however untrained and rustic his mind may be, due to the disadvantages of his civilization getting obliterated in his youth. (The exact words are "eager of mind, cunning-handed, swift in understanding, long in memory, and moved sooner to pity than laughter" — Silm., "Of the Coming of Men Into the West.") He can step outside, to a great extent, his own limited experience, and consider it, and others, abstractly — which will come to the fore as the Act unfolds.

Another thing to consider is the distilling or filtering effect which the accidents of history have in what words and systems become common usage, and which are forgotten or left behind. One thing which must have been the case is that a different set of names for the days of the week would have been used before the Darkening, as the current Elvish system used in one form or another throughout Middle-earth reflects that event, memorializing the Trees in their own day, and commemorating the Sun and Moon in others. And, in fact, poking about in the Etymologies (HOME:LR) proves this to be true. "Couplesday" was the day dedicated, interestingly enough, Aulë and Yavanna, as joint patrons of matrimony. (This makes me wonder if they were perhaps the first of the Valar to pair off, while the two most powerful brothers were both courting Varda and Tulkas was still a nobody.)

However, in the First Age, and especially given the separation of the different fiefdoms and domains across Beleriand, it is entirely possible that some of the Noldor would have continued to use the old calendar, and that the new system developed slowly — or even that it was a Valinorean creation of the Eldar there, and only brought to Middle-earth in after years. Or it might well have been, given the progress of events, the one in use in Gondolin, which through its peculiar mix of colonists, their preservation of Quenya lore, and the subsequent consolidation of the surviving refugee populations under the predominance of its ruling family, had a strong and lasting influence on the cultures which followed in Middle-earth. Just as the months and day-names we use today are similar to, and related to, those used in Roman times, but not identical, it's possible that the systems Beren was familiar with were not the same as those employed in the Second and Third Ages, either.

 

salt: the equation of that mineral and honesty — often unwelcome — is to be found elsewhere than in the New Testament: it shows up, for instance, in the folk version of King Lear (happy ending) where the virtuous princess compares her filial piety not, as her sisters do, to honey or expensive spices, but to the humble, bitter-tasting condiment. This refusal to play the game of course wins her only exile, a fate which is karmically returned upon her unwise parent. When at long last her impoverished father arrives on the doorstep of the kingdom her wisdom and goodness have won for her, she commands the household to prepare every dish without salt. When he complains about the revolting blandness of it, and comments on the need for something to give the meal savour, the recognition of both the value of directness and the survival of his faithful daughter overwhelm the old, exiled king in a very emotional reunion.

 

Act 4: SCENE III.ix

 

Finarfin learning the complete story of his son's Doom only now does not only serve as a source of angst and emotional drama, but is intended to point up not only the questions of communication, and whence information, and when — but also how much any decision, action, and speech is founded in that present, limited knowledge, and how it may take on new, possibly horrifying, significance in the light of subsequent revelations.

 

Act 4: SCENE III.x

 

Aredhel & Eöl: if Saeros/Orgof, provoking Turin from malice, was due many centuries in Mandos to reflect and grow beyond his arrogance (LB, "The Lay of the Children of Húrin," Canto I ) then certainly Eöl would merit no less. Aredhel is of course under the Doom of the Noldor. What the two of them would have been doing over the past decades, and if they would have made any psychological progress or not, is anyone's guess.

 

 galvorn: the black alloy that Eöl invented and used for his own special lightweight suit of armor (Silmarillion, "Of Maeglin") — which, however, did not protect him from the vengeance of his wife's kinsmen after her killing. (It is amusing, but not particularly likely, to think that it might have been an early form of kevlar.)

 

Kinslayer: it is again mere conjecture that Aredhel was also (like Fingon) in the forefront, and joined in the attack on Alqualondë out of a misconception that the Teleri had attacked first (hence the lines "tragic misunderstanding"); but I have based it on her documented long-standing friendship and spiritual affinity for the sons of Fëanor, principally Curufin and Celegorm.

 

armour: this is yet another dual reference, to Aredhel's fate, daring to face down her alienated spouse without any protection other than injured dignity and righteous wrath, and the presence of guards, none of which are sufficient to cope with the suicidally-violent (as retold in Silm., "Of Maeglin,") — and to LOTR:FOTR, "The Ring Goes South," with Bilbo's giving of his mithril vest to Frodo, to be worn secretly under the outer garments, thereby saving the life of the wearer.

 

The Captain's remark concerning the making of weapons in secret refers to the events related in Silm., "Of the Silmarils," where it is told that:

"…when Melkor saw these lies were smouldering, and that pride and anger were awake among the Noldor, he spoke to them concerning weapons; and in that time the Noldor began the smithying of swords and axes and spears. Shields also they made displaying the tokens of many houses and kindreds that vied with one another; and these only they wore abroad, and of other weapons they did not speak, for each believed that he alone had received the warning. And Fëanor made a secret forge, of which not even Melkor was aware, and there he tempered fell swords for himself and for his sons, and made tall helms with plumes of red. Bitterly did Mahtan rue the day when he taught to the husband of Nerdanel all the lore of metlawork that he had learned of Aulë."

 

threnody: a sad or melancholy song; a dirge. This and similar obscure musical terms are a semi-humorous answer to the question of what the gods might swear by.

 

 "avenged upon the lot of you" — an ObRef to Twelfth Night, where a humorless control-freak is made the target of an elaborate comic revenge plot, and vows at the end to get his own back as he storms off in high-dudgeon. 

The idea that the more-warlike Powers might practice fighting to keep up their skills and in hopes of a rematch with Morgoth and his minions, however unlikely such a chance might seem to them at present, doesn't seem too far-fetched to me. There is, however, a world of difference between being champion of the All-Valinor Valarin Fencing Club and having successfully fought for one's life — and others — for over four centuries.

 

 Ringil: the name of Fingolfin's blade is found first in LL1, Canto XII:

"Fingolfin like a shooting light
beneath a cloud, a stab of white,
sprang then aside, and Ringil drew
like ice that gleameth cold and blue,
his sword devised of elvish skill
to pierce the flesh with deadly chill.
With seven wounds it rent his foe,
and seven mighty cries of woe
rang in the mountains…"

in which it is also told that Grond was the name of Morgoth's mace, the war-hammer of the underworld — a name that will infamously return to haunt Middle-earth again. (It is, I should say, a signal of how much superior the technology of First Age Noldor artisans was to subsequent levels of smithing, that the High King's weapon is recorded as having wounded Morgoth eight times, (on the final stroke permanently laming him), without losing its strength, whereas the Númenórean blade wielded against the Captain of the Nazgûl dissolves on contact with the Ringwraith, as Aragorn indeed had warned would happen should such a stroke occur.)

 

 "By your Lady" — in keeping with the swashbuckling theme, a turn on the medieval exclamation frequently encountered in the old Robin Hood stories, "By'r [Our] Lady," adapted for Arda.

 

"Endless Whirlwind" — a Dante ObRef, to the circle outside the Inferno proper, where the traveler meets famous lovers from history who destroyed themselves for the sake of each other, there swept in a continuous tumult like leaves on the wind, always together and never at rest.

 

Act 4: SCENE IV

 

The conflicts, large and little, which are apparent or implicit in the Geste are all stated and expounded in this Scene, and given context, hence its length.

 

Act 4: SCENE IV.i

 

Gower's words invoke not only the frequent references to truth vs. "sooth" in Shakespeare's writings, and the difficult valuing of honesty and directness set against the popularity of flattery, and the ease of self-deception ("When my love swears that she is made of truth/I do believe her, though I know she lies…") but also revelations of the devastating kind (often inadvertently-so) like the final words of Mablung to Túrin which moved the latter to self-execution.

"our beer it is brown": this Yuletide carol is the "Gloucestershire Wassail," which is datable back to the 1700s but in melodic feel sounds much older to me, due to its smooth linear progressions and mellow intervals, which resemble those of prior centuries like "Lo How A Rose E'erblooming" and "Of the Father's Love Begotten" rather than the popular music of the 18th. Each of its many verses hails another member of the landholder's household — even the four-legged ones. (This is, after all, a drinking-song foremost.)

 

Lines 1096 - 1103 of LL1 suggest, though allowing room for dispute, that the Ring given to Beren's father was originally made by Finrod's own father, though it is possible that "the badge…that Felagund his son now bore" only refers to the heraldic device, (of the pair of emerald-eyed golden snakes eating a crown of flowers) and not to the signet itself.

 

Act 4: SCENE IV.iii

 

There's only one canonical, named, Silm. character this can logically be. Do not worry if you can't guess it, everything will be made clear by the end of the play.

 

Act 4: SCENE IV.iv

 

Chess-playing kings staying up late in the old stories (and occasionally gambling away vast fortunes, or worse, on the outcome of the match) make it clear that Solitaire and its variants would have been welcomed in former centuries.

 

 The story of the forgery of the brooch reflects my thought that it is plausible that there were early forays of Easterling entrepreneurs — traveling traders, explorers looking for resources of various sorts — to bring back the news of those wealthy countries beyond the mountains which lured more enterprising colonists to follow once the political disarray of the hot-war made for likely opportunities.

 

Clearly Huan is one of those "spirits" Manwë reminds Yavanna of in Silm., "Of Aulë and Yavanna," who will come to Arda belatedly from the Timeless Halls (as did Tulkas, remember!) for love, not to do evil, summoned by her thoughts when the time is ripe, to go among the kelvar and olvar and act as guiding forces — and even choose to "dwell therein, and be held in reverence, and their just anger shall be feared." (There are strong indications that Shadowfax, in LOTR, is one also, as it is definitely stated the Eagles are.) But there is no indication that anyone — certainly not his former master Celegorm — fully realizes this during most of his life. (There are still those who dispute this, and Huan's importance to the mythos. All I have to say to that is — count up the number of similarities between what Huan does, and what Gandalf does, and then decide if it's mere coincidence.)

 

Technically the Seneschal of Formenos might also be speaking in an antiquated dialect, having been offed even before the Feast of Reuniting, (by which point everyone was speaking Sindarin as the "lingua franca" of Beleriand, Silm., "Of the Return of the Noldor") but for dramatic simplicity I chose not to do so; presumably, being very image-conscious, and having been there quite some time, he would equally quickly have adapted his manners to those of newer arrivals so as not to seem out of date or identified with the ancien regime.

—I have included these "extras" for the simple reason that someone very like them must have been there, given the enormously high casualties taken in Beleriand by the Noldor, and their chronological and demographic distribution. Not only does their presence add an element of conflict, but furthermore a firsthand presentation of different perspectives, untempered by the regrets and allegiances of the retellers.

 

ruel: the word is an antiquarian's in-joke, so to speak: it word comes up in the Middle-English usage "ruel-bone," and is employed by Tolkien as well. In the original contexts as well as later usage, it means some kind of ivory, but what kind no one is quite sure of. Because of the suggestive similarity between "ruel" and "rowel" in sound, meaning twisted, I tend to think of it as narwhal horn, which was a valuable commodity provided by Scandinavian mariners to continental Europe in the Middle Ages. Thus my conceit of the mysterious animal "ruel" as unicorns, — and thus solving the question of why they are not in Middle-earth: they are among those creatures never seen outside Valinor, (Silm., "Of Eldamar") though there might have been a perished population of them naturalized on Númenor as well. (And yes, wart-hogs are quite friendly and sociable animals and their keepers become very fond of them in zoos.)

 

 Fëanor made the Silmarils in secret, not asking permission of even Yavanna before seeking to preserve and contain the Light of the Trees in some indestructible format — but his work was approved afterwards upon their revelation. (Silmarillion, "Of the Silmarils.") This did not stop him from hoarding them, dragon-like, or coming to regard them as exclusively and originally "his."

 

 The question of past and future livelihoods reflects very real problems for those coming back from some long, life-changing experience, whether it be war, hospitalization, or anything else, which would not be fundamentally all that much different even in Valinor. The issues — new, old, and complicated — are going to be there, and must be dealt with. Or, as a much later hero would shrewdly put it, talking of happy endings and characters in the old tales, "And where will they live? That's what I often wonder." (LOTR:FOTR, "The Ring Goes South.")

 

"conniptions" — the native languages of the Edain are rather strange and abrupt and not "Middle-earthlike" at first glance, though deep digging into the etymologies and a more structural look at them reveals the root similarities. I've used this peculiar folk idiom to stand in place of the lost Taliska expression for throwing a fit…

 

Manir & Suruli: these spirits of air, like those who inhabit water, Maiar who dwell in the skies or oceans, reveal similarities in their nature to the kami of traditional Asian animism as well as to the sylphs, nymphs and water-gods of classical mythology. (Lúthien's dancing before Morgoth is said to have excelled that of the dancers of the air of the court on Taniquetil, which also brings to mind the Hindu mythos' apsaras, the sylphlike maidens of the heavens.) We also meet one of them in LOTR:FOTR, who comes to the rescue when invoked by those who have the right to do so — the river Bruinen. Since it seems that the Powers, greater and lesser, who inhabit these elements take their shape from them when they choose to manifest their consciousness in a visible and tangible form, the problem of being dead — and what that means among people who don't normally necessarily have bodies — gets sort of complicated in Arda.

Gamma's Note: Althought the Philosopher didn't mention it, I rather suspect we have met three of these spirits. The river Bruinen, of course, as mentioned above and also, it is implied we have met others. The Sirion is also implied to have such a spirit, given how vital to Morgoth's cause Sauron's fouling of those waters seems to be.

 

The aesthetics discussion is not really implausible, given the nature of the participants. (Even in our world, and as late as WWII, Prof. Tolkien was called upon by a British officer who was a participant in a heated debate (upon which some significant mess-room bet was riding) to solve the question as to the correct pronunciation of the 18th-century poet Cowper's last name.)

 

Act 4: SCENE IV.vi

 

The Sea-Mew has been part of the story, as a ghostly presence (so to speak) since Act II was begun. She is, of course, the one obliquely referred to in the exchange re farewells between Finrod and Edrahil after the Council and coup; as a member of Olwë's tribe her situation allows for a not-entirely-disinterested outsider's perspective on the dynastic struggles of the House of Finwë. I meant for her to provide a reminder of the kinship connections between the three clans of the Eldar, and to illustrate the problems of division and strife which far predated the Kinslaying and attitudes which so ably were exploited by Melkor which allowed that event to happen. I also was strongly caught by the idea of someone not knowing that a loved one had been caught up in the Kinslaying until their reunion in the Halls of Mandos, and the theme of good intentions rendered meaningless which is summed up so powerfully in the line, "all good deeds were made in vain," through the undercutting of Edrahil's spiritual renunciation and selflessness in assuming her to be happy — and better-off — without him, forever, by that revelation.

Quite late in the day, I realized that I had created an OFC who also happens to be the romantic interest of a canon character…! (And now yet another layer of significance is added to the word-game towards the end of Scene II.)

 

 The documented envy of the Secondborn aroused by Melkor in the Noldor plays a significant role throughout this scene —as it did in the history of the Eldar. More on this later.

