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  1. #1
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    A Elbereth Gilthoniel!

    The purpose of this thread is to facilitate a discussion on the Elves worship of Varda, or Elbereth. I'm sure I could find what I'm looking for if I just cracked open my copy of The Silmarillion and did a little searching but I'm feeling braindead and most of you are much wiser lore-masters than I so I'll pose the question here.

    The Elves Sam and Frodo meet gallivanting through The Shire, led my Gildor, are singing their hymn to Elbereth. Is their lineage described? Are they Silvan? I ask because I'm curious to understand the Elves' relationship with her; it seems like only those Elves who went to Valinor and returned (mostly Noldor, right?) would be the ones to know and remember Elbereth and then worship her for her light. So how would the Silvan who, if I'm not mistaken, never made it past the Blue Mountains know Elbereth and well enough to sing to her? This is just one example as there are other instances of Elves praising Elbereth. Would they have learnt of her from Elrond, Galadriel, and their ilk?

    Of course there is star connexion: Elves (Eldar) are the children of the stars, no? So perhaps there is an inherent connexion between all Elves and their Lady.

    My lore with Elves is always cross; I always get Calaquendi mixed up with Moriquendi mixed up with Teleri so some help would be most appreciated!
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  2. #2
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    Re: A Elbereth Gilthoniel!

    They are Noldor, not Silvan, one of the few traveling companies of them left in Middle Earth. In fact, their song to Elbereth is how Frodo knows as much as soon as he hears them.

    (As a side note, the company of Elves that the Hobbits meet in the Shire is led by Gildor Inglorian...who we meet in-game in the North Downs as part of Book 3. )

  3. #3
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    Re: A Elbereth Gilthoniel!

    Elbereth (or Varda) was the Valar who created all of the stars. When the elves were first created (awoken) at Cuineven (misspelled that I'm sure), they beheld the stars in the sky as a thing of wonder. Thus the elven "worship" of the stars--or rather, the maker of the stars--dates back to before the sundering of the elves occurred.

    Thus, it wouldn't matter if Gildor's group were Noldor, Sindar, or Silvan elves...all would share in a common devotion to the lady of the stars.

    (That's all from memory but I'm pretty sure it's accurate.)
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  4. #4
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    Re: A Elbereth Gilthoniel!

    Quote Originally Posted by shipwreck View Post
    The Elves Sam and Frodo meet gallivanting through The Shire, led my Gildor, are singing their hymn to Elbereth. Is their lineage described? Are they Silvan?
    Gildor and his band are most certainly Noldor. When Frodo asks the elf who he is, Gildor replies:
    'I am Gildor,' answered their leader, the Elf who had first hailed him. 'Gildor Inglorion of the House of Finrod. We are Exiles, and most of our kindred have long ago departed and we too are now only tarrying here a while, ere we return over the Great Sea.
    There are several clues to Gildor's Noldor lineage among these words. The most obvious clue is that he claims to be of the House of Finrod. This means that he shares some direct connexion to the Noldor elf Finrod. Furthermore, he gives his patryonymic surname as Inglorion. Considering that the -ion ending means "son of" in elvish, this means that Gildor claims the title "Son of Inglor". But, who is Inglor? As it turns out, "Inglor" is the Sindarin form of the Quenya name "Ingalaurë", which was the mother-name of Finarfin. However, there is a bit of an issue here. In an earlier form of the legendarium (when this passage was written), the name "Finrod" actually belonged to the character now known as "Finarfin". This would mean that Gildor actually belongs to the House of Finarfin, but there is yet another issue that confuses things. The name Inglor originally referred to Finrod, rather than Finarfin, meaning that Gildor would be the "son of Finrod". So, Gildor is either the "Son of Finrod" belonging to the "House of Finarfin" or he is the "Son of Finarfin" belonging to the "House of Finrod". Clearly, the former makes more sense, however without any official word from Tolkien to go on, we cannot clear away this issue. You can read more about these issues here: http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Inglo...r.27s_Ancestry

    One final clue to Gildor's Noldor heritage is his statment, "We are Exiles". This would seem to implicate Gildor and his band as followers of Fëanor. Additionally, Gildor explicitly states that they will "return" over the Sea, suggesting that they have already been in Valinor before. Taken together, all of these clues make it more than evident that Gildor is of the Noldor, rather than the Silvan.
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  5. #5
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    Re: A Elbereth Gilthoniel!

