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  1. #1
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    A bothering detail: Tolkien and Moria

    Doors of Durin, West-gate, Hollin Gate, West-door of Moria... by whatever name, we're all more or less familiar with the ithildin-covered doors through which both the Fellowship and our characters enter the ancient halls of Dwarrowdelf.
    Made together by the greatest craftsmen of their time, the Noldo Celebrimbor and the dwarf Narvi during the Second Age, they even signed their work, using tengwar in the mode of Beleriand.

    "Ennyn Durin Aran Moria. Pedo Mellon a Minno. Im Narvi hain echant. Celebrimbor o Eregion tiethant i thiw hin."
    ("The doors of Durin, King of Moria. Speak, friend, and enter. I, Narvi, made them. Celebrimbor of Hollin drew these signs.")

    For as long as life was fine, the doors remained open; when the war between Sauron and elves erupted, the doors were closed, and none could breach them, unless they knew the password.
    Then the times changed, the Balrog was awakened, the dwarved slain or driven away, the Dwarrowdelf renamed Moria by the elves, the orcs and goblins claiming the halls and killing all who dared approach until it resulted in the battle of Azanulbizar and a brief victory for the dwarves.

    Now we'll get to the bit that's bothered me practically always...
    Why is Khazad-dûm called Moria in the Hollin Gate inscription?

  2. #2
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    I believe the elves called it Moria since it's founding....refering to the "Dark Pit" as an unlit cavern rather than a pit of evil.

  3. #3
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    Yeah, it was not like Mirkwood and renamed.
    [URL="http://www.siglaunch.com/sigs/index.php"][IMG]http://www.siglaunch.com/sigs/wsiga.php/5968332UFpFk.png[/IMG][/URL]

  4. #4
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    Yeah Khazad-Dum is its Khuzdul name. If the Elves even knew it at the time, I doubt the Dwarves would want them to, much less inscribe it on the door in a silly foreign tongue.
    Last edited by Curandhras; Aug 09 2012 at 05:34 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironcrown View Post
    I believe the elves called it Moria since it's founding....refering to the "Dark Pit" as an unlit cavern rather than a pit of evil.
    However, elves did have a name for it, two even: Hathodrond (Sindarin) and Casarrondo (Quenya), both translation of Dwarrowdelf/Khazad-dûm, both attested as names honouring the halls Durin the Deathless worked on.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daeross View Post
    However, elves did have a name for it, two even: Hathodrond (Sindarin) and Casarrondo (Quenya), both translation of Dwarrowdelf/Khazad-dûm, both attested as names honouring the halls Durin the Deathless worked on.
    I can't speak for the Quenya, but at least the Sindarin Hadhod - rond simply means "cave (or at least underground dwelling of) the Dwarves", whereas Khazad-Dum is more "Mansion of the Dwarves". Perhaps the Dwarves felt that the Sindarin name didn't retain enough grandeur in its connotations. Moria is definitely a description or "title" rather than a name, whereas Hadhodrond could be mistaken by outsiders as the City's actual name? Although there've been plenty of settlements ending in rond.

    Lord of the underground Dwarf dwelling vs Lord of the Dark Pit? I dunno. The latter is certainly more imposing, if your intention was to keep people out who you didn't like, Moria is more perturbing I think.

    Whatever the reason, I imagine the Dwarves would have commissioned and signed off the inscription. If moon-writing has to be written in Tengwar, maybe they favoured Moria over any translations that somewhat diluted the impact of the place.

  7. #7
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    Wall of text, apologies

    I'm going with Tolkien on the translation of Khazad-dûm, Dwarrowdelf, and that Hadhodrond/Casarrondo were the best translations elves could come up with. Specifically mentioned that since the sounds of Khuzdul were strange to elves, they adapted the words to fit their own languages.
    Even though Dwarves are said to be secretive about their language, secretive doesn't mean it was unknown to others; in Silmarillion, for example, it's stated that Khuzdul was "cumbrous and unlovely" to elven ears, and that Dwarves were quicker to take up Elvish than the other way around. It's also stated that "few ever of the Eldar have achieved the mastery of (Khuzdul)."

    Hadhod/Casar + rond/rondo, dwarves + cave/domed chamber or hall. 'Rond' (rondo in Quenya) isn't just any cave, just any niche or grotto, but a grand cave, with high-vaulted ceiling.