 

Beren's blaming himself for everything both follows from his self-castigating remarks in the Lay fragments, and is a response to the criticisms made by readers on Usenet and elsewhere in this vein — Really? All right then, let's take this to its logical extreme…

 

Act 4: SCENE IV.vii

 

This section incorporates a small homage to Fabergé, whose studios managed to create both the tacky and the sublime, not infrequently combining both into the tackily sublime (or sublimely tacky), such as the comic or realistic animals crafted from the precise shades of gemstones to match their natural coloring.

 

Act 4: SCENE IV.viii

 

Helka & Ringil were the two pillars of the original Lamps, sometimes described as being made of ice, which Melkor subverted and destroyed after successfully infiltrating Arda during the distractions of Tulkas and Nessa's wedding party. This fact gives Fingolfin's crystal sword the nature of a sacred symbol, named in honor of that long-destroyed supporter of Light. (However, they are also described in terms which make it seem as if they were mountains. Before trying to determine which they were — and I am not being mischievously Elvish here merely — one has to consider the question of what matter would vessels containing enough energy to both light a continent, and to destroy vast sections of it when released by catastrophic failure, be constructed of — let alone be supported on, when created by godlike beings of superhuman intelligence and ability capable of "singing" a material universe out of nonbeing and potentiality into physical actuality? It's likely the answer would be as incomprehensible to us as the first alien description of a functioning hyperdrive will be:    "All composed of supercooling micro-accelerated particulate fields with a reversed matrix of indented parallel wavelengths, see?"    "—Ah. Yes. Of course." —It works by magic—really advanced magic…

 

Beren endeavoring to tell Finarfin what his kids have been up to is not included merely for humorous effect, but also to point up the sheer magnitude of the task, and the difficulty of trying to convey events to someone interested in them, when both parties have only partial knowledge of both the circumstances and the players, and no direct experience of the events at all.

 

"Going to stake out a realm" — a not-so-kind reference to their shared pasts as would-be colonists in Beleriand and the hubris of the Noldor invoked as well as inflamed by Fëanor's rousing words after the Treeslaying.

 

"Fly pride, quoth the peacock" — ObRef to The Comedy of Errors, an exquisite farce rife with mistaken identity, verbal and physical humour, and rhyme. This expression is the equivalent of "the pot calling the kettle black," due to the legendary vanity of peafowl — which has some basis in observed fact, as it is possible to keep peacocks in the open but in a central area by hanging a mirror outside: the males spend inordinate amounts of time displaying before this tireless rival, just as Siamese fighting fish will.

 

The tall and beautiful Nürnburg-style harps often seen in medieval art are, according to archaeologists, fairly fragile, extant examples of the instrument often showing breaks in the neck that were repaired in its original useful lifetime. Edrahil's travel-harp should be imagined more like the Irish harps, such as the one famously called Brian Boru's. Aegnor is playing nastily on old insecurities, in a reversal of the usual direction of snobbery, invoking the superior innate talents of the Sea-taught Teler at music, versus the Noldor skill at the "objective" arts of metal and stone working.

 

That there was strong friendship as well as kinship between the two sets of brothers is attested in "The Quenta," HOME: Shaping, where it is remarked that Angrod and Aegnor were close friends with the sons of Fëanor (and not merely in agreement with their father about the Return.) Moreover, if Angrod and Aegnor were friends and longtime neighbors with Celegorm and Curufin, both in Aman and in East Beleriand, Aegnor is bound to have known Huan pretty well. And vice versa.

 

The incidents, er, surrounding the fountain hearken back to the discussion in Act II regarding mortal forms of humour before the Council. The constant references to water, and employment of it for various purposes, have a deeper meaning (sorry!) and while on the one hand reflecting simply geology and personal experience — I live in a land of old mountains and bedrock, and driving along the road it is possible to see the fresh water welling through and pouring down the surfaces of the granite cliffs, (which in the winter form most dramatic columns and sheets of ice) and every quarry becomes a tarn without constant pumping-out, because the water is there beneath the earth and must come through somehow — it also refers to the water-symbolism omnipresent in the Arda mythos and the immense (though hidden, patient, and subversive) power of the Lord of the Deeps.

 

Regarding Beren's challenge to Aegnor not to walk away from their issues — avoidance does seem to be a hallmark of the Exiles' way of dealing with things, given events both subsequent and prior.

 

 "Tree toads" — an ObRef to some actual Fabergé artworks, crafted of gemstones. (This Russian art history site has a photograph of one of the Fabergé flowers, a life-size pheasant's-eye narcissus set in a vase of rock-crystal, filled with rock-crystal water.)

 

 "Thargelion" — the joking about "mountain passes" and "rolling countryside" derives from the following Elvish linguistic associations: súma: hollow concavity, bosom, i.e., cleavage; the equation of territorial elevations with female breasts transcends culture and language (as seen in the range from Scotland, "The Paps," to the New World's "Uncanoonuc," which by local legend memorializes an ancient Abnaki noblewoman) so I have extended the parallel to Elven cultures as well. (But without the attendant human self-consciousness.)

palúre: the surface of the land, as in the expression "the bosom of the earth" (equated with the English root "fold" as in Westfold) and the source of an alternate name of Yavanna, Palúrien.

 

"Rank hath its privilege," always stated in such archaic form, is a saying eternally current to describe the inequities of the military, though a modern acronym has of course been constructed from it, RHIP. I have no idea how old it is or what the original source: like Greensleeves, it's always referred to as just "old."

 

"see," "perceive" etc. — there is a technical problem for metaphysicians in the fact that the words we are obliged to use to describe non-physical situations, and which are used universally so far as I can tell, regardless of language, all come from physical situations. "Understand," "back up," "past," "grasp" — all of these terms with their directional or action sources, are used by analogy — yet so automatically that this fact can be itself difficult to realize. Given that we are physical entities, cannot be otherwise, and the signal lack of success of projects in the past century to create new philosophical languages devoid of any confusion or overlapping of terms, I suspect this is inherent to corporeal sentients (though of course this cannot be checked until we encounter an alien sentient race similar enough for us to communicate with) — but would not be the natural case for a group of naturally-immaterial telepathic entities for whom even language is a makeshift invention used for dealing with the material world and the corporeal creatures who inhabit it.

 

 Both the equine and canine dragging of logs comes from Primary World experiences, both firsthand and secondhand. (It could be that I've only known some very eccentric horses, but several people have recounted tales of dogs mysteriously drawn to hauling objects nearly as large as themselves, apparently for the sheer challenge of it. James Thurber, American humorist and dog lover, had one who tried to bring home abandoned furniture found in alleyways — in the middle of the night, naturally!)

 

The world of espionage, and how much of it depends on not standing out, and as well on the fact that people generally don't tend to question, or even to notice things, that are outside their own interests, is quite fascinating — as are the small, dumb little things that historically have given away agents, many of which seem due more to chance (favorable or evil, depending on one's perspective) than to any systematic investigative or watch efforts. Former agent John LeCarre does a good job of conveying this in his novels, but other examples from the news include the story of the Zimmerman Telegraph in WWI, the use of the Brompton Oratory (a High Baroque church in London) as a drop-point for microfilms in the late 1980s, and pop singer Josephine Baker's experiences working for the Resistance in WWII.

 

"small people" — I do hope that all readers would have guessed who the Apprentice is by now! More on his presence later — but recall that it is said in Silm. that he learned patience and pity of Nienna, — who in turn is said to spend most of her time counselling the inhabitants of the Halls of Mandos.

 

 Edain: "Now Atani, the Second People, was the name given to Men in Valinor in the lore that told of their coming; but in the speech of Beleriand that name became Edain, and it was there used only of the three kindreds of the Elf-friends." (Silm., "Of The Coming of Men into the West.")

 

"wanted to be an Eagle" — not only an ObRef to later events, but intended to point up both the striking affinity of all three independent Immortal agents: both Huan in the First Age and Mithrandir in the Third work together with the Lords of the Eagles in their complicated efforts to influence the destiny of Arda for the better. (It also is a play on the not-uncommon wistful imaginings of being a fighter pilot or pioneering aviator, which (as C.S. Lewis once used in analogy) is very different in reality from the romantic ideas of it. Thorondor and his family also have jobs to do, as well as lives to lead, and despite being autonomous in the field, can't simply give up their duties of trying to watch Morgoth's activities, watch over Gondolin, and report back to Taniquetil in order to go exploring somewhere off south, say.)

It also serves to point up the fact that the Ainur chose what they were going to be in Arda, and when they were going to join in. Not everyone was interested in making Eä at once, and not everyone arrived at the same time once the world was made. The Ainur aren't regimented, despite the urges of fans to organize them so: the Timeless Halls aren't Orwellian in nature. Power and authority are fluid, and come as much from within as from any Eru-conferred roles. Recall (since "Ainulindalë" is a bit long to retype, I haven't put it all here, but I commend rereading it) that the only Valar whose status as such we actually see taking place in the story are Melkor and Tulkas, who end up exchanging places. Melkor opts out of a universe he can't control; Tulkas shows up out of nowhere, starts slugging, and becomes the new member of the core leadership group. The Song begins slowly, with a lot of "tuning-up" — that is, each Ainu must discover his or her own voice — and this takes place very slowly for some, and quicker for others, and it is never rushed by the One nor is self-knowledge forced on any of the Powers-to-be — and then from that, awareness of each other, and then the delight of small spontaneous jam sessions slowly grows into a comprehension of Music on a grand scale, and the potential for something really spectacular…

This is actually somewhat abridged from the original MS, which is available in HOME: Shaping, "The Quenta," and has a lot more of the interpersonality of the Ainur in the Before-Time worldbuilding. There it's remarked that Melkor's music was forceful, though chromatically dull, and had the effect of either drowning out the quieter voices or leading them to follow his dominant monotonous tune — in fact, the whole story is very resonant to anyone with any experience of playing in groups of various sizes. The idea of each performer learning to make his or her own music, not being forced into "the box", and this being the foundation for building the symphony, attuned to the strengths of the individual soloists, is idyllic and utopian, (though not impossible when considering celestials at play) but it also does reflect the reality of many successful groups whose sound is utterly unique and yet which changes over time as new members enter and old ones depart, and such spontaneity and individuality is also the hallmark of such folk groups as jazz ensembles, swing bands, Celtic and Cajun "sessions," medieval and renaissance consorts, and innumerable parallel ethnic traditions from around the world.

Except then there's a rebellion, and the woodwind section leader wants everyone to play his improvisation as if it were the only possible elaboration on the given line, and manages to convince most of the section to join in his vision of how the symphony should go, and gets a crew playing "Twinkles" very, very loudly on rackets (industrial-strength renaissance kazoos) — and whether you want to or not, it's very hard sometimes to stick with your own line if you have a loud, piercing voice right next to you, and especially if they tend to do the line wrong-but-easy…

I've also had the personal advantage of observing different conducting styles over the past dozen years, from the obsessed, manically-up-tight control freak whose band resembles nothing so much as a pen of deer-in-headlights trapped behind their music stands, to the completely indiscriminating, approving-of-everything leader who benignly waves the baton over a cacophony which the discerning audience, after much struggle, may finally be able to identify without recourse to the programme — to the generally laid-back, affirming director who makes sure the timid people get solos and aren't abandoned to finger silently or whisper for fear of making mistakes, and lets people improvise and brings those variations into the final version if they work with the piece as a whole, and doesn't leap all over someone who mangles a key phrase by accident — but doesn't hesitate to step in and address the issue when timing gets out of control or someone just won't stop adding in excessive tremolo after repeatedly being advised that it isn't appropriate to gargle on every note…and maybe gives that grand solo not to the metronome-perfect ten-year student, but to the two-year neophyte, still a little rough around the edges, a little uncertain, who leaps in with fiery enthusiasm and brings the piece to life.

 

Tirion: this brief portrait of the "present-day" capital of the Noldor derives from Silm., "Of Eldamar," and serves to remind the reader, as well as the characters, of that wider world out there, and the context of all actions, events, and personalities, even in Aman.

The symbolism of the odd task described is I hope obvious, and comes from two very different rituals I am aware of, on vastly-separate parts of this earth: the feast of Divali, in India, wherein tiny clay lamps, about 3 cm tall, are lit and placed along the edges of window-sills and rooftops, filling the towns with a warm golden glow far beyond what such a tiny flame would seem capable of generating, singly or in groups; and the kindling and exchanging of the Paschal flame in Roman rite Catholic churches during the Easter vigil. The style of the task, and all others implied or related, comes from the two mythic examples I am aware of in which a high-ranking female celestial has the tutelage of an earnest young male whose enthusiasm is not always equal to the study; one of which may be found in the Hebrew Scriptures, and the other in Chinese epic literature. (More on these parallels later.)

 

"witless and redeless" were Huan's actual words to Beren, as given in LL1, Canto XI, when he berates him for dashing off in this crazy, ill-advised way that is bound to get him killed, or worse.

 

The working-songs of Dorthonion are an idea inspired in part by the Scots Gaelic songs of this nature which I have heard sung, which like such songs all over the world are used to make easier and more mentally-interesting the boring repetetive tasks of agriculture and materials preparation, and also from the English tradition of change-bell ringing, in which complex mathematical patterns are played, and may be sung by the bell-ringers in practices or where bells are unavailable, and which ideally all return to the same original note simultaneously — something I've heard once for real, and a very eerie, impressive experience it was. (Change-ringing is prominently featured in what many consider to be Oxonian Dorothy Sayers' best mystery novel, The Nine Tailors.)

 

melisma: an ancient musical term meaning "honey-sweet," referring to a single syllable being run up and down across many notes. (A well-known example is the gloria refrain of the carol "Angels We Have Heard On High.")

 

Act 4: SCENE IV.ix

 

The question as to whether or not Lúthien could have messed with Beren's mind — and would have been so tempted — seems inevitable to me, given her efforts to convince him by lawful means…and the prior and subsequent events where her willpower and strength of purpose to protect Beren enabled her to befuddle and overwhelm a lesser demon, a greater demon, and the archfiend of Arda himself. The incentive is unquestionable, the ability equally so — put them together with Galadriel's words in Lórien concerning the difficulty of coercing and otherwise swaying minds, and the temptation to do so for the good of those individuals, and their shared familial history, and the question of the moral right to use "magic" to push people into doing the right and safe thing for their own sakes inevitably starts becoming something more than an abstract debate between friends and relatives late at night over the wine-cups on the terrace…

As to why she wouldn't have done so, despite inclinations and ability — see Act III for likely reasons.

 

Act 4: SCENE IV.x

 

Huan: the Lord of Dog's role, and his Doom as one of the Noldor by virtue of following the sons of Fëanor, is something that (quite evidently) has fascinated me — as noted before, I do not concur with Michael Martinez' stated belief that had Tolkien only done further revisions of the Geste, he would have made it less "fantastic," more "naturalistic," and done away with the figure of the giant talking dog. Not only is there no evidence of this — Huan being present from the outset and in each further revision gaining an expanded role rather than a reduced — but in a world where there are also giant talking demon-wolves, and giant talking seraphic eagles, and Green Men with sacred charges, and sentient horses, and sentient trees, one more non-humanoid sentient demi-divine character is not going to strain a belief already given to the Ardaverse. There are many, many parallels between Huan's role in the Geste and the deeds of Gandalf in the Third Age, beyond the fact that both of them are known as "grey"; the fact that there is a prophecy surrounding him makes him part of a grand tradition of doomed characters in our history as well as Arda's; and his particular fate, entangling him in the Doom of the Noldor, and the ethical dilemmas of his conflicted loyalties make him one of the great tragic heroes of the legend.