    Great post (as always) Reddhawk. I never realized how complex Gildor's background is especially as surrounding the name changes with Finrod/Finarfin. I always loved Gildor's character, going back to the first time I read the LoTR. Much like Sam, it was a mystical experience for me to encounter elves the first time.


    Looking back at Gildor and the link you provided, it seems to me in the end we cannot hold that he was either (directly, literally) the Son of Finrod nor the son of Finarfin. Either of those options would cause horrible problems. It seems almost inconceivable that he could be the son of Finarfin and yet there be no mention of him anywhere in the Silmarillion or the other earlier histories. And as for being son of Finrod, the argument the linked article makes against this is equally strong--if he was the son of Finrod, then he would have been High King of the Noldor, not Gil-galad. So I would propose he is either a lesser relative linked only loosely to Finrod, or (as the article suggests) perhaps of the house of Finrod in the sense of being a "knight" who had fought oh behalf of Finrod's house and in his army.
    Last edited by MithrilSoul; Mar 16 2009 at 01:50 PM.
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  6. #6
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    Re: A Elbereth Gilthoniel!

    Quote Originally Posted by MithrilSoul View Post
    So I would propose he is either a lesser relative linked only loosely to Finrod, or (as the article suggests) perhaps of the house of Finrod in the sense of being a "knight" who had fought oh behalf of Finrod's house and in his army.
    You're absolutely right. I glossed right over that possibility, mainly because I was attempting to reconcile the character with Tolkien's original conception of him. I have no doubt that he was intended to be a direct descendant of either Finrod or Finarfin, however I agree that in the later editions of the legendarium he would have held a looser association to these two. Regardless, the remaining clues still suggest that he was of the Noldor and a potential follower of Fëanor.


    While I'm at it, I also want to address shipwreck's earlier request:
    Quote Originally Posted by shipwreck View Post
    My lore with Elves is always cross; I always get Calaquendi mixed up with Moriquendi mixed up with Teleri so some help would be most appreciated!
    I'm sure this is a much larger explanation than you ever hoped for, but here is my version of the Sundering, written to follow a diagram found on Wikipedia (which matches the version given by Tolkien in the Silmarillion).

    This was originally written to answer the question: "How did the elves determine kin?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Reddhawk View Post
    I've always thought that was pretty clearly defined. Indeed, in Tolkien's works that is referred to as the "Sundering of the Elves". Their kinships are largely distinctions of choice, beginning with the first major decision of whether or not to seek the Light of Valinor.




    Quendi

    In the beginning, you have the 3 fathers of the elves. I'd imagine that the remaining elves would have simply rallied around whichever elf-father they identified with the most (or came across first). Either way, you wind up with the clan distinctions: Minyar ("Firsts"), Tatyar ("Seconds"), Nelyar ("Thirds"). These distinctions, however, were not really that significant as of yet. Thus, the people all referred to themselves as the Quendi ("Those who speak with voices"), after their fashioning of language.


    Eldar / Avari

    Next, you have the whole bit with Oromë the Huntsman. As you know, he stumbled across the elves and took news of their Awakening back to Valinor. It was then decided that he and the Valar would help these people in their plight with Melkor, who had been kidnapping them little by little (presumably for his purpose of corrupting them into Orcs). And so, the elves were summoned to Valinor, with those taking up the call known after the name given them by Oromë, the Eldar ("People of the Stars"); Those who refused the call were afterwards known as the Avari ("The Unwilling").


    Vanyar / Noldor / Teleri

    From here on out, you largely see distinctions among the Eldar. The original three houses of elves took kings and became identified by new names. These leaders, Ingwë; Finwë; Elwë, respectively led the Vanyar ("The Fair", referring to their golden hair), the Noldor ("Those with knowlege"), and the Teleri ("Those who come last"). In the days of the Awakening, the Teleri (then known as the Nelyar), referred to themselves as the Lindar ("singers"), after their fair voices.