    Silmarillion, "Of the Sindar":
    "Themselves they named Khazâd, but the Sindar called them the Naugrim, the Stunted People, and Gonhirrim, Masters of Stone. Far to the east were the most ancient dwellings of the Naugrim, but they had delved for themselves great halls and mansions, after the manner of their kind, in the eastern side of Ered Luin; and those cities were named in their own tongue Gabilgathol and Tumunzahar. To the north of the great height of Mount Dolmed was Gabilgathol, which the elves interpreted in their tongue Belegost, that is Mickleburg; and southward was delved Tumunzahar, by the Elves named Nogrod, the Hollowbold.
    Greatest of all the mansions of the Dwarves was Khazad-dûm, the Dwarrowdelf, Hadhodrond in the Elvish tongue, that was afterwards in the days of its darkness called Moria--- "
    (emphasis mine)

    Best known pieces of Khuzdul are freely sown: their battle-cry, for example, was no secret. Gimli doesn't really hesitate to use the Khuzdul names of Mirrormere (Kheled-zarâm) and Silverlode (Kibil-nâla), or the three notable peaks near Khazâd-dûm (Barazinbar, Zirakzigil, Bundushathûr). There's also the fact that for how many of us does Battle of Nanduhirion ring a bell? Isn't it better known as the Battle of Azanulbizar?
    And on top of that... Galadriel knows Khuzdul, too, in placenames if nothing else, and apparently her pronunciation is top notch enough to impress a Dwarf.

    "Dark is the water of Kheled-zâram, and cold are the springs of Kibil-nâla, and fair were the many-pillared halls of Khazad-dûm in Elder Days before the faqll of mighty kings beneath the stone."
    -Fellowship of the Ring, "The Mirror of Galadriel"

    But the real catch here is...
    Khazâd-dûm wasn't dark. It wasn't unlit. Not as long as Dwarves were the inhabitants. It was 'fair' even for elven eyes to appreciate. Remember Menegroth?

    From Gimli, Fellowship of the Ring, A Journey In The Dark, referencing the former days of Khazad-dûm:
    "These are not holes," said Gimli. "This is the great realm and city of the Dwarrowdelf, And of old it was not darksome, but full of light and splendour, as is still remembered in our songs."

    He also sings a song of Durin's days, which includes this bit:
    "The light of sun and star and moon
    In shining lamps of crystal hewn
    Undimmed by cloud or shade of night
    There shone for ever fair and bright."

    On top of that, while they're in Moria, Gandalf mentions about how the upper levels especially had windows and shafts that guided light; Frodo witnesses the beams during their morning in the 21st Hall, and in the Chamber of Mazarbul.

    As it is, this is one reason why I'm madly in love with Turbine's version of Dwarrowdelf. I love the mirrors. I love Tharâkh Bazân. I love Lumul-Nar. I wish I could get to see it, explore it as it was in its heyday.

    After all else, there is also the fact that Khazad-dûm was not called Moria before the darkness of Durin's Bane took reign. And that is, as Gimli also states, a name given without love.

  8. #8
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    This is a famous...okay, let's call it "famous"...incongruity. In my opinion, the fundamental problem isn't anachronism, as there is at least a little ambiguity about when the name "Moria" came into being. For instance, it's used to describe Khazad-dum in the Second and early Third Age in Appendix A.III and in the Tale of Years. And there's this note in Appendix F.II:

    But Moria is an Elvish name, and given without love; for the Eldar, though they might at need, in their bitter wars with the Dark Power and his servants, contrive fortresses underground, were not dwellers in such places of choice. They were lovers of the green earth and the lights of heaven; and Moria in their tongue means the Black Chasm.

    But that highlights the other issue: an Elf, a supposed friend to Dwarves, etching "The Black Chasm", a name "given without love" on the Durin's own Door seems a serious gaffe, does it not?

    The internal explanation I like best is that "Moria" is some sort of corruption in the text possibly just the illustration. For instance, a more polite name was on the door, Gandalf or a later translator of the Red Book changed this to the familiar "Moria" for the convenience of the Fellowship or later readers, and the illustrator followed suit without noticing the oddity.

    Thinking on this right now, the variation on this that really floats my boat is to imagine that the corruption was introduced in the Door of Durin drawing by the fictional author and illustrator J.R.R. Tolkien, i.e., the imaginary character who the real Tolkien feigns is presenting us with a rediscovered history. I like this especially in light of the later incongruities on Balin's tomb inscription.

    YMMV.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BIGeyedBUG View Post
    --- In my opinion, the fundamental problem isn't anachronism, as there is at least a little ambiguity about when the name "Moria" came into being. For instance, it's used to describe Khazad-dum in the Second and early Third Age in Appendix A.III and in the Tale of Years.
    I re-read those, and yeah...Just a thought:

    "---Then Fëanor rose, and lifting up his hand before Manwë he cursed Melkor, naming him Morgoth, the Black Foe of the World; and by that name only was he known to the Eldar ever after."