—Who just happens to be a dog as well.

One of the reasons I have made Huan so very doggish is that he is, even in the leadership role and narrow time frame in which we get to see him during the Geste. (This should not surprise, given the authentically-doggy personality of Garm, that canine Sancho Panza, in Farmer Giles of Ham.)  Throughout the Lay, Huan enjoys his work, hunting the Werewolves of the Enemy with a gusto and enthusiasm which owners of working animals (not simply hunting hounds) will well recognize; he is eager to do what he thinks should be done, as the comment in the Lay mentioned in the last Act notes, running ahead and looking back to see what's keeping his master; he is perceptive, which even ordinary dogs are, of the strains and stresses between his people, and easily depressed by it; but his affections are not given or withheld in accordance with his owner's priorities — also very canine behaviour. His creative interpretation of commands like "Stay!" is all too familiar to any dog-owner, and his protective behaviour and autonomous intelligence while in advance of, in very much in line with real experiences of Newfoundlands and other large, loyal breeds of dog told not simply in legend, like that of Gelert and the hound of Odysseus, but also in fact.

"You do not ride Shadowfax: he is willing to carry you — or not. If he is willing, that is enough. It is then his business to see that you remain on his back, unless you jump off into the air." (LOTR:TTT, "The Palantir")

There are also interesting parallels between Gandalf's steed, and the Lord of Dogs, who understands spoken language, and is so proud and unique that his carrying of Lúthien is a matter of some amazement in the chronicles, but nevertheless remains one of the kelvar in his daily life. Like the Lord of the Eagles, who is unashamedly a Large Bird of Prey who makes no bones about snacking on stray cattle when opportunity presents itself, despite the armed objections of their owners (The Hobbit), this nobler kinsman of Garm is also mirroanwë — a full incarnate, who abides by the rules of Earth even when he transcends them by virtue of his nature; and unlike Sauron he cannot "cheat" and escape death by morphing into another shape: every time he fights in defense of his friends is potentially the last time, until he meets his Wolf and walks that road alone. —Which is also not unlike the situation of a certain Maia in the distant future.

 

 Q-P shifts: one of the hallmarks of the linguistic changes wrought by time and geographical separation among the Eldar, this is in our world found in the different branches of Indo-European, and can be seen very clearly in the diverging words for "horse" where the Latin is "equus," the Greek "hippos" and the Celtic horse-goddess is named Epona.

Act 4: SCENE IV.xii

Thingol's Sight warning him against humans before the coming of the Secondborn and leading him to forbid entry to all mortals, even to Finrod's servants, is described in Silm., "Of the Coming of Men Into the West," — along with Melian's private prophecy to Galadriel that one of the Bëorings will do so regardless.

 

The problem of the Elves going to Valinor in the first place is a complicated one: Ulmo thinks it's a terrible idea, and his conviction is the Author's, as revealed both throughout the text in the embedded (if subtle) commentary and the outcomes of the decision to bring them to Aman — and "outside the fiction," in various letters of JRRT. But at the same time, hindsight is always perfect, and the reality of making decisions based on what is presently known and likely based on that known information and past experience is never simple. And the desire to keep keep children safe and prosperous, to help one's friends and loved ones, is in itself good — and fraught with perils. "Call no man happy until he is dead," was the Greek sage Solon's advice on trying to assess "success" in someone else's life, meaning that until the full story of someone's life has unfolded, what is a good situation and who is fortunate, or happy, cannot be determined from the outside. How many millionaires have looked "happy" until their bubble bursts, revealing fraud and crime, marital strife, spiritual emptiness and substance abuse?

In the same way, what is a "good" decision or an imprudent one, cannot always easily be decided without considering the circumstances at the time each judgment call is made. This too is presented by the Professor in the course of the story, and while readers tend to oversimplify, one recurring theme in Silm. is that every action has both good and bad consequences. (Like Finwë's remarriage, for one.) Consider one alternative history of Arda: the Powers return to Middle-earth and remain there with the Eldar. Morgoth comes up for parole, concealing his malice, and successfully incites division and rebellion among the Elves. When his misdeeds are exposed (in whatever form it should take in this timeline) and he flees, he doesn't have anywhere near as far to go, and all his secret stash of superweapons (i.e. Balrogs) are ready for instant recall to go up against the forces of the Ainur presently dwelling on this side of the Sea.

The War of Wrath takes place centuries earlier in a fully-inhabited Middle-earth, on the eastern side of the Blue Mountains, with the same havoc that previous battles between gods and demigods always result in, like stray mountain-ranges and sinking rifts, and the Eldar are for all intents and purposes wiped out — along with the Dwarves, and Men as yet unborn. Endor is split into two new continents, Beleriand to the West and  on the other side of a wide mediterranean sea, the remnant portion beyond the Misty Mountains, across which the handful of traumatized survivors are scattered. Eriador down to Isen no longer exists. The Gap of Rohan is the Gulf of Rohan leading up to Anduin, Fangorn an Everglades, Rohan a Camargue — except that there isn't any population left to give those areas names. All of civilization, and potential civilization, being in one restricted area, nothing of future history happens in any way resembling the known timeline of Arda. There's no Belegost, no Nogrod, no Long Peace, no Edain, no Gondolin — and no Aman as we know it; no cultural and material reserve to rebuild a Númenor after the Terrible Battle, so there's no Mordor, no Gondor, no Erebor, and also no Shire. Nothing happens as it would otherwise have unfolded.

—Would this have followed, if the Eldar had not removed in part to Valinor? No way of telling. Could it have happened? The maps say yes.

 

Remarks concerning the futility of keeping the future existence of the Secondborn classified forever are a reference to the alternate story of Galadriel's wishing to go East to explore even before the Darkening (UT), which whether considered apocryphal or not, is nevertheless in keeping with the long-standing tradition that Finrod, while not hungering for power and dominion, was nevertheless also lured by the thought of far-off lands to explore, and can be taken to indicate that such a return movement for benign reasons would eventually have come forward in Valinorean society, regardless of the Silmarils. The palantiri are of course one of the improvements in scrying technology mentioned in the argument. The non-release of this information, and its leakage by Melkor, was one of the main factors in creating the rift between the Noldor and the Valar (and everyone else in the world, ultimately.)

 

Act 4: SCENE IV.xiii

 

Storytelling: this scenelet is devoted to the problems of how and when does information get from one place to another, and what effect does it have on those who receive it. It doesn't just transmit itself, magically, though we tend to feel that way given the amount of uncredited, generalized information to which we are exposed from an early age through school and the media. But intelligence has to come from somewhere — or rather, someone — and at particular times, and through particular real routes, and it doesn't all arrive at the same rates, nor is it known to all persons everywhere at all instants, and in the same degrees, and the problems of bias are not simply that of ideology, but of perspective, access, and interests. This is on the one hand, the problem of history, and the honest historian, and on the other hand the problem of anyone who has to make command decisions in any area, based on what is currently known.

(It's also an homage to LOTR generally, and TTT, "Flotsam and Jetsam" specifically, where the telling of tales itself is as integral to the story as the recounting of the adventures themselves.)

 

 The idea that the years between Maedhros' capture and rescue by Fingon, a time of rivalry and strain between uneasy neighbors-across-the-lake, might have contained other efforts at negotiating with or spying on the Enemy is entirely mine (but the Noldor of the followings of Fingolfin and Finrod had to be actively pursuing any number of political options during that time in which they recuperated from the Crossing). However the fact that the Fëanorians' treaty was not attempted in good faith and that both sides meant to ambush the other and take hostages, but Morgoth sent the big guns and won, is a long-standing part of the Silmarillion, as is the fact that Turgon's group assimilated first and fastest into the native Sindar population.

(This, combined with his early removal from the general landscape of Beleriand had the interesting effect of making Gondolin bilingual when Quenya was banned in the world outside: the Noldor, Sindar and "Gray-Noldor" of his domain being already one united people, no special stigma was attached to the language of Aman, regardless of whether or not the news of Thingol's prohibition ever reached them before Aredhel's return. Which in turn had ramifications for the subsequent history of Middle-earth, in that there was a significant portion of those few who escaped the fall of Beleriand who possessed and were at ease with the ancient knowledge, thus aiding in preserving what little did survive and bequeathing it to Númenor.)

 

Doriath: I wished here to point up several things, one of them being the immense age and power of the forest, something that could be as daunting to Elves as to mortals, (recall that in LOTR:TTT, Legolas — a Wood-elf even — is intimidated somewhat by Fangorn) which is owing to the accellerated growth it receieved from the presence of one of the Powers of growth and healing. (Nan Elmoth's shadow and powers of holding also are attributable to the fact that it was the place where Melian stayed during her visit to Beleriand, and where for long years she and Elu Thingol stood lost in each other's dreams.) Another fact is that it was, indeed, a Long Peace — that we only see it by and large in the moments of crisis, for as the chroniclers of Silm. note, stories are most interesting when things are awful and chaotic. Another point is the parallel between Doriath in the First Age and before, and Lothlórien in the Third Age, both in its political role and function in the War, and in its internal arrangements. It's possible to add to the picture of Doriath at peace by studying the realm governed by those who learned ruling there — that is, the images of Lórien in LOTR:FOTR. (One element of which, it may be recalled, is the coming to flower of an unlikely friendship.)

 

Ingold: being Finrod's amilessë, or matronym, it's not impossible that he would be best known among his mother's people thus.

 

 Galad(h)riel: that her name, meaning "maiden crowned with a bright garland" & referring to her hair worn braided and pinned round her head to keep it out of her way during sports events, was a gift to her from Celeborn and that in this Sindarin form it was sometimes identified with the word for "trees" by her own people comes from UT. This punning equation would surely have occurred to a natural linguist, and an older sibling wouldn't be too daunted to make a joke out of it no matter how proud this youngest Prince of Finarfin's scions might be…

 

 Celeborn: the silver hair of Galadriel's husband described in LOTR:FOTR, "The Mirror of Galadriel", is a particular trait of Lúthien's father's family, one which he shares with Finrod's mother Eärwen, and comes to him through his grandfather Elmo, the brother of Elwë and Olwë about whom nothing else is recorded. (It is also said in HOME that Nimloth, who married the son of Beren and Lúthien and was also killed by the sons of Fëanor, was Celeborn's niece, the daughter of his brother Galathil.)

 

 When exactly did Galadriel and Celeborn leave Doriath and go East? No precise time-frame is ever given, and many readers assume that they were present during the events of the Geste and afterwards. I think this is implausible for a great many reasons, geopolitical and psychological as well as textual — and there is textual warrant for my supposition: she tells the Fellowship (LOTR:FOTR, "The Mirror of Galadriel") that they came to this part of Middle-earth "long" before the Cities of Beleriand fell. If Galadriel considers it a long time, it probably wasn't just a decade or two. And this makes sense given both the established story of the War, that they would have left during the Long Peace, not while east Beleriand was in chaos and being overrun, and their friends and relatives in danger, but would have gone on a well-equipped, well-prepared, sizeable expedition.

One indication of why (beyond, that is, the lure of distant far off lands and strange peoples which she shared canonically with her eldest sibling) is given in the varied sketches from UT, in which it is noted that they took a company, containing no small number of Noldor followers as well, beyond the mountains because it seemed to her dangerous to keep themselves penned up in the subcontinent, all one's eggs in one basket so to speak, and that they needed to spread out more: a forewarning of danger, vaguer than the ones her brother and cousin received, perhaps borne only of her own strategic understanding — but it's also certainly possible that she too received some form of message of her own while in Doriath. Ulmo was a particular friend of Thingol and Melian, and the Girdle was extended so as to enclose a section of Sirion within its boundaries, for the purpose of maintaining that contact between them. I don't say it did happen, but it could have.

 

 "magic" — if Galadriel, who has had a wide experience of the chaotic realm of Middle-earth crossing three Ages of the world, has a hard time determining in her own mind exactly what mortals are thinking of when they use the word, it's guaranteed to be even less comprehensible to the Valinorean Eldar. (It's also an opportune way for Beren to get a little of his own back in the verbal combat department, needling his friends about things they don't know how to begin to explain.)

 

"Green Throne" — this outdoor seat of authority reflects old stories of European kings holding court at the foot of oak trees, but Thingol's place of power is at the base of the tree traditionally sacred to the Lady.

"But Thingol marvelled, and he sent
for Dairon the piper, ere he went
and sat upon his mounded seat—
his grassy throne by the grey feet
of the Queen of Beeches, Hirilorn,
upon whose triple piers were borne
the mightiest vault of leaf and bough
from world's beginning until now.
She stood above Esgalduin's shore,
where long slopes fell beside the door,
the guarded gates, the portals stark
of the Thousand echoing Caverns dark."

These lines from LL1, Canto IV, herald Daeron's first betrayal, and Lúthien's first impassioned defense of Beren, as Thingol seeks to discover the reason behind the "spell of silence" that the great musician's jealousy has cast over Doriath. It is not, I think, coincidental that Oromë is mentioned in the lines which follow:

"Then Thingol said: 'O Dairon fair,
thou master of all musics rare,
O magic heart and wisdom wild
whose ear nor eye may be beguiled,
what omen doth this silence bear?
What horn afar upon the air,
what summons do the woods await?
Mayhap the Lord Tavros from his gate
and tree-propped halls, the forest god
rides his wild stallion golden-shod
amid the trumpets' tempest loud,
amid his green-clad hunters proud,
leaving his deer and friths divine
and emerald forests? Some faint sign
of his great onset may have come
upon the Western winds, and dumb
the woods now listen for a chase
that here once more shall thundering race
beneath the shade of mortal trees.
Would it were so! The Lands of Ease
hath Tavros left not many an age,
since Morgoth evil wars did wage,
since ruin fell upon the North
and the Gnomes unhappy wandered forth.
But if not he, who comes or what?'
And Dairon answered: 'He cometh not!
No feet divine shall leave that shore,
where the Shadowy Seas' last surges roar,
till many things be come to pass,
and many evils wrought. Alas!
the guest is here. The woods are still,
but wait not; for a marvel chill
them holds at the strange deeds
they see, but kings see not —
though queens, maybe, may guess,
and maidens, maybe know.
Where one went lonely two now go!"

Is it a coincidence that Thingol happens to wonder if it is Oromë's return which has caused this hush over the land — or that when he learns of a trespasser, demands,

"How walks he free within my woods amid my folk,
a stranger to both beech and oak?"

— when elsewhere these particular trees are named as Beren's comrades? It would take a much longer space than this to go into all the tree-symbolism, mythic archetypes and stories of Oak-Heroes and Kings of Summer and Winter that seem to play beneath the surface here.