    Falmari / Hekeldi / Nandor

    At this point, the remaining major divisions took place mostly among the Teleri. Along their journey west to Valinor, the Teleri thinned in number, as many turned away from the journey. Some of the earliest elves to turn back settled into the forest lands east of the river Anduin. Later, many Teleri became frightened at the sight of the Misty Mountains and refused to cross them. These elves remained along the Anduin under the rule of Lenwë. These elves who gave up the journey before crossing the Misty Mountains, were known after as the Nandor ("Those who turn back"). The remaining Teleri continued on across the Misty Mountains and even the Ered Lindon (Ered Luin), making their way into Beleriand. Here, their king Elwë went missing. In truth, he had wandered into the woodlands of Nan Elmoth and fallen under the enchantment of the maia, Melian, whom he would later wed. As the Valar returned to collect this final band of elves, some refused to carry on without their leader and remained behind in Beleriand, becoming known as the Hekeldi ("Those who were abandoned"). Another group of Teleri decided to continue their journey, taking new leadership under their king's brother Olwë. This group eventually made their way to Aman, where they helped build the Swanhaven of Alqualondë and made music beside the breaking waves of the sea. Indeed, they became so enamoured with the ocean, that they were called the Falmari ("Sea-elves").


    Falathrim / Mithrim / Lathrim

    Yet again, division occurred among the Teleri, this time separating that group hitherto known as the Hekeldi. A portion of this people would have sailed west with their kin (the Falmari), but were persuaded to remain in Beleriand by the maia Ossë, who had fallen in love with the shores of Middle-earth and did not wish to depart. Indeed, it was Ossë from whom they too developed a love of the sea. This group took as their leader an elf by the name of Cirdan, and became known as the Falathrim ("The people of the shore"), after the coastal lands in which they dwelt (Falas). Of those other Teleri, who continued the wait for their lost king, there came another division. Some of them journeyed into the northern region of Beleriand, known as Hithlum, and there dwelt in a land from which they took their name, Mithrim. The remainder of the Teleri lingered in the forest lands where Elwë was lost, becoming known as the Lathrim (quite possibly, "People of the leaves"). Upon his return, they formed the kingdom of Eglador and, along with the aid of the dwarves of Nogrod and Belegost, began construction on the city of Menegroth.


    Laiquendi / Silvan

    Another division arose among the Nandor. In time, those Nandor under the rule of Lenwë, along with their brethren in the forests east of the Anduin, became known as the Silvan (English for "Woodland") elves. Originally, the Nandor had no weapons of steel and were left defenseless against evil beasts that came down out of the north. Having learned about the might of Elwë's kingdom from the dwarves, Denethor, the son of Lenwë, led a band of Nandor to seek safe shelter there. Eventually, this group, having crossed into Beleriand, settled in the green, river lands of Ossiriand and became known as the Laiquendi ("Green-elves").


    Calaquendi / Sindar / Moriquendi

    All those elves that eventually made their way to the Blessed Lands of Aman, to see the light of the two tress in Valinor, were collectively known as the Calaquendi ("The elves of the light"). The Nandor, who turned away from the journey, along with the Avari that refused it, were known collectively as the Moriquendi ("The elves of darkness"). Finally, all the divisions of Hekeldi, who gave up the journey after the disappearance of king Elwë, became collectively know as the Sindar ("Grey-elves"), for they were neither of the light nor the dark.


    Amanyar / Úmanyar / Avamanyar

    The Caliquendi became known also as the Amanyar ("Those of Aman"), for they alone had reached the lands of Aman. The Sindar, along with the Nandor, who had all set out on the journey to Aman, but later gave up, were known also as the Úmanyar ("Those not of Aman"). Finally, the Avari, who never wished to make the journey, were known also as the Avamanyar ("Those who refused Aman").
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  7. #7

    Re: A Elbereth Gilthoniel!