    Morgoth is Sindarin. When Fëanor named Melkor Morgoth, he didn't know Sindarin. He, like all his kind, spoke Quenya, in which Morgoth is Moringotto/Moringotho. Most of the names, including Fëanor, are in Sindarin, or emulate it, in Silmarillion. Why not the same would go for the Appendices? The history being written with terms that would be more... familiar... to the readers?

    Quote Originally Posted by BIGeyedBUG View Post
    The internal explanation I like best is that "Moria" is some sort of corruption in the text possibly just the illustration. For instance, a more polite name was on the door, Gandalf or a later translator of the Red Book changed this to the familiar "Moria" for the convenience of the Fellowship or later readers, and the illustrator followed suit without noticing the oddity.

    Thinking on this right now, the variation on this that really floats my boat is to imagine that the corruption was introduced in the Door of Durin drawing by the fictional author and illustrator J.R.R. Tolkien, i.e., the imaginary character who the real Tolkien feigns is presenting us with a rediscovered history. I like this especially in light of the later incongruities on Balin's tomb inscription.
    I like these ideas; it would make sense, really, considering what we know of Tolkien, his thoughts.

    Another explanation might be that yes, the place was called Moria. That Moria was an Elvish translation of the original Khuzdul name that meant, too, Black Pit, Black Chasm. But Moria is not Khazad-dûm, but the place into which Khazad-dûm was built. There are mentions of Deeps that remain in darkness, even at the height of Dwarven might in Khazad-dûm.
    Would this, too, serve as an explanation for the "Aran Moria" in the Doors? That Durin was hailed as king of all of it, not 'just' the Dwarven dwellings?

    Might this explain Balin's tomb, too? That while alive, he did reclaim Khazad-dûm (Uzbad Khazaddumu), and was named Lord of Moria in Westron by those who carved his tombstone as... I don't know? Final act of defiance or a prophecy? To raise him on a higher pedestal?

  10. #10
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    It's just one of those inconsistencies in Tolkien's work. They're inevitable, since he kept changing his mind on things so much.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dorothir View Post
    It's just one of those inconsistencies in Tolkien's work. They're inevitable, since he kept changing his mind on things so much.
    So, so , so true. Good to find someone who shares that acceptance.

    I began this thread because I wanted to see if people could come up with an in-world or 'fanon' explanation.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daeross View Post
    Why not the same would go for the Appendices? The history being written with terms that would be more... familiar... to the readers?
    Of course. And we could talk further about why that's unlikely -and- likely. But if I wasn't clear, I'm looking at the chronology issue in terms of plausabilities as I see them, not certainties. Or, to put it a little differently, there's evidence both ways and no proof either way. (To my knowledge, that is. I wouldn't be shocked if somebody else came up with proof, or something closer to it.)

    OTOH, to my mind it's very much implausible (But not impossible!) that Celebrimbor would have seen the name "Moria" as courteous and appropriate in this setting.

    Another explanation might be that yes, the place was called Moria. That Moria was an Elvish translation of the original Khuzdul name that meant, too, Black Pit, Black Chasm. But Moria is not Khazad-dûm, but the place into which Khazad-dûm was built. There are mentions of Deeps that remain in darkness, even at the height of Dwarven might in Khazad-dûm.
    Would this, too, serve as an explanation for the "Aran Moria" in the Doors? That Durin was hailed as king of all of it, not 'just' the Dwarven dwellings?
    Without thinking about it much, I like it as a notion.

    Might this explain Balin's tomb, too? That while alive, he did reclaim Khazad-dûm (Uzbad Khazaddumu), and was named Lord of Moria in Westron by those who carved his tombstone as... I don't know? Final act of defiance or a prophecy? To raise him on a higher pedestal?
    I mentioned the tomb inscription in connection with the "fictional Tolkien" idea not as much because of Moria but for the slightly jarring use of English (and a little Old Norse) rather than Westron. Obviously these peculiarities would have to be introduced by the modern day "translator", not an ancient Gondorian scribe, or somesuch.

    All of which probably seems like a completely pointless train of thought to most people. Or train-wreck of thought, more likely.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by BIGeyedBUG View Post
    I mentioned the tomb inscription in connection with the "fictional Tolkien" idea not as much because of Moria but for the slightly jarring use of English (and a little Old Norse) rather than Westron. Obviously these peculiarities would have to be introduced by the modern day "translator", not an ancient Gondorian scribe, or somesuch.

    All of which probably seems like a completely pointless train of thought to most people. Or train-wreck of thought, more likely.
    I very much like this train of thought! It works very well in a number of situations and, let's be honest, it's practially endorsed by Tolkien.

 

 

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