 

 Melian: her innate power, and her adventurous and flamboyant nature are to be found in the source texts for Silm., in greater detail (if under different names) than in the published edition. In "The Tale of Tinúviel" (LT2), an Elf who knew her answers the question of what she was like in the following words:

'Slender, and very dark of hair,' said Vëannë, 'and her skin was white and pale, but her eyes shone and seemed deep, and she was clad in filmy garments most lovely yet of black, jet-spangled and girt with silver. If ever she sang, or if she danced, dreams and slumbers passed over your head and made it heavy…'…but now the song of Gwendeling's nightingales was the most beautiful music that Tinwelint had ever heard, and he strayed aside for a moment, as he thought, from the host, seeking in the dark trees whence it might come. And it is said that it was not a moment he hearkened, but many years, and vainly his people sought him, until at length they followed Oromë and were born upon Tol Eressëa far away, and he saw them never again. Yet after a while as it seemed to him he came upon Gwendeling lying in a bed of leaves gazing at the stars above her and hearkening also to her birds. Now Tinwelint steping softly stooped and looked upon her, thinking, "Lo, here is a fairer being even than the most beautiful of my folk" — for indeed Gwendeling was not elf or woman but of the children of the Gods; and bending further to touch a tress of her hair he snapped a twig with his foot. Then Gwendeling was up and away laughing just softly, sometimes singing distantly or dancing ever just before him, till a swoon of fragrant slumbers fell upon him and he fell face downward neath the trees and slept a very great while.'Now when he awoke he thought no more of his people…but desired only to see the twilight-lady; but she was not far, for she had remained nigh at hand and watched over him. More of their story I know not, O Eriol, save that in the end she became his wife…"

and also

"She dwelt in the gardens of Lórien, and among all his fair folk there were none more beautiful than she, nor more wise, nor more skilled in songs of magic and enchantment. It is told that the Gods would leave their business, and the birds of Valinor their mirth, that the bells of Valmar were silent, and the fountains ceased to flow, when at the mingling of the light Melian sang in the gardens of the God of dreams. Nightingales went always with her, and she taught them their song. She loved deep shadow, but she was akin, before the World was made, unto Yavanna, and often strayed from Valinor on long journey into the Higher Lands, and there she filled the silence of the dawning earth with her voice and with the voices of her birds.Thingol heard the song of the nightingales of Melian and a spell was laid upon him, and he forsook his folk, and was lost…" (HOME:LR, "Quenta Silmarillion.")

So we have an adventurous, independent, powerful-yet-mischievous demigoddess who wanders the dark corners of the world on her own until she meets the love of her Immortal life, the young chief of a primitive, newborn people, and goes off to tame a savage and dangerous land with him by her side… and doesn't know how to cope when their daughter takes after her parents. (I particularly like the image of Melian like a gypsy Queen, clad in sparkly transparent black dancing outfits, and the attendance of singing birds is an old Celtic attribute of divinity — Aengus is the most famous of the Celtic god-heroes, but there are others as well.)

She's a fascinating character, who like most epic figures raises more questions than are or can be ever answered, but it's intriguing to think about them. —What was she supposed to do, in Middle-earth, and what might have happened if she hadn't been so ambivalent about her daughter's destiny? (In one of the earliest rescensions, the second betrayal is not simply by Daeron (who is still her brother at this time) but partly accidental — Lúthien is trying to get her mother to help by pleading with Thingol to get an army together, after being told of Beren's captivity, and in one version she does help, but in the other Melian says — "No help wilt thou get therein of me, little one, for even if magic and destiny should bring thee safe out of that foolhardiness, yet should many and great things come thereof, and on some many sorrows, and my rede is that thou tell never thy father of thy desire" — just as the latter happens to be coming into the room, and says — Tell him what?

Which makes things so much worse that she wishes she'd never even talked to her mother; but — does Melian say this by accident, really, or not? And does she counsel Lúthien not to speak about it as advice to give up, or to do it on her own? All along, her role is strangely ambiguous — or is it? Your only daughter wants to go off and challenge your mortal enemy, the most powerful ruler in the known world, against whose defenses Elven armies have come to ruin, on behalf of someone who isn't going to stick around in this life or the next, and she wants your help to do it, and to take her side against your husband, and there are already strains in your relationship because of the situation …but on the other hand, there is your nature, your calling, the task you took up Ages ago to guard the Land, and the fact that by birth and training your daughter has a right to the name you gave her, Sorceress —

Some days it doesn't pay to get up in the morning, as the saying goes.

 

Daeron: His status as greatest of the three greatest musicians of the Eldar is found in the first Lay fragment, Canto III:

"…and when the stars began to shine,
unseen but near a piping woke,
and in the branches of an oak,
or seated on the beech-leaves brown,
Dairon the dark with ferny crown
played with bewildering wizard's art
music for breaking of the heart.
Such players there have only been
thrice in all Elfinesse, I ween:

Tinfang Gelion who still the moon
enchants on summer nights of June
and kindles the pale firstling star;
and he who harps upon the far
forgotten beaches and dark shores
where western foam forever roars,
Maglor, whose voice is like the sea;
and Dairon, mightiest of the three."

Maglor being of course the second of Fëanor's sons; I don't know anything about Tinfang Gelion (also known sometimes as Tinfang Warble) — neither ethnicity, place of origin, nor gender, nor even preferred instrument (though "Warble" would indicate vocalist primarily) — who always appears as one of the three foremost but who seems to have been lucky enough not to have gotten famous for anything else in history. (The status of Daeron and Tinfang in fact predates the inclusion (or final name) of Maglor, going back to the Tale of Tinúviel.)

 Gamma's Note:

Tinfang appears to date to one of the Professor's very earliest works- Old Tinfang Warble, playing on his flute with frost in his hair is not only poetic in sentiment, but carries certain descriptive phrases that appear to have later been re-issued for both Daeron and Tillion, helmsman of the Moon. LT1.

Oh the hoot, oh the hoot
How he trillups on his flute!
Oh the hoot of Tinfang Warble!

 

It was Tinfang Warble that was dancing there,
fluting and tossing his old white hair,
'Til it sparkled about him like a winter moon;
and the stars were about him and blazed in his tune.
Shimmering blue like sparks in a haze,
as always they shimmer and shake when he plays.

This may go some ways towards explaining his puzzling removal from the revised version of the Lay, leaving only Daeron and Maglor as equal players.

"No other player has there been
no ther lips of fingers seen
so skilled, 'tis said in elven-lore
save Maelor son of Fëanor,
forgotten harper, singer doomed
who young when Laurelin yet bloomed
to endless lamentation passed
and in the tombless sea was cast.

   But Daeron in his hearts delight
yet lived and played by starlit night..."

 Make of this what you will.

 

"absent friends" — in our continuum this is a traditional toast made in honor of dead comrades among military veterans; I employed this particular phrasing both because it is a memorable one and ambiguous in its unsentimentality (hence its appeal) and in hopes that the double appropriateness of it stemming from this association might possibly work its way into the reader's awareness, consciously or not; appropriate in this story, because the one who has occasioned it is also a casualty of the War, though unbeknownst to those who recall her overseas.

 

Elemmirë: a Vanyar Elf renowned for "The Lament for the Two Trees," about whom no more is known because this composer is evidently so famous as to be a household name in Valinor — and although the name endings aren't a 100% indicator of gender, known trends make it probable that the author of the "Aldudénië" is female, given the terminal -ë; "Elemmirë" (star-jewel) is also the name of an Arda constellation or first magnitude astral body.

 

Teler: that the third clan of the Eldar were reknowned for their musical ability particularly as well as for their affinity with water, having been taught by the Powers of the Sea, is present from far back in the development of the mythos. Perceptive readers may have discerned a compounding element of the romantic difficulties in this ethnically mixed couple in that fact.

 

Caranthir: this son of Fëanor, who has been mentioned (always with trepidation) now and again from Act II onward, is called the most grim and harsh of the seven (his name reflects the fact that his face was often red with anger, reflecting the darkness of his temper) and unlike his elder siblings is never said to have had any particular friendships with any of his cousins.

 

Impromptu horse-races among happy warriors on a journey are a Beowulf ObRef, like cups stolen from dragons' hoards…

 

 Philosophical battles over which arts and occupations are "nobler" go back as far as recorded argument, and undoubtedly long predate any written records, with carvers of mammoth ivory claiming that their work was better because it was more difficult than painting, and three-dimensional just like a real aurochs, and wall painters answering back that no, it was more of a challenge to make a flat surface look like an animal, and the flint knappers retorting to both of them that making good blades was the greatest art, because without it none of theirs would be possible…

 

 The fear of the Sea among the first two hosts of the Eldar is canonical, and attested in Silm., "Of the Coming of the Elves":

"At length the Vanyar and the Noldor came over Ered Luin, the Blue Mountains, between Eriador and the westernmost land of Middle-earth, which the Elves after named Beleriand, and the foremost companies passed over the Vale of Sirion and came down to the shores of the Great Sea between Drengist and the Bay of Balar. But when they beheld it great fear came upon them, and many of them withdrew into the woods and highlands of Beleriand…"

—As is Ulmo's continuing concern for all the Eldar, regardless of ethnicity, and efforts to help them throughout the course of the War.

 

 The First Age employment of the sorcerous equivalent of electrified restraints is attested in both the Lay of the Children of Hurin:

""Then hung they helpless    Húrin dauntless
in chains by fell    enchantments forged
that with fiery anguish    his flesh devoured
yet loosed not lips   locked in silence
to pray for pity…"

as well as in the present context in LL1, Canto VII:

"…to dungeons no hope nor glimmer know
where chained in chains that eat the flesh
and woven in webs of strangling mesh
they lay forgotten, in despair."

 


"Children of Aulë" - ObRef to The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party":

"Well, your father gave me this to give to you; and if I have chosen my own time and way for handing it over, you can hardly blame me, considering the trouble I had to find you. Your father could not remember his own name when he gave me the paper, and he never told me yours; so on the whole I think I ought to be praised and thanked! Here it is," said he, handing the map to Thorin.

"I don't understand," said Thorin, and Bilbo felt he would have liked to say the same. The explanation did not seem to explain.

"Your grandfather," said the wizard slowly and grimly, "gave the map to his son for safety before he went to the mines of Moria. Your father went away to try his luck with the map after your grandfather was killed; and lots of adventures of a most unpleasant sort he had, but he never got near the Mountain. How he got there I don't know, but I found him a prisoner in the dungeons of the Necromancer."

"Whatever were you doing there?" asked Thorin with a shudder, and all the dwarves shivered.

"Never you mind. I was finding things out, as usual; and a nasty dangerous business it was. Even I, Gandalf, only just escaped. I tried to save your father, but it was too late. He was witless and wandering, and had forgotten almost everything except the map and the key."

"We have long ago paid the goblins of Moria," said Thorin; "we must give a thought to the Necromancer."

"Don't be absurd! He is an enemy far beyond the powers of all the dwarves put together, if they could all be collected again from the four corners of the world. The one thing your father wished was for his son to read the map and use the key. The dragon and the Mountain are more than big enough tasks for you!"

It should be immediately apparent that the reference is entirely and utterly apt (surprising though this may be to those who have neglected The Hobbit in the mistaken belief that it is merely a light children's book, undeserving of attention.)

 

 

Chronology of the Geste:
    (taken from the Silmarillion, the Lay of Leithian, and the Grey Annals)

455/56 The Dagor Bragollach takes place at midwinter, winding down somewhat in spring of '56. Of the lords of the northlands, Fingolfin, Hador Lórindol, Angrod, Aegnor and Bregolas are all killed, with massive allied casualties and loss of territory. Finrod saved by Barahir, joined by Orodreth, with Celegorm, Curufin, Celebrimbor, and surviving followers driven from Aglon and Himlad, regrouping in Nargothrond.

458      Tol Sirion lost. (The Haladin protect Doriath and Húrin and Huor are separated from their cousins, then rescued and taken to Gondolin by the Eagles.) Subsequently the situation in Dorthonion worsens; Lady Emeldir takes surviving civilians westward in search of safety — no exact time frame given.

459     (Húrin and Huor are given special conduct to leave Gondolin and return home to Hithlum via Eagle.)

460     Sauron comes to settle the rebels in person. Gorlim captured; Barahir and the other Outlaws killed. Beren continues his personal war alone.

462      (Morgoth attacks Eithel Sirion, Húrin's father Galdor killed there. Cirdan brings a fleet to Fingon's rescue.)

463      (Easterlings arrive en masse in East Beleriand, ally with Maedhros, Maglor and Caranthir.)

464      Beginning quarter, during winter, Beren leaves Dorthonion, crosses the dead zone and enters Doriath, taking up residence in the northeastern quadrant of Neldoreth. (Also in the early part of the year, in Dor-lomin, Húrin marries Beren's cousin Morwen.)

            Around midsummer Beren sees Lúthien for the first time and is smitten.

            (Towards the end of the year, Túrin is born in Dor-lomin.)

            Through autumn and winter Beren haunts Neldoreth, occasionally catching sight or sound of Lúthien, but unable to approach or talk to her.

464/5   At midwinter Beren sees Lúthien celebrating in the snow.

            Spring arrives, and the "spell of silence" on Beren is broken. Through the next few months their relationship develops, overwatched unknown to them by Daeron.

            Around midsummer Daeron betrays them to Thingol. Beren is assigned the Quest and departs westward for Nargothrond. Lúthien mourns at home and gives her family the silent treatment.

            Early autumn he arrives Nargothrond, the coup takes place, and "on an evening of autumn" Beren, Finrod, Edrahil and the other nine leave the City in the divided possession of Orodreth and the sons of Fëanor.

            After indefinite days of travel northward, they are picked up at the border of Anfauglith and taken back to Tol Sirion by Sauron's patrols. Duel, defeat and imprisonment.

            Simultaneously in Doriath, by psychic means, Lúthien discovers the truth and plans to attempt a rescue. Betrayed to her father again by Daeron and imprisoned in Hirilorn for indefinite days before escaping. Arriving environs Nargothrond is intercepted and taken hostage by Celegorm. Escapes with Huan after indefinite days imprisoned there. Arrives Tol Sirion late autumn/early winter.

            Joint battle and defeat of Sauron, rescue of Beren and other Elvish slaves employed at Tol Sirion. Burial of Finrod there. Ex-thralls travel to Nargothrond with Huan, while Beren and Lúthien wander around for an indefinite while sightseeing and arguing about what to do next, heading generally towards Neldoreth.

            In Nargothrond, counter-revolution results in the eviction of the sons of Fëanor. Their eastward route between Nan Dungortheb and Doriath intersects with Beren and Lúthien's trail north of Brethil. Attempted shooting of Lúthien, Beren shot, Huan defects to their side. The following day after Beren's healing they begin a debate/journey back to Doriath, taking an unspecified number of days.

            Meanwhile in Doriath proper, Thingol receives Celegorm's "offer of alliance" and responds with an army, but en route is obliged to detour to cope with an invasion of Orcs, and after taking care of that, sends Beleg in to Nargothrond to infiltrate and gather intelligence. Learning that Lúthien is gone who-knows-where, and that the sons of Fëanor have been sent packing, he gives up on that and returns to Menegroth to plan new rescue efforts. No exact timeline for these events.