    Quote Originally Posted by MithrilSoul View Post
    Elbereth (or Varda) was the Valar who created all of the stars. When the elves were first created (awoken) at Cuineven (misspelled that I'm sure), they beheld the stars in the sky as a thing of wonder. Thus the elven "worship" of the stars--or rather, the maker of the stars--dates back to before the sundering of the elves occurred.

    Thus, it wouldn't matter if Gildor's group were Noldor, Sindar, or Silvan elves...all would share in a common devotion to the lady of the stars.

    (That's all from memory but I'm pretty sure it's accurate.)
    This would have been my answer as well. A key factor to add is that other than the stars there were no natural light sources illuminating Middle-earth at the time, so the impression the stars made on the newly awakened elves was very great.

    Also, MithrilSoul, I believe the correct spelling you were asking for is Cuivienen.
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  8. Re: A Elbereth Gilthoniel!

    As an aside, the Elves "worship" of Varda is probably based directly on Catholicism's, Tolkien's religion, high regard of Mary.
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  9. #9
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    Re: A Elbereth Gilthoniel!

    Quote Originally Posted by Arasilion View Post
    As an aside, the Elves "worship" of Varda is probably based directly on Catholicism's, Tolkien's religion, high regard of Mary.
    It certainly is. Catholics believe that Mary is referred to in Revelation in the verse: "And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars". The similarities to Varda are obvious.

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    Re: A Elbereth Gilthoniel!

    Quote Originally Posted by MithrilSoul View Post
    Thus, it wouldn't matter if Gildor's group were Noldor, Sindar, or Silvan elves...all would share in a common devotion to the lady of the stars.
    You know, I've been thinking about this. It didn't make much sense to me that any of the elves other than the Calaquendi would recite the name of someone they'd never met or had very little knowledge of. I decided to see if there were any occurrences of a silvan elf speaking the name of Elbereth within the books, but instead I came across this passage:
    The song ended. 'These are High Elves! They spoke the name of Elbereth!' said Frodo in amazement, 'Few of that fairest folk are ever seen in the Shire. Not many now remain in Middle-earth, east of the Great Sea. This is indeed a strange chance!'
    This occurs just before Sam and Frodo meet Gildor and his followers. It seems pretty clear that High Elves can be discerned just by their use of the name Elbereth. To me, this seems to be obvious proof that reverence of Varda is reserved to only a subset of the elves. In fact, throughout The Lord of the Rings the only example of an elf not of the Calaquendi that invokes the name of Elbereth is Legolas:
    ' Elbereth Gilthoniel! ' sighed Legolas as he looked up.
    This, of course, is likely due to his inclusion in the Fellowship, since several of the members, including the hobbits, utter the name of Elbereth at one point or another. Indeed, it seems that her name is one of the few forces, aside from the sheer strength of their companionship, that works in favor of the Fellowship and aids them at various times throughout their quest.
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  11. #11
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    Re: A Elbereth Gilthoniel!

    Legolas is Sindarin, not Silvan--the Silvan realm of Greenwood the Great (later Mirkwood) was ruled be Teleri out of Beleriand, as I recall
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    Re: A Elbereth Gilthoniel!

    Quote Originally Posted by Siegfriedpf View Post
    Legolas is Sindarin, not Silvan--the Silvan realm of Greenwood the Great (later Mirkwood) was ruled be Teleri out of Beleriand, as I recall
    Yep, I'm well aware of that. You'll notice I never said that Legolas was Silvan, only that he wasn't of the Calaquendi.
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  13. #13
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    Re: A Elbereth Gilthoniel!

    Well the OP's question was not about the use of the name itself, but rather, about the devotion to the "person" of Elbereth. And nothing I have seen or read indicates that that devotion was any weaker among the Sindar, or the Moriquendi for that matter, than among the Calaquendi. The names might (actually, would) be different, and the manner in which that devotion was expressed would likely be different as well.

