Re: Can someone please explain Elven surnames?
The epessë is one of the three categories of Elven names, equivalent to a nickname or honorary title.
Elves were typically given two names (essi) at birth: a father-name and a mother-name. The father-name is often based on the father's own name or (in later times) was derived from old legends. A father-name may actually be the same as the father's, with a suffix added -- such is the case with Gildor Inglorion. A mother-name is given later at birth and had great significance, as Elven mothers are said to hold great insight into the character of their children. It is also believed that mothers have the gift of prophecy in matters concerning their children.
The epessë or the "after-name" is the third type. The after-name is given later in life, but not necessarily by their kin, as a title of admiration. In some circumstances, the epessë is chosen by the Elf himself or herself. An Elf could be referred to by any of the three, but the epessë typically took preference.
In songs and history, the epessë is usually used rather than the essi.
An example is Gil-galad ("Star of Radiance"), which was the mother-name of the last High King of the Noldor. His father-name was Rodnor. Upon becoming king he was given the epessë Ereinion ("Scion of Kings") and called Ereinion Gil-galad.