            Winter, early a.m. Beren sneaks off on Curufin's horse and rides back west and north to the Anfauglith. Later same day Lúthien convinces Huan to take her along, they detour briefly south to Tol Sirion, pick up Huan's stashed trophies and go north to catch up to Beren at the border of noman's-land at nightfall. (Could have been not that same day but the next — but maybe not, given the fact that the steeds were respectively a proto-meara and an Immortal.) Huan leaves to go talk to Thorondor and other lawful animal species, after scolding Beren. That night Lúthien transforms them, at midnight they begin the crossing of the burnt plain.

            About two days travel broken by rest periods to get to the Gates of Angband (midnight through the following day and night, arriving at the foothills of Thangorodrim the next morning, and the road that led through the rough tailings to the Gate where they rest through the afternoon before continuing down it to arrive at the Gates by evening) followed by the attempted infiltration of Angband and The Duel, followed by the removal of the gem, the messed-up escape plan, Beren's maiming, and the extraction from before the Gates by Thorondor, Gwaihir and Landroval, with evacuation to the starting point in northern Doriath where Huan is waiting.

466      Through the end of winter Beren is comatose, cared for by Lúthien and Huan. Meanwhile Carcharoth is rampaging madly around the northeast, as much a menace to Morgoth's own forces as to anyone else, and Thingol has sent an embassy to demand damages and assistance in finding Lúthien from Himring but the emissaries are intercepted and slaughtered by the Wolf, with only Mablung surviving the attack.

            Spring arrives, Beren recovers consciousness but not hope. Return to Menegroth end of spring/beginning of summer. The hunt of the Wolf. Beren & Huan killed.

467        Lúthien dies, no season of year given, and goes to Mandos to appeal on Beren's behalf.

468        Maedhros decides he could certainly do a better job than they managed and starts planning his own invasion of Angband.

469        Beren & Lúthien return to Middle-earth, no season of year given, and after an unspecified time leave Menegroth, wander for a while, and end up in Ossiriand. Sometime in the next five years Dior is born.

 


 

Sulilotë: "windflower;" Quenya, constructed name, after the fashion of Ninquelotë.

 

Act 4: SCENE IV.xiv

 

Finrod's brothers refer in their self-critical remarks to the statements in Silm. that they were eager to be off and among the first to step forward at Fëanor's behest — not surprising, if they were close friends to his sons and presumably close in temperment as well.

Finrod on the other hand is invoking the family issues of the preceding generation as a negative model and reproach, reminding them of the destructive consequences of their uncles' sibling rivalry for their grandfather's attention and approval — not a comparison which would be at all welcome, particularly given their centuries'-long role as elder guardians of mortals.

His attempt to console Aegnor and the latter's response connect with the matter of the "Athrabeth," Aegnor being no more willing, in this envisioning, to accept such a tenuous hope than his true-love was.

 

Act 4: SCENE IV.xv

Not enough consideration has been given, it seems to me, to the resulting familial stresses that would follow from the decree of banishment that has been discussed in Act III, whereby the Noldor refused to allow those who had been captured by Morgoth to return, because of the likelihood that some (or all) of them had been turned and were released only under a compulsion. I also wanted to point up the complications of interrelated Great Houses — and their interrelated followings; a historical fact in our earth, and equally so in Arda.

 

 Time problem: the discussion of how time is measured and defined, and even perceivable, has been a hotly-debated philosophical as well as scientific issue for as long as people have been watching the stars and noting the regularity — and variation — of their movements. The need to abstract one' self from assumptions, to consider scientifically what is taken for granted (that is, the present standards of measurement, both on a small and a large scale) and the difficulties thereof are something I have personally experienced when trying to reassure high-school students as to the mystic-non-significance of "Y2K" and the reasons for not believing in it: one tool I used was an old Chinese New Year card made by Hallmark, which did very concretely what chalkboard diagrams of the solar system had not succeeded in doing — conveying the fact that a "year" is a segment of time whose start and stop are determined by people, not the Universe itself, and when we choose to do so entirely arbitrary and variable.

 

 Crossings of Teiglin: the place where the southern road which leads from Tol Sirion towards Nargothrond traverses the river Teiglin; this is the particular location the Haladin were specifically charged to guard against Enemy incursions as the "rent" for Brethil forest by King Thingol — which at the time of its granting was hardly a heavy challenge (or foreseeably so), given the amount of allied traffic that must have traveled this main north-south corridor between the domains of the Noldor, the Fortress standing squarely athwart that road, and the Leaguer serving to maintain a perimeter even farther north. For most of the Long Peace it must have been a very busy locale, as well as a slightly inconveniently-splashy one in times of heavy traffic, given that it was after all a ford.

 

 "not very biddable" — Maiwë is referring here to their shared Valinorean past, and one of Melkor's main arguments in seducing the Noldor to strife and rebellion: the idea that Men, according to the will of the Valar, "might come and supplant them in the realms of Middle-earth, for the Valar saw that they might more easily sway this short-lived and weaker race, defrauding the Elves of the inheritance of Ilúvatar. Small truth was there in this, and little have the Valar ever prevailed to sway the wills of Men, but many of the Noldor believed, or half believed, the evil words." (Silm., "Of the Silmarils.") It is also noted rather dryly earlier in the same passage by the chronicler that "little he [that is, Melkor] knew yet concerning Men, for engrossed with his own thought in the Music he had paid small heed to the Third Theme…" — an oversight which would cost him dearly, but which he would swiftly move to rectify, with not insignificant success.

 

 bastard: one important theme in this act (as in the Silmarillion itself) is that of communication — what are the basic assumptions, cultural contexts, and inherent traits that shape our understanding, so that language itself can become an obstacle, as well as what potential lies in overcoming such barriers. A thoughtless (to most of us, at least) insult serves as one way of illustrating the vast gulfs of understanding not simply between Men and Elves, but between the cultures which have been separated now for almost half-a-millenium, and whose experiences have diverged so radically.

Since Elves (with the world-shattering exception of Finwë) bond with a single partner, and conception follows from a voluntary act of the parents' will, bastardy cannot be an Elven concept in its origin; there is no way for it to enter the vocabulary except through contact with mortals, as the observation of nature would only yield the fact that different kinds of creatures follow different rules for social organization, including those concerning mating. Not until encountering sentients so similar in outward appearance and yet so different on very fundamental levels would, it is reasonable to assume, such a thing even occur to the Eldar — and, it is equally reasonable to deduce, be very troubling to think about. (Angrod and Aegnor, having been in close contact with Men for so long, understand the word superficially at least, enough to use the insult with meaningful intent.)

Nerdanel, however, being as wise, is likely to cut right through the social confusion following the faux-pas of the unmeant corrolary of such an insult (i.e., her presumed infidelity) and to see the crucial facts of such a psychic difference, and their implications for recent events.

 

 "a good thing" — Nerdanel's somewhat disturbing remarks (since encompassed in them is the fact of his death) follow naturally enough from the view that it is better to suffer wrongs than to do them.

 

 Beren's amusement at their eviction from the Powers' discussion refers both to Beren's own experiences and those of House Finarfin not simply in Nargothrond but also in Doriath previously.

 

Act 4: SCENE IV.xvi

 

Miriel's death indeed preceded the release of Melkor, q.v. Silm., "Of Fëanor," where it is stated that while Indis' sons were still growing up, Melkor came up for parole and was released from Mandos after his case was considered.

 

Act 4: SCENE IV.xvii

 

The Sea-Mew's reaction would likely be typical of Elves to Lúthien's imprisonment, given its anomalous character and the amply attested independence of the Eldar both in Aman and in Beleriand, and not merely the result of youthful empathy.

 

"defensive perimeter" — this dark-humoured remark is an allusion both to Leaguer and to the Guarded Plain protecting Nargothrond, where Beren was observed and arrested on his approach.

 

 Again, more invocation of Montague-Capulet interactions in this section.

 

"minion" — a reference of course to their disguising themselves as Orcs.

 

 The problem of interior mental attitude and moral guilt is not an abstract question, nor a matter of airy metaphysical speculation, as I have heard declared in college ethics classes, but a very real and material one: it is the difference between manslaughter and Murder One, and between different classes of assault even when no death results, and even when no assault is successfully carried through — with vastly different sentences corresponding to each.

And no, I don't think that there would be any Hollywood moment for Maiwë here, no "my hero!" exclamation and dazzlement overwhelming all rational doubts and self-interest at an act of violence undertaken (at least in part) on her behalf, given who she is, the culture she comes from, and what happened to her.

 

The interaction between Nerdanel and the Fëanorian lords reflects the fact that, as members of her husband's following, they would of course have been known to her before the rebellion, and in fact answerable to her as Lady of the House before the couple's separation.

 

"damnéd archers" — the problem of archers taking all the fun out of battle, so to speak, and levelling to a much greater extent the playing field, so that mere physical brawn and swordsmanship (or spearmanship) and courage no longer were the only elements (along with Fate) which determined the outcome of a battle, goes back at least to the Iliad and probably earlier. (This is the same problem which the samurai found themselves confronting in the Renaissance, leading to the outlawing of firearms at a time when artillery and ballistics were being refined in Europe; this equalizing effect can be seen demonstrated in Kurosawa's incomparable epic The Seven Samurai, where a primitive musket is employed against a ravaging warlord's forces with demoralizing results, despite its inefficiency.)

 

chess: Maiwë's query reflects the fact that I think it highly unlikely that chess originated in Valinor (though remotely possible.) Personally I suspect it to have been originally a Dwarvish invention, and modified first by the Elves and subsequently by mortals to add new elements of challenge (or alternately to reflect reality more closely.) It is in my opinion equally probable that it was first introduced to Doriath by the Dwarven architects and artisans who worked there, and from there brought to the other Noldor realms via the Finarfinions, as that it might have been "discovered" by Finrod first while working with the Dwarves on Nargothrond and thereby introduced to his cousins — who might have replaced archers with cavalry to give it a shape more familiar to us at present. Or it could just be that the tafl style version, with all players equal in ability, as if on foot and armed only with hand weapons, was the original and the elaborations and specializations we are used to might be the later developments of the game.

 

Act 4: SCENE IV.xviii

 

Melkor's parole: Nienna (who was at that point thought of as the sister of Manwë and Melkor, not of Namo and Irmo) taking his part is mentioned in HOME:LR, "Quenta Silmarillion", as is the fact that Tulkas and Ulmo didn't trust him despite his display of benevolent reform, Tulkas clenching his fists whenever the pardoned rebel went by.

 

Act 4: SCENE IV.xix

 

Before Cirdan was introduced into the mythos (or rather, his existence uncovered by the historian), Finrod (then known in the texts as Inglor, if you weren't confused enough already) was in fact posited as King and overlord of the coastal Teler as well as of Nargothrond, so his father's question is not entirely unwarranted, nor the idea implausible. ("The Quenta," HOME:Shaping). In the absence of a strong leader of their own, the folk of the Havens might well have adopted this outgoing, efficient young kinsman from the West who helped them build up their defenses and improve their shipyards, just as many of the Elves of Beleriand made his cousin Turgon their lord.

 

That there was an expression of familial rivalries on a very low-key level between the branches of the House of Finwë, in the unusual extent of each family, is entirely my own suggestion; the HOME timelines indicate a wide spacing of the children of Finarfin and Eärwen, (some sixty-odd years overall, but whether these are Valinorean years, which differ from Sun-years rather in the way that a "year" is not the same on every planet, or have already been converted to current dates, I'm still not sure), but I have not found any corresponding dates for the Feanorions or Fingolfinions to verify this conjecture. It isn't entirely improbable, though, I think.

That having more children than one's sibling would be understood more in the nature of being a prolific artist — and a collaborative one, at that — rather than in any notion of male sexual prowess, comes from HOME: Morgoth's Ring, "Laws & Customs" where it's made clear that according to Elven thought, having children is one among many skills and talents, like painting, sculpture, writing, fibre arts, music, and so forth; that it's one complete process, throughout which both parents are fully involved (if in different ways) and that the father's part doesn't begin and end in bed, nor the mother's part begin in pregnancy (take that, Aristotle!) and that one has no business indulging in the begetting if one doesn't plan to stick around for the childrearing part. Though like all analogies this is a limited one, because the Elvish sages also believed that while parents contribute psychic energy to the developing offspring (one reason why fathers need to be around, literally lending psychological support) the newcomer is not in any way "part of" the parents' souls, but a unique and different person, independent of others, not a mere extension of the family, certainly not property — even, or especially, in the case of those who are reincarnated.

 

The contrasts between present-day chess and tafl are used here, as in Act III, to make a point, but now the emphasis is slightly different, not on the fact of the unequal contest and difficulty as a metaphor for the struggles against the Enemy in Beleriand, and specifically equating Finrod to the namesake kingstone, but instead more strongly on the contrasting ways in which the two games are won or lost.

 

The complex and dynamic questions of how life shapes language shapes thought shapes sentient life are barely beginning to be systematically explored in a dispassionate way (i.e., not to "prove" cultural superiorities) by cognitive science researchers uniquely suited, by virtue of their own multilinguality, to ask the right questions.

 

Finrod's kingdom was not limited in its height to merely the capitol and its environs. All those lands held in vassalty by his brothers, and in turn let by them to their own lieges, belong to him as surely as the Shire belongs to Gondor. Thus the whole of the Sirion Valley and the northern border up to the Pass of Aglon is his, forming an L-shape or shallow "C" around Doriath, leaving the east side to the apathetic rule of House Fëanor and the largely uninhabited south uncertain as to what alliegiance, if any, was acknowledged by its nomadic inhabitants. (It also encircled, though unawares, the compact realm of his cousin, Turgon, along with the dead zone of Nan Dungortheb between Doriath and Dorthonion.)

The political importance was even greater, as was the "sphere of influence," because of the fact that Finrod alone communicated with all the Free Peoples of Beleriand, serving as the bridge between the factions of his family in the northeast and northwest, with the Teler of the seacoast and the Sindar of Doriath, (and safeguarding the renewed contact previously broken by Morgoth between them),  with the wandering tribes of the Lindar in the East, and with those who were entirely Other as well, the Dwarf-Lords and mortals. Nargothrond controlled the main north-south traffic corridor, the Sirion valley, and also had what no other Noldor house had — a safe, quick, route east and west through Doriath, and a vast source of free information through Elu's messengers. No other Elven King had the same level of access to places and news, not because of pre-eminence of birth or military power, but because of interest and involvement — no one else was a xenophile, to put it another way. Family connections only get you so far, and nowhere at all with people who aren't related to you in any degree. The rapid disintegration of what remains of organized resistance in Beleriand after Finrod's exile cannot all be ascribed to the military might of the Dark Lord, nor should it be facilely ascribed to the curse of the Silmarils, as if dooms operate in a vacuum, rather than working on, and through, the available materials.

 

Elu's counselor refers both to the sons of Finarfin being kicked out over the Kinslaying revelation, and the later situation with the Haladin described in Act II:III, as well as other unknown arguments which may safely be presumed to have taken place over the centuries on matters from politics to advanced theology, given the respective parties involved.