    In the context of that huge chart (very helpful!) which shows the division of the elves, I am not even exactly sure which groups constitute together the "high elves." Is that a term for all the eldar? Or only the Noldor? Anyways, among the Vanyar (who, obviously, being in Aman don't come into the picture here) one would presume their devotion to her is strictly under the name Varda, or other names in languges spoken only in the blessed realm. Among the Noldor, Elbereth would be the most common but some use of Varda would certainly be conceivable. Only among the Sindar would one expect an exclusive use of the name Elbereth.

    So hearing the name Elbereth on the lips of an elf would not, in itself, allow one to identity the kindred of the elf--as such an elf could be a Sinda, or a Noldo, or even perhaps a Silvan elf who had had sufficient enough intermingling with the Sindar to have learned the name of the lady in the Sindarin tongue. (Something *very* believable at the point in the Third Age when LoTR takes place.) Whereas to hear the name "Varda" on the lips of an elf would be an almost certain giveaway that the elf was indeed a Noldo.
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  14. #14
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    Re: A Elbereth Gilthoniel!

    Quote Originally Posted by MithrilSoul View Post
    Well the OP's question was not about the use of the name itself, but rather, about the devotion to the "person" of Elbereth. And nothing I have seen or read indicates that that devotion was any weaker among the Sindar, or the Moriquendi for that matter, than among the Calaquendi. The names might (actually, would) be different, and the manner in which that devotion was expressed would likely be different as well.
    Yes, but the use of the name is the expression of that devotion. As for what form the name would take, it would almost certainly be Elbereth in nearly every situation concerning elves, other than those who remained in Valinor. Remember that Thingol had banned the use of Quenya as a result of the kinslayings and, aside from a few rare or archaic uses of it, Sindarin remained the primary form of elvish spoken in the Third Age.

    Quote Originally Posted by MithrilSoul View Post
    In the context of that huge chart (very helpful!) which shows the division of the elves, I am not even exactly sure which groups constitute together the "high elves." Is that a term for all the eldar? Or only the Noldor? Anyways, among the Vanyar (who, obviously, being in Aman don't come into the picture here) one would presume their devotion to her is strictly under the name Varda, or other names in languges spoken only in the blessed realm. Among the Noldor, Elbereth would be the most common but some use of Varda would certainly be conceivable. Only among the Sindar would one expect an exclusive use of the name Elbereth.
    The term "high elves" is synonymous with the Calaquendi (both those elves that remained in Valinor as well as the Noldor that returned to Middle-earth; Thingol, alone of all the Sindar, was also considered to be among the Calaquendi and thus the High Elves since he had journeyed to Valinor as an ambassador of the Valar.). For the most part, I agree with you here: Elbereth was the most common form of the name, although Varda was used (as it was by Galadriel) occasionally by the Noldor.

    Quote Originally Posted by MithrilSoul View Post
    So hearing the name Elbereth on the lips of an elf would not, in itself, allow one to identity the kindred of the elf--as such an elf could be a Sinda, or a Noldo, or even perhaps a Silvan elf who had had sufficient enough intermingling with the Sindar to have learned the name of the lady in the Sindarin tongue. (Something *very* believable at the point in the Third Age when LoTR takes place.) Whereas to hear the name "Varda" on the lips of an elf would be an almost certain giveaway that the elf was indeed a Noldo.
    I'm going to have to disagree with you here. Clearly, in the passage I quoted, Frodo discerns from the use of the name Elbereth that the elves are High Elves (exiled Noldor). I might be inclined to agree with your position were it not for this passage. It's possible, and really more than likely, that the Sindar and Silvan have heard of Varda or Elbereth (afterall, Frodo has), but I really don't believe that they hold the sort of outward reverence for her that we see from the High Elves. Of course, all elves revere the stars, as evidenced by their early days at Cuiviénen; but the High Elves, having met Varda, hold a deeper insight into matters and therefore revere not only the stars, but also their maker. For the Sindar and Moriquendi, the name of Elbereth is, perhaps, too remote compared with the immediacy of their beloved starlight. Thus, they seem to revere the effect (i.e the stars), rather than the cause (i.e. Elbereth).
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