 

 Regarding Finrod correcting himself before speaking of Glaurung by kind: somewhat patronizingly, perhaps, but also considerately, he doesn't assume that people here are familiar with what he's talking about that is outside of their direct experience.

 

The Warden of Aglon's words echo Caranthir's to Angrod and Aegnor:

But Caranthir, who loved not the sons of Finarfin, and was the harshest of the brothers and most quick to anger, cried aloud: 'Yea more! Let not the sons of Finarfin run hither and thither with their tales to this Dark Elf in his caves! Who made them our spokesmen to deal with him? And though they be indeed come to Beleriand, let them not so swiftly forget that their father is a lord of the Noldor, though their mother be of other kin.'    (Silm., "Of the Return of the Noldor")

 

"birdcage" — this jibe invokes the speech of Fëanor in the great square of Tirion, where with flaming torches in hand he proclaims, as recorded in a fragmentary poem, where his hot words are forebodingly uttered against the background image of the frightened Sea-elves wandering on the beaches or huddled on the ships, calling for each other and wondering what catastrophe has darkened their world:

"…the Gods' jealousy,    who guard us here
to serve them, sing to them     in our sweet cages,
to contrive them gems     and jewelled trinkets,
their leisure to please     with our loveliness,
while they waste and squander     work of ages,
nor can Morgoth master     in their mansions sitting
at endless councils.     Now come ye all,
who have courage and hope!    My call hearken
to flight, to freedom     in far places!"

(LB, "The Flight of the Noldoli From Valinor")

along with the fact that Valmar, the city of the Vanyar, was known for its golden architecture and its many bells whose notes filled the air around it.

 

Aglon's slightly ribald remark provoking the Barad Nimras comment in return refers to the statements in Silm., "Of Beleriand and its Realms," about the Enemy never invading from the Sea. This is, in retrospect, obvious given the antipathy between the Powers of Water and Morgoth, but of course hindsight is always perfect, and neglect of defenses based on assumptions a dangerous thing.

 

 yearsick: literal translation of Engwar, "the sickly ones", an epithet conferred by the Eldar on mortals, refers to sickness caused by the passing of time, rather than pestilence or injury.

 

"twilight" — harking back to her people's time on Tol Eressëa, of which it is said, "There the Teler abode as they wished under the stars of heaven, and yet within sight of Aman and the deathless shore; and by that long sojourn apart in the Lonely Isle was caused the sundering of their speech from that of the Vanyar and the Noldor," (Silm., "Of Eldamar") and in another rescension, "Ossë followed them, and when they were come near to their journey's end he called to them; and they begged Ulmo to halt for a while, so that they might take leave of their friend and look their last upon the sky of stars. For the light of the Trees, that filtered through the passes of the hills, filled them with awe." (HOME:LR, "Quenta Silmarillion".)

 

 "quarter Noldor" — this is in fact the case, as Finarfin is half Vanyar, and Eärwen presumably entirely of Teler descent.

 

 the Ex-Thrall's story. it's extremely possible that there were female POWs at Tol Sirion, given that Morgoth was an equal-oportunity enslaver, and that the bastions of the Noldor were not merely forward military base camps, but fortified installations of long-standing, like the Roman castrae, or medieval castles. Given what it says about Elvish gender roles in "Laws and Customs" (HOME: Morgoth's Ring), she would not have been impossible nor even implausible, far less so than the very real aristocratic women who went into the field in WWI driving ambulances, and were occasionally casualties there. (This is reflected in the fictional account of the narrator's lost, enigmatic mother in Brideshead Revisited; but that such drivers were not only courageous but also known at home for being somewhat reckless of speed limits, and sometimes came back from the War with decorated, titled husbands met in such chaotic circumstances, comes firsthand from the non-fiction pages of a crumbling 1919 newspaper in my personal possession.)

"two years" — to cross-reference, it will be recalled that this is when the situation in Dorthonion becomes untenable, and the extraordinarly-dangerous step of removing surviving civilian population willing to leave across that now-enemy-held area, through the mountains, is undertaken by their Lady.

Little Ease (& other horrors): her ordeal is not as "modern" as it seems, in large part because Tolkien himself anticipated many of the horrors of the 20th century years before they became fact, which in turn reflects the fact that the totalitarian excesses of the last century were but the outgrowth of those which preceded them, the police state well-known throughout 19th and 18th century Europe, the labour camps of Siberia merely continuing the traditions of the Czarist regime, the actual and virtual slavery of disenfranchised laborers, whose protests put down with such violence on the continent resulted in so many emigrations to the New World, and the infamously-hellish working conditions of mill and factory which have only moved to places where there is less regulation and oversight (or enforcement) these days. Angband's work environment is described in LL1, Cantos XII-XIII:

"They woke, and felt the trembling sound,
the beating echo far underground
shake beneath them, the rumour vast
of Morgoth's forges…

…the thunderous forges' rumours grew,
a burning wind there roaring blew
foul vapours up from gaping holes.
Huge shapes there stood like carven trolls
enormous hewn of blasted rock
to forms that mortal likeness mock;
monstrous and menacing, entombed,
at every turn they silent loomed
in fitful glares that leaped and died.
There hammers clanged, and tongues there cried
with sound like smitten stone; there wailed
faint from far under, called and failed
amid the iron clink of chain
voices of captives put to pain."

And of course the systematic employment of brutality to control one's fellow-sentients, and by those who by innate temperment and/or bad upbringing find it an enjoyable diversion, is at least as old as recorded history. The confinement of political prisoners in an enclosure too small to lie down or stand up in was known to the jailers of Elizabethan England as "Little Ease," and the "divide and conquer" method of dealing with resistance well-known to the Romans. However Orwellian it might seem, this sequence is actually inspired more by Dante and the sources from antiquity that he drew on (along with the Lay itself, obviously.)

How bad could it have been? There is a tendency among fans to mistake reticence for naivete on the part of Tolkien, (which does not seem to take into account the facts of the Great War, for one thing) based on contemporary decades' explicitness in describing fictional torture and atrocity, often with a tone which indicates relish rather than real horror on the part of the authors. (Eddings, Jordan, Goodkind all leaping to mind.) But in one of the rescensions of the Fall of Nargothrond, when the dying Gelmir commands Túrin, he orders him to go and rescue Finduilas if he can — or kill her, if he cannot. Gelmir knows what he's talking about — if he, a veteran of four centuries' worth of warfare and the Crossing of the Ice, thinks the Halls of Mandos are a better alternative to surviving as a thrall, we can be sure that it was every bit as bad as anything described by Solzhenitzen or other survivors — and worse: after all, the thugs of 20th century labour camps and prisons were not supervised by telepathic Darkside overlords. The following description of Húrin's "softening-up" in Angband dates from around 1926:

Said the dread Lord of Hell:      'Dauntless Húrin,
stout steel-handed,      stands before me
yet quick a captive,     as a coward might be!
Then knows he my name,      or needs be told
what hope he has     in the halls of iron?
The bale most bitter,      Balrogs' torment?

Then Húrin answered,      Hithlum's chieftain—
his shining eyes     with sheen of fire
in wrath were reddened:     'O ruinous one,
by fear unfettered    I have fought thee long,
nor dread thee now,     nor thy demon slaves,
fiends and phantoms,     thou foe of Gods!'
His dark tresses,     drenched and tangled,
that fell o'er his face     he flung backward,
in the eye he looked     of the evil Lord—
since that day of dread     to dare his glance
has no mortal Man     had might of soul.
There the mind of Húrin    in a mist of dark
'neath gaze unfathomed    groped and foundered,
yet his heart yielded not     nor his haughty pride.
But Lungorthin    Lord of Balrogs
on the mouth smote him,    and Morgoth smiled:
'Nay, fear when thou feelest,     when the flames lick thee
and the whistling whips    thy white body
and wilting flesh    weal and torture!'
Then hung they helpless    Húrin dauntless
in chains by fell    enchantments forged
that with fiery anguish    his flesh devoured
yet loosed not lips   locked in silence
to pray for pity.   Thus prisoned saw he
on the sable walls    the sultry glare
of far-off fires    fiercely burning
down deep corridors     and dark archways
in the blind abysses     of those bottomless halls;
there with mourning mingled    mighty tumult
the throb and thunder   of the thudding forges'
brazen clangour;    belched and spouted
flaming furnaces;     there faces sad
through the gloom glided     as the gloating Orcs
their captives herded    under cruel lashes.
Many a hopeless glance    on Húrin fell,
for his tearless torment     many tears were spilled.

This scene — with the emphasis of helplessness and anticipation being employed as simultaneously the stripped, brutalized Edain leader is set up for an example to the other prisoners (mostly Elven) and their hopeless state kept in front of him to make sure that he knows there is no way out — and the following, wherein Morgoth plays good-cop next, offering Húrin not only healing from from his burns and floggings, but a high place of rank in his armies—

"I am a mild master      who remembers well
his servants' deeds.      A sword of terror
thy hand should hold,      and a high lordship
as Bauglir's champion,      chief of Balrogs…"

—if he will only betray Gondolin's King to him, follows classic past and present interrogation tactics.

Add to that the fact that those Elves on whom the Dark Lord expended direct effort to break, remained pyschically broken thereafter, and — yeah, it would have been that bad. (Think of the mindflaying power of the Great Eye in LOTR.) The worst accounts of Primary World abuse always involve a level of consent, of the tyrant (small scale or large scale) forcing the victim to cooperate in their own degradation, and particularly by betraying companions, which both is the political end in itself, a way of maintaining the hold over the mind in absentia — and just plain fun for the kind of person who willingly gets involved in these activities. And yes, they're real, and they're not few, and they're far scarier than the hyped-up, eroticized serial killers of popular fiction, and they're not limited to any nationality or chronological period. You've probably encountered them in school already. All they need is organizers willing to use them against their enemies, and you have the Mob, the classic "police state" — or Angband.

 

Nerdanel's remark about hounds loving to sing reflects both Primary and Arda traditions; the lore of hunters talks of the sweet voices of the pack, and having a clear and beautiful call (as such things are reckoned) is a desirable trait in a hunting hound — but it is also present in the etymology of Huan's name (which is indeed a title as well — he is The Dog, like a Scots laird's honorific) from the root "khug" meaning to bark or to bay. It's his job, so to speak! (It also happens to be the simple truth, that it's canine nature to make loud noises.)

 

Act 4: SCENE IV.xx

 

Aulë's reluctance to go to war is described here:

"Oromë tarried a while among the Quendi, and then swiftly he rode back over land and sea to Valinor and brought the tidings back to Valmar; and he spoke of the shadows that troubled Cuiviénen. Then the Valar rejoiced, and yet they were in doubt amid their joy; and they debated long what counsel it were best to take for the guarding of the Quendi from the shadow of Melkor. But Oromë returned at once to Middle-earth and abode with the Elves.

Manwë sat long in thought upon Taniquetil, and he sought the counsel of Ilúvatar. And coming then down to Valmar he summoned the Valar to the Ring of Doom, and thither came even Ulmo from the Outer Sea.

Then Manwë said to the Valar: 'This is the counsel of Ilúvatar in my heart: that we should take up again the mastery of Arda, at whatsoever cost, and deliver the Quendi from the shadow of Melkor.' Then Tulkas was glad; but Aulë was grieved, foreboding the hurts of the world that must come of that strife…"

(Silmarillion,"Of the Coming of the Elves")

The suggestion that he might have been reluctant to do so for fear that it would harm the unawakened Dwarves follows naturally from the concerns of the Valar in the earlier Ages that their battles might injure or destroy the Children they knew of from the Song, but whose place of Awakening was unknown to them:

"In the confusion and the darkness Melkor escaped, though fear fell upon him; for above the roaring of the seas he heard the voice of Manwë as a mighty wind, and the earth trembled beneath the feet of Tulkas. But he came to Utumno ere Tulkas could overtake him; and there he lay hid. And the Valar could not at that time overcome him, for the greater part of their strength was needed to restrain the tumults of the Earth, and to save from ruin all that could be saved of their labour; and afterwards they feared to rend the Earth again, until they knew where the Children of Ilúvatar were dwelling, who were yet to come in a time that was hidden from the Valar. Thus ended the Spring of Arda…"

(Silm.,"Of the Beginning of Days.")

"And it is said indeed that, even as the Valar made war upon Melkor for the sake of the Quendi, so now for that time they forbore for the sake of the Hildor, the Aftercomers, the younger Children of Ilúvatar. For so grievous had been the hurts of Middle-earth in the war upon Utumno that the Valar feared lest even worse should now befall; whereas the Hildor should be mortal, and weaker than the Quendi to withstand fear and tumult. Moreover it was not revealed to Manwë where the beginning of Men should be, north, south or east. Therefore the Valar sent forth light, but made strong the land of their dwelling."
(Silm., "Of the Sun and Moon.")

 

The validity of such concerns is shown by looking at the map of Beleriand in conjunction with the passages which follow the first quotation given above — or by comparing the map of Beleriand with that of Third Age Middle-earth.

 

 Ossë: this Maia of the oceans was lured to rebellion against his own lord, Ulmo, by Melkor (for whom the uncontrollable quality of the Sea was a challenge and a threat) but through the good efforts of his wife Uinen and family friend Aulë was redeemed and remained thereafter a passionate defender of law and order (while paradoxically remaining a fan of chaos, responsible for destructive storms) — which lawfulness even more paradoxically brought him into occasional conflict with that lord in a later Age when the situation grew more complex. (Silm., "Valaquenta," & UT.)

 

Act 4: SCENE IV.xxi

Arda Envinyanta: "Arda Renewed" - this is what I have termed "the Heresy of Felagund," the belief in an Eschaton in which the Marring will no longer damage the cosmos, which is seen in its fullest expression in the Athrabeth, the "Debate of Finrod and Andreth," but which appears in glimpses elsewhere throughout the Arda mythos. This is the "Second Music" spoken of in the Silmarillion, "Ainulindalë" in which the Children will be co-demiurges of the world with the Ainur, making the Great Song as it should be without discord. It is also there in the later, Second Prophecy of Mandos, when the entire world will grow old and weak enough that Morgoth can break into it again and destroy the Sun and Moon in terrible battle, before being defeated by none other than the mortal Túrin fighting at the side of the Powers, after which, as in the Scandinavian myths of Ragnarók, the world will be remade.

One remarkable implication of all this is the fact that Arda Renewed will not be Arda as it would have been without the Marring, as if Morgoth had never rebelled, any more than it is simply a patched-up version of this present universe. Another is what it says to possibly contradict the Elven certainty that unlike mortals, their lives are limited to this world only, with no hereafter — the Professor's dramatic re-envisioning of an old European folk-belief, which, unexamined, simply declares that the deathless ones of the land and sea, Fair Folk and mermaids, have "no souls." This belief, which is what the Eldar traditionally hold, and which is the meaning of the "sundered fates" and the tragedy of mortal-Elven love (and equally, of Ainur-Elven love), is revealed to mortals in the Athrabeth, a complicated philosophical work set like a Socratic dialogue or Anglo-Saxon debate (but unlike most 20th century philosophy) into a "real-world" context of individuals and problems personal, societal, and metaphysical.

The Athrabeth cannot be understood without considering it in the context of the Geste. It doesn't make sense apart from the full stream of events retold in Silm., neither for its irony nor for its implications. It isn't something tacked on to the mythos, either, as some have declared, but the natural outgrowth of the issues which the Geste, and the other three central stories of Elven-Edain interaction, the Narn, Gondolin, and Earendil, create and embody, but do not examine. They are, after all, stories — there is room for some reflection in them, but not much, without stopping the action dead. But during all those long years before, after, and during the crises which get stories told about them, the characters of the Silmarillion were thinking and talking and writing about what was going on around them and how they were reacting to it. It's just that most of the lore, as we are repeatedly told throughout Silm., of the First Age was lost in the course of the War and subsequent disasters. Athrabeth is one fragment which wasn't.

The setting, which in the context of the Athrabeth only unfolds gradually, and is revealed as the argument progresses, (significant spoilers, I'm afraid) is sometime not long before the Dagor Bragollach, of which coming disaster Finrod has vague premonitions, sharing with his brothers the certainty that containment of Morgoth is not the best strategy, but with no more knowledge than that future warfare is the inevitable result of the present stalemate. And a little while longer ago, one of his younger brothers, Aegnor, fell in love with a noblewoman of the Bëorings' tribe, and wasn't able to deal with it. Knowing that not only was she going to become old and feeble, but also that after she died they would be separated for eternity, he took the classic commitmentphobe's way out and stayed away from her for the rest of her life. The Athrabeth itself is the discussion of mortality, immortality, and Eternity by Finrod and the now-elderly, embittered mortal sage Andreth, wherein and both of them learn surprising things even after all these years about each other's peoples, and Finrod is hit with another vision, in which he starts seeing how these contradictory impressions and beliefs about the universe might actually all fit together and work out ultimately.

It's long, it's complicated, it touches on high-level metaphysical issues that Plato, Aristotle, the Vedas, Anselm of Canterbury, Dame Julian of Norwich, the Talmud and Lao Tzu all wrestled with, to name a few, and taken together with the Second Prophecy and the Second Music, undoes one of the most devastating facts of the Arda mythos, the idea that Elrond and Galadriel and all their people will just cease, as if they had never really mattered at all, except as preparation for human beings, and that this is somehow balanced out, as the Elven sages believed, by their own earthly immortality. It needs to be read in full, not once, and like every serious work of metaphysics I've ever encountered, can't be summed up simply, or understood the same way on each reading.

But a few things stand out from it, which can be easily remarked on (aside from the signal fact that Finrod will shortly die for one of Andreth's nephews aiding and abetting a relationship which he once considered fundamentally ill-advised): that he is willing to consider the worst possibilities — namely, that Evil is ultimately stronger than Good — while rejecting that claim; that he himself is at ease with the thought of his own finiteness, his own ultimate mortality, though grieved for the parting of friendships between their races; that only a "Great Doom" will make a mortal-Elven relationship work (which if you think about it, is really the same as saying that they have to be very unusual people to overcome the obstacles); the unpleasant consideration of those obstacles, not only the ultimate tragedy of separation, but the mundane and wretched problems of one spouse aging, the other not, and the fact that the Eldar don't think it's good to have children when the father is likely to be away or at risk in war, because of the importance of parental, not merely maternal, nuturing in early years; that the Eldar are not willing to risk things any more, and prefer to take the safe route of permanence over the harrowing risks of the future; that both the Firstborn and the Secondborn are meant to teach, enrich, and heal the other.

Thus the counter-arguments of his perturbed compatriots — that Finrod is grasping for everything (as would the Dark-seduced Numenoreans in the Second Age), or that he therefore doesn't regard suffering and destruction as serious in consequence, or that he's being hubristic to claim that he, a mere Elf, has glimpsed what is beyond the ability of even the Valar to know — are for the most part invalidated by the Athrabeth, valid though such objections are against some (or many) Eschatalogical arguments which I have read. The concept of Arda Envinyanta is unfathomable, but it doesn't simply dismiss past traumas as irrelevant compared to future goods, any more than Arda as it is is held up as "the best of all possible worlds." It isn't a wish for personal continuation that underpins Finrod's struggles to formulate his theory, but a conviction of the universal Justice as guiding force in the universe, that ultimately Good is, and cannot be destroyed — as a Greek poet put it, "—if the gods are evil, they are not the gods—" The role of the Followers in recreating the cosmos isn't just an adopted parent's enthusiatic belief in his own protegés, but implicit in the very Themes themselves.

—Whether or not claiming to know better than the gods themselves how the Song goes overall is arrogant, is one of those internal states of mind which can't be judged from outside — but it's a dead certainty it would look that way to most people. It is entirely in keeping, however, with his historical connection to Ulmo (more on that below). —Note, however, that the Powers themselves are depicted in Act IV as singularly blasé about ranting Eldar uttering defiant, radical, irreverent claims (or apparently-defiant, radical, irreverent claims) that others might think impious or blasphemous, which also comes from the Silmarillion and elsewhere. That the Weaver is more worried about damage to her house and tools, and her husband more worried about her being upset, isn't just for humorous effect. —After all, it isn't as though Finrod is doing anything wrong (being annoying doesn't count), like, oh, cutting down trees for no good purpose…

 

ice: this example of Melkor's earliest efforts to thwart the power of Water in the conceptualization process of the Elements, and his inability to do so, is found in Silm., "Ainulindalë".

 

myth: Beren and Amarië are referring to the subject matter of Silm., "Of Aule and Yavanna." I think one's attitude towards myths would be rather different if one were personally acquainted with the deities involved in them.

 

Concerning the arrival of the Edain in Beleriand, incorrectly believing that Aman was somewhere in Middle-earth — the reader may have guessed already what it is that Finrod (vainly, as it will turn out) is trying to keep from coming out about that event.

 

The only known time wherein Finrod actually loses control to an extent due to anger is the moment of Exile in Nargothrond, where he slams down his crown before the people and challenges any of them to follow him, so these others are my conjecture, containing as this example does elements of personal betrayal, attack, and danger to those under his protection in some degree. This comes from the fact that mere personal hostility is demonstrably not enough to get the eldest Finarfinion to reply in kind, when clarity is lacking, as demonstrated in the circumstances surrounding their temporary exile from Menegroth. Thus the Doriathrin counselor is understandably shocked to witness this outburst coming from Finrod, not Angrod.

 

 Beren speaking of their last words is referring to Finrod's lines in Silm., "…it will be long ere I am seen among the Noldor again; and it may be that we shall not meet a second time in death or life, for the fates of our kindreds are apart" —  from which "may" I originally took the conceit of this Act, and the implicit possibility of its alternative, before I knew about the existence of the Athrabeth — but which was followed by, in the version of the Quenta from which CT edited this redaction, the line "Yet perchance even that sorrow in the end shall be healed" — ! (HOME:LR, emphasis mine.)

In the original version of the Silm., as in the Geste itself, the seed of hope, that doubt of the ultimate futility of everything, was always intended to be there: even as Finrod believes himself bound for a long stay in Mandos, the poet of the Lay and chronicler of Doriath who tell of it know that he is already free in Valinor; even as it seems that his friend's love is doomed to be eternally unfulfilled, he affirms that tenuous certainty which their unhappy kindred rejected in Athrabeth. This time around, the Elven lover dares to grasp heartbreak, the mortal lover to keep faith, and they do change the ending of the story.

 

One reason Amarie is so particularly annoyed with Finrod over this matter of visions is that she is Vanyar, and he's only quarter-Vanyar, and her people are the ones who all along were closest to the Powers in terms of friendship and affinity, way before the malice of Melkor started turning the Noldor against the gods, so there's a bit of rivalry in operation going on here on top of everything else, a bit of spiritual jealousy at this passing-over (if it's really real) for a rebel who's hardly Vanyar at all!

 

banshee: a regrettable but irresistible joke, due to the fact that it is literally true — banshees are not ghosts, nor evil spirits, as is commonly believed, but only mourning female relatives of the soon-to-be-deceased, who happen to be immortals. "Ban" is Gaelic for woman, "shee" the phonetic rendering of "Sidhe" — the Fair Folk, those who dwell "beneath the hills" and within the woods. So it exactly describes the current situation, since the traditional banshee keens for the mortal scions of her own house, whose existence is due to just such long-ago romances.

 

Islands: see Silm., "Of the Sun and Moon," for the story of the defensive screen of islands and time-trapping web of dreams (similar to the Girdle around Doriath) set up to protect the coast of Aman against a renewed invasion from Middle-earth (along with the expansion of the mountain-barriers and the maintenaince of a round-the-clock watch on the only pass to the interior of the continent) which actually ended up catching those Noldor sailors who succeeded in getting that far in defiance of the Ban.

 

 "Not before you're ready" — the obvious explanation for this, and all the exchanges referencing this fact about the Halls, would be that it comes from "Laws and Customs," and specifically the "Statute of Finwe and Miriel;" however, I didn't actually read the Statute until this scene was finished, and only once, briefly, skimmed the earlier parts of L&C before writing Act IV to this point. The simple basis for it is the high priority placed throughout Tolkien's other writings on personal liberty, the value set on individuality, and healing — the fact that regardless of power or authority, no one can coerce another's will and still be a good guy. And that no one is compelled to do what they ought, regardless of how "practical" it would seem — that even self-binding via oaths to a good cause is discouraged, for instance, by Elrond; and that those who do not wish to come to Aman are not forced to do so by Oromë.

So it wasn't really surprising at all that the problem of those who wish to remain however inconveniently dead may do so for as long as they wish, and ideally should be free of pressure from family members to hurry up and make the decision (whichever way), so that a significant length of time is mandatory and must elapse before any permanent commitment can be made. No one is forced to return to life who does not wish to, and no one is allowed to compel another either to leave before their healing is complete, or to stay there so that the spouse of a deceased Elf can remarry. The rights of the Dead are forcefully upheld by Námo and Vairë, even when they consider the decision to be a bad one, as in the case of Miriel.

(The rights of the individual to self-determination is specifically upheld by the Weaver, who denies the beliefs of the other Valar that poor Miriel didn't know what she really wanted and was rushed into things by Finwë (who was a selfish lout for giving up on her so quickly) and wasn't up to making the decision, even after all those years had gone by for her to reconsider: Vaire points out that she's worked with Miriel for a very long time now, knows her pretty well, and since it's a safe bet that Finwë also knew his soul-mate very well, it's also safe to assume that he knew what Vairë has noticed about Miriel — that she's one of the stubbornest people in Arda, and not weak-minded or weak-willed at all. —Oh, and before you guys go slamming Finwë, wait till one of us Valier leaves you here, stuck with the Children to mind, and you've got to go through the rest of Time all alone…!)

But it was pleasant, I admit, to discover that the issues had been discussed in detail and so articulately, and that Námo was just as adamantly fair-minded as I had assumed the Lord of Justice to be, and that the Weaver has canonically a tart manner when she gets ruffled.

(It can be seen by this that Amarie is seriously pushing the limits, here — technically she hasn't done anything "wrong" by asserting that she just doesn't want to have anything to do Finrod for the next hundred-forty-four years, but she and everyone else knows perfectly well that she's breaking the spirit of the law against telling your spouse to stay dead…)

 

Ulmo: his role as Finrod's patron is longstanding, and comes from the sequence wherein Finrod and his cousin and close friend Turgon are travelling along the Sirion together, and receive simultaneous but separate dream-warnings to seek out and reinforce safe havens for their followings, which inspiration results in the building of Nargothrond and Gondolin. What exactly this means, and why the other powers find it so exasperating, comes from his role as Loyal Opposition in the Ring of Doom (when he bothers to come at all — he doesn't find it easy to limit himself to the kind of material, land-bound form that his fellow demiurges enjoy) and elsewhere, arguing against the idea of bringing the Eldar to Valinor in the first place, and constantly working to counteract the power of Morgoth — and the doom of the Noldor — throughout Middle-earth wherever his power over water is not completely overwhelmed by pollution.He finally gets a chance to explain in full what he's trying to accomplish and how, to Beren's as-yet-unborn cousin Tuor, the one who in Beleriand most clearly hears his call and is willing to help, and does so to an extent that no one else in Beleriand, Man or Elf, has shared, as he commissions the mortal as his prophet before sending him to warn Turgon and the Noldor of impending crisis. (All of which is set forth in the fragmentary chronicle, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin," UT.) But, in brief, it's his job to argue, defy, and subvert, because monolithic unanimity without dissenting opinions isn't good for any ruling body, celestial demiurges or not. After all, he's the Power of the Deeps, and that's what water does, as well as to heal, purify, provide easy communication and transport, quench thirst, and sooth the soul…

—But if it weren't the case that Ulmo had chosen Finrod to carry out his work in Middle-earth first, then it would be very natural to assume that Tulkas was his particular patron, (rather than Aulë by default of his Noldor heritage.)

 

 Taliska: as remarked in earlier acts, this, the native language of the Bëorings, was derived like that of the people of Hithlum and Brethil from the Elven dialects of the eastern Moriquendi who befriended the ancient Edain and taught them, but these dialects, which survived in part to become incorporated in what would become eventually Westron, are very different from both Quenya and Sindarin. That Finrod could intuitively comprehend their speech and learn it by first mindspeaking with the tribe of Balan is indicative of his unusual abilities in this area (due no doubt in part to the fact that unlike most in Aman, he came from a bilingual family to begin with.)

"Barbarous" is a linguistic joke, but also fairly apt: the word barbarian refers to those foreigners who did not speak Greek as their native tongue, and thus were obviously "not from around here" nor civilized. (Literally, it means people who go "bar, bar, bar," instead of speaking "real" words; the nearest American equivalent to this Classical jibe would probably be "spic.") Thus, what his friend (who earlier, recall, did not say "there's nothing wrong with your accent," but "you can't help your accent," which isn't the same thing — but the Dead must speak truthfully) in essence says is —Yes, you're a hick, and you talk funny — now, are you going to let that stop you?

 

Námo is the avatar of Justice in Arda. Justice is not sentimental. (Nor is giving consolation the proper function of that office.) The fact that other people have and will continue to fall down on the job does not in and of itself make it so that Beren's not failing in his own duty ought to be rated higher in consequence. (Justice doesn't grade on a curve, so to speak.) The Doomsman is not mean. He's just not nice.

 

Regarding the attempted rescue of other Silmarils: in fairy-tale terms, it's inevitable — that whatever it is that shouldn't be done, which will arouse the guards of the sought-for entity on the quest, will happen. Prince Ivan takes the gorgeous bridle, not the rope halter, because it is more fitting for the finest horse in the world, and the spell of sleep is broken in the quest for the Firebird. Murphy's Law is always operative, such stories would seem to remind us. But the specific rationale is not my own invention. Although this complaint has bothered me ever since I encountered it on Usenet, and the obvious corollary never seeming to be asked — so, having come this far, with all the history lying behind, you'd just leave the others there without trying? Really? (And if so, what's wrong with you?) — the two key words themselves are there in the original texts: save, and free:

"Again he stooped and strove afresh
one more of the holy jewels three
that Fëanor wrought of yore to free.
But round those fires was woven fate:
not yet should they leave the halls of hate…"

in the first rescenscion, and in the second,

"Behold! the hope of Elvenland,
the fire of Fëanor, Light of Morn
before the sun and moon were born,
thus out of bondage came at last,
from iron to mortal hand it passed.
There Beren stood. The jewel he held,
and its pure radiance slowly welled
through flesh and bone, and turned to fire
with hue of living blood. Desire
then smote his heart their doom to dare,
and from the deeps of Hell to bear
all three immortal gems, and save
the elven-light from Morgoth's grave.
Again he stooped; with knife he strove;
through band and claw of iron it clove.
But round the Silmarils dark Fate
was woven: they were meshed in hate,
and not yet come was their doomed hour
when wrested from the fallen power
of Morgoth in a ruined world,
regained and lost, they should be hurled
in fiery gulf and groundless sea,
beyond recall while Time should be…"

That the Silmarils are alive, and in some sense yearn for their native elements, derives from Silm. itself:

"Yet that crystal was to the Silmarils but as is the body to the Children of Ilúvatar: the house of its inner fire, that is within it and yet in all parts of it, and is its life. And the inner fire of the Silmarils Fëanor made of the blended light of the Trees of Valinor, which lives in them yet, though the Trees have long withered and shine no more. Therefore even in the darkness of the deepest treasury the Silmarils of their own radiance shone like the Stars of Varda; and yet, as were they indeed living things, they rejoiced in light and received it and gave it back in hues more marvellous than before."

They can be described in a sense as being "cuttings" of the Two Trees, in that they are independent of the parent organisms the way that botanical life can reproduce (though not in a natural manner), and capable of surviving (so to speak) thus detatched; but there is a sense in which they are more like artificial seeds, since, imprisoned in their unbreakable crystal shells, they do not grow and change the way the Trees did, but remain perpetually limited and in potentia, while beautiful in themselves.

So — greed and stupidity, or foolhardy selflessness? Your call — but read the words. But it's clear from the texts that it isn't a punishment, (as I have read one essayist declare), a sort of divine cause-and-effect wherein the Valar hit Beren with the loss of his hand as a penalty for the arrogance of trying to take all of them. (For one thing, the Powers don't have that kind of clout, quite apart from whether they would.) It's just destiny — which is a fancier way of saying "stuff happens, bad and good, and sometimes things work out and sometimes they don't."

 

 

revenge: the pledge to avenge Barahir if it took him to Angband itself, mentioned in Scene II, as recounted here in LL2, Canto III:

"There Beren laid his father's bones
in haste beneath a cairn of stones;
no graven rune nor word he wrote
o'er Barahir, but thrice he smote
the topmost stone, and thrice aloud
he cried his name. 'Thy death,' he vowed,
'I will avenge. Yea, though my fate
should lead at last to Angband's gate.'
And then he turned, and did not weep:
too dark his heart, the wound too deep.
Out into night, as cold as stone,
loveless, friendless, he strode alone.

—which is significant not simply for being fulfilled in a way the maker never could have imagined, but for the fact that Beren's response to his father's death is described in the exact terms of his later emotional state following Finrod's killing.

 

Endymion, Tithonus & Utnapishtim: these three mythical characters are very much present in the audience, nodding knowingly from the gallery at the arguments and counterarguments. Both of the first two were Classical figures, mortal men who were loved by celestial women, and whose situations are not exactly enviable. Utnapishtim was a Mesopotamian folk hero who received immortality and found it a very ambiguous gift. Endymion is the most famous, but his fate hinges on that of the less fortunate Tithonus, a royal scion of Troy, who caught the fancy of Eos, goddess of morning, (made famous by Homer as "the rosy-fingered dawn.")

Eos apparently was cursed, by none other than the inconsistent Aphrodite, for helping Ares to cheat on her (with whom the goddess of love was cheating on her husband Hephaestus.) Her doom? To always fall in love with mortals, whom she was thus bound to lose. One of these was the well-known hunter-hero Orion. Tithonus never got a constellation, because technically he isn't dead — after a number of these short-lived love affairs, Eos had the brilliant idea of asking Zeus to give her latest inamorato the gift of endless life.

Unfortunately, it didn't occur to them that endless life and endless youth are not the same thing, until it was too late. Tithonus got older and more decrepit until Eos couldn't stand to be around him any longer, though he remained living (such as it was) in luxury in her palace for centuries. Eventually Prince Tithonus grew so bent and withered that he was changed into a grashopper, and became an Olympian cautionary tale against falling in love with mortals.

Selene, the sister of Eos and charioteer of the moon — who may or may not be supposed to be identical with Diana in this story, being real mythology, it isn't very clear all the time — also spotted a handsome young man asleep on a hillside one night while she was doing her rounds. This was Endymion, who was either a shepherd, a king, or both, and who received a slightly different, but no less ambiguous gift, from the moon-goddess. Remembering the Tithonus disaster, Selene asked Zeus to give him a sleep of eternal youth, thus ensuring that he would always be handsome, healthy — and, as it happens, helpless to leave, argue, or complain. The ideal dream-lover, so to speak; true, he can't do much, but Selene had thought out the pros and cons before making her decision and factored it all in…

Utnapishtim was the Mesopotamian "Noah-figure" of their Flood story — which differs somewhat from the Biblical version in that people aren't in trouble because they've done anything specific like engaging in continuous warfare, but simply because they're noisy and get on the nerves of the Elder Gods. (It also differs in that the Elder Gods are a bunch of drunks, who frequently get each other snockered as a way of pulling fast ones on each other, and many of the inherent flaws of humanity are due to the fact that the rival goddesses who shaped people were doing shots at the time.) However, the counter-agent-figure of Mesopotamian mythology, who doesn't agree with the plan of wiping out people, and finds a sneaky way around the classifcation order, is none other than Enki, Lord of the Waters, who tells the plan not to his friend Utnapishtim, but to the walls of Utnapishtim's house. The construction of a huge ship and Flood follow, Men survive, the other Elder Gods relent, and Utnapishtim receives immortality as the due of his wisdom and efforts.

However, this turns out to have been a dubious gift — if it was meant that way at all. Gilgamesh, seeking immortality himself, encounters Utnapishtim in his wanderings, as an ancient, decrepit figure all alone, having outlived all his family, and eternal life not being able to counteract the natural aging process of mortality. —Not a pleasant prospect. (I say nothing, nothing at all of bread nor insufficiencies of butter—)

Thus, when later another mortal hero gets in trouble for busting the wing of the West Wind, and Enki tells him to answer the summons to the Gods' mountain, but also how to get out of the charge with a successful defense, he counsels Adapa against eating or drinking anything there, because it will cost him his mortal life.

Now there are two ways of looking at it: Enki (aka Ea —!) is an ambivalent god, generally benevolent, but unpredictable or at least jealous enough of divine status to try to cheat Adapa out of what is offered him by lying to him that he will die if he sups with the Gods. —Or, alternately, he saw what happened to Utnapishtim and realized that eternal continuation without eternally-renewed strength is not something that is good for anybody. The myths, of course, don't say one way or the other. Most commentators on the Adapa story interpret it the first way — but none of them seem to consider the myths as a unity, in the light of both the friendship of the Lord of all Waters with the Ark-maker and Gilgamesh's encounter with his ancient progenitor. Taken all together, it becomes far less simple and clear-cut.

(And yes, JRRT was familiar with Near Eastern mythology, too.)

 

 Question of mortality passing faster, or seeming to go faster, in Aman: this comes up much later, in the growing determination of the descendents of the Edain to "have it all," challenging the Eldar over their faith in mortals' eternity and demanding that they be allowed to sail West as well as east. Whether or not, as the chronicles speculate, the too-powerful ambiance of Valinor would overwhelm mortal physiology and cause Men to burn out faster there, or whether it might merely seem that way, due to the fact of there being no "time markers" such as we are used to in a harsher climate and history, that a mortal lifespan would seem to fly by like no time at all, the problem of being the only sentients which aged in an ageless paradise is a real one. Would there be less resentment, or more? These future events chronicled in Silm., "Akallabeth," play as strongly into this scene and themes of this act as events of the First and Third Ages and the Before-Time of the Song.

 

"Fëanor himself, maybe, wrought them, in days so long ago that the time cannot be measured in years."(LOTR:TTT, "The Palantir")

The need to convert times points up the fact that everything was different in the Time of the Trees, in a way which can hardly be comprehensible to someone born under and knowing only the Years of the Sun — and vice versa. The Sea-Mew, killed in darkness, has never seen either the sun or moon, or experienced time as it now runs, "swiftly," in the world outside the Halls, and has no frame of reference by which to make an equation; Beren, who has never known anything but the present state of things, also has no way of understanding the relative measurements, so it must fall to one of the returnees who has experienced both modes to render it comprehensible for both of them (or rather, to give Maiwë the equations necessary for her to be able to do so.)

 

Gildor: that Gildor of the Outlaws was named after the same Gildor Inglorion who speaks to Frodo on the road in LOTR:FOTR is not a far-out assumption. Gildor the Elf is one of those from Aman, originally part of Finrod's following. The Edain names are all either known to be those of real Elves, or of Elvish derivation linguistically, and it isn't unlikely that Gildor, Barahir's mortal follower, was named after another notable of their common overlord — perhaps for a friend or comrade of the man's father or grandfather, from whom the name was borrowed. This exchange also points up one way that Gildor-met-in-the-Third-Age might have plausibly gotten to the lands east of the Ered Luin before that time, though there could be others — but more importantly, that niggling little historical fact that everything has to get from one point to another somehow, some concrete how, (though it may be lost to us) whether it be name or object or news or person.

 cousin: there's no way of knowing how many living cousins Beren had during his own lifetime, given the number of siblings his parents had, and the tribal connections of the Edain, but as in the earlier story I have taken the liberty of positing interactions in peaceful years with those two younger ones unfortunate enough to be known to history. Morwen and Rían had to learn their wilderness survival skills somewhere to begin with, after all.

 

 hamsoken: a medieval English legal term reflecting the conviction that it is worse to come onto someone else's property and attack them in their own home than to simply get in a fight in a public place or commit highway robbery — adding insult to injury, as it were.

 

Eldar: Per Silm., Orome called all the Elves at Cuivienen "Eldar," the People of the Stars. Some of them later decided that it only applied to those of them who'd gotten to Aman. I feel pretty sure that the rest of the Umanayar, the people who didn't get to Aman, would have strongly disagreed with that attempt to corral the name and lay claim to the symbolic stars thereby, and that the Valar, for whom language and names were clumsy things necessary for interfacing with material dimensions, would have thought it all pointless and silly divisiveness.

 

 Beren's demand for answers, and The Meaning of Life is, of course, a re-envisioning of the climactic scenes of another work of literature — The Book of Job. It also comes completely out of the Silmarillion: if his words are familiar, that's because he's invoking, somewhat consciously, but even more so without conscious recollection, Fëanor's words to the Powers at the Darkening, and voicing as well the unconfronted doubts of Bereg, which continued to simmer even among the faithful Edain, voiced in later generations by Andreth and Morwen. That the dangers in demanding direct revelation from the gods come not from the likelihood of being zapped with a thunderbolt for "impiety" but in the problem of not being able to cope with that much unshielded creative power can be found in myths like that of Semele, or the accounts of seers being left catatonic after encounters with the Divine; that the consequence of getting what you demand from the reluctant gods can be a cautionary tale shows up in Aesop, and elsewhere. "He who asks questions cannot escape the answers," goes an old African proverb, tellingly.

 

 

 

 

Gamma's Notes: the words of the philosopher end here, with as much left unexplained, sourced, and delved as ever was complied. From here onward, the only notes are mine. However, I have endeavored to piece together more of the sources and work that this final act draws on. This is very much a work in progress; and I will continue to make edits here as I find further bits of lore that were drawn upon.

Scene V.xi

insane and deluded? Yes, Thingol called her that and more. LB, LL1, speaking to Daeron:

" and watch that Lúthien – daughter mine,
what madness doth thy heart entwine,
what web from Morgoth’s dreadful halls
hath caught thy feet and thee enthralls! –
that she bid not this Beren flee
back whence he came. I would him see"

when commanding him to follow and spy with archers, in case Beren tried to run. Later, to her face, came this gem:

He sent for Lúthien, and said:
‘Oh maiden fair, what hath thee led
to ponder madness and despair
to wander to ruin, and to fare
from Doriath against my will,
stealing like a wild thing men would kill
into the emptiness outside?’

The rest is inferred both from the above verses, and that in every version of the Tale that ever was, her confinement in Hírilorn is to last "until the spell of madness left her." While the lay gives us no details on what else they said, she refused to change her mind and vow "by love or threat, her folly to forget, nor meek remain in Doriath, her father's will to seek." Yeah. Nasty.

 

Scene V.xix

The various plans Luthien references discussing with Huan come from LT2, the Tale of Tinuviel, and are cited as varios Synopsis for Cantos in LB.

SCENE: V.xxix

Luthien's statement about not calling anyone who thinks "I have to go to Angband and get killed because your father will never approve of me" sane is not quite giving credit to the power of oaths in this setting. Beren's exact words, as taken from LB, the great argument that has been quoted in part above, are:

"for never more to Doriath
can Beren find the winding path,
though Thingol willed it or allowed;
for to thy father there I vowed
to come not back save to fulfill
the quest of the shining Silmaril
and win by valor my desire."

The emphasis on the word find is entirely my own, but it's use and implications are interesting. Is Beren simply being a stubborn idiot who refuses to accept defeat and is being moved by greater powers than he? Or is he caught in a Oath of his owon making, that binds him from making it into Doraith? The text implies the latter. This is made more interesting by the original scene in Menegroth, which includes no such oath, simply in the Tale : "nay but 'tis too small a gift to the father of so sweet a bride. Strange nonetheless seem the customs of the woodland elves that thou shhouldst name the gift unoffered, yet lo! I Beren will fulfill thy small desire," which holds an impled, 'and I won't come back untill I do', but still...

In LL1, the claim is virtually identical, but in verse:

"for little price do elven-kings
their daughters sell - for gems and rings
and things of gold! If such thy will,
thy bidding I will now fulfill.
On Beren son of Barahir
thou hast not looked the last, I fear."

Where does this stubborn insistence come from? There are refernces through the entire act to hostility between Luthien and Melian, as well, suported by the implications in the lay that it was Melian's doing that Beren chose to go after the Silmaril; most notably that he grew "sudden sad"  in LL2 when they reached her protections.

"Passing beneath the guarding spell
that Melian on the borders laid
of Thingol's land. There now they stayed;
for silence sad on Beren fell.

Carcharoth chasing deer :  this is from the Tale of Tinuviel again. Not 'till he was fast asleep in dreams of great chases in the Woods of Hilsómë when he was but a whelp did her dancing cease, and the twain entered the dark portals beyond.

 

Scene V.xxxv

The varios songs here are historical folklore that most people would have known some variation on: the Demon Lover, also known as the House Carpenter, is presented here with its most common lyrics. The is a variant on one mostly known as the Elf-Knight- though I myself have only heard it once.