Reader: The Silmarillion. Ainulindalë

Reader deep thought: The ultimate song-and-dance number aka while having too many cooks spoil the broth, one diva is all it takes to make it all about him.
“Some of these thoughts he now wove into his music, and straightway discord arose about him, and many that sang nigh him grew despondent, and their thought was disturbed and their music faltered; but some began to attune their music to his rather than to the thought which they had at first. Then the discord of Melkor spread ever wider, and the melodies which had been heard before foundered in a sea of turbulent sound. But Ilúvatar sat and hearkened until it seemed that about his throne there was a raging storm, as of dark waters that made war one upon another in an endless wrath that would not be assuaged.”


The Creation Myth of Middle-earth.

  • Eru, the One, Ilúvatar (to the denizens of Arda) made the Ainur.
  • The Ainur, or the Holy Ones, were children of his thought, who he kindled into life with “the Flame Imperishable”. Each came from a specific part of his mind.
  • Music was the medium of education for the Ainur. And they sang for his pleasure, solo or in small groups at first.
  • Then Eru declared the theme in his mind to all the Ainur and they began to harmonise and sing in unison for a “Great Music”.
  • The First Theme created all that existed.

Then the voices of the Ainur, like unto harps and lutes, and pipes and trumpets, and viols and organs, and like unto countless choirs singing with words, began to fashion the theme of Ilúvatar to a great music; and a sound arose of endless interchanging melodies woven in harmony that passed beyond hearing into the depths and into the heights, and the places of the dwelling of Ilúvatar were filled to overflowing, and the music and the echo of the music went out into the Void, and it was not void” 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”

  • Of course, as with any jam sessions, improvisation was bound to happen. And the Ainur with the improviso streak was one of Eru’s most promising progeny, Melkor, who was gifted with the abilities of other Ainur, who typically possessed only a specific gift. Perhaps he was too gifted and too much of a smartass (going into the Void and thinking to look for the Flame Imperishable so that he could also create), but he certainly felt he could do as he would, as in his improvisations were not in tandem, nor he did he care, with the greater theme.

He had gone often alone into the void places seeking the Imperishable Flame; for desire grew hot within him to bring into Being things of his own, and it seemed to him that Ilúvatar took no thought for the Void, and he was impatient of its emptiness” Yet he found not the Fire, for it is with Ilúvatar” But being alone he had begun to conceive thoughts of his own unlike those of his brethren”

  • And of course Melkor’s improvisations sowed discord, spread and caused the other Ainur to either falter or changed their themes to fit his.

The original harmony of the Music was thus consumed by a “sea of turbulent sound” until it became like a “raging storm”. At that point, Eru responded by rising from his seat and raising his left hand. It seemed to the Ainur that he then smiled. After his reaction to the Music, a new Theme began amid the chaos.

  • Ultimately Eru rose and set a new theme, a variation of the first, Thus the second theme, to re-create existence. Of course, Melkor again challenged it, and discord rose up against it, and there was a “war of sound more violent than before”. Eventually, Melkor’s Theme triumphed, leading many of the Ainur to stop singing entirely out of dismay.
  • Ilúvatar then rose from his seat again, his expression stern this time. He raised his right hand, and yet another Theme unfolded. Third time’s the charm it seemed for Melkor, and his theme seemed to gain the upperhand, its loud, pompoity in violent opposition to the core “immeasurable sorrow” of the Third Theme. But Melkor’s theme couldn’t assimilate the Great Music. So strong the tension between the two themes. the dwelling of Ilúvatar and even the Void beyond it to shake. Eru stood once more and raised both his arms, “and in one chord, deeper than the Abyss, higher than the Firmament… the Music ceased”. So Three’s the number but not for Melkor. He struck out when Eru rose for the third time, really peeved this time.

In the midst of this strife, whereat the halls of Ilúvatar shook and a tremor ran out into the silences yet unmoved, Ilúvatar arose a third time, and his face was terrible to behold” Then he raised up both his hands, and in one chord, deeper than the Abyss, higher than the Firmament, piercing as the light of the eye of Ilúvatar, the Music ceased.

Then Ilúvatar spoke, and he said: “Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor; but that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Ilúvatar, those things that ye have sung, I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done. And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined”

  • Eru showed the Ainur that in the Void there now was a place, both real and a vision, which was created through and by their singing, by the Great Music. It was the Created World, , set in the Deeps of Time and which was hold that which was to become abode (Arda to the Elves) for the “Children of Ilúvatar” (“Elves and Men, the Firstborn and the Followers”) who came with the third theme.

And this habitation might seem a little thing to those who consider only the majesty of the Ainur, and not their terrible sharpness; as who should take the whole field of Arda for the foundation of a pillar and so raise it until the cone of its summit were more bitter than a needle; or who consider only the immeasurable vastness of the World, which still the Ainur are shaping, and not the minute precision to which they shape all things therein”

  • Eru set a condition on the Ainur who would live in Arda

Thus it came to pass that of the Ainur some abode still with Ilúvatar beyond the confines of the World; but others, and among them many of the greatest and most fair, took the leave of Ilúvatar and descended into it. But this condition Ilúvatar made, or it is the necessity of their love, that their power should thenceforward be contained and bounded in the World, to be within it for ever, until it is complete, so that they are its life and it is theirs” And therefore they are named the Valar, the Powers of the World.

  • Melkor was chiefest among the Ainur eager to settle upon Arda, perhaps fooling the other Ainur as to his intentions but he really “desired rather to subdue to his will both Elves (aka the Eldar) and Men, envying the gifts with which Ilúvatar promised to endow them; and he wished himself to have subjects and servants, and to be called Lord, and to be a master over other wills.”
  • The Valar, the Great Ones, realised the enormity of their pioneering status only when they actually arrived on Arda: “For the Great Music had been but the growth and flowering of thought in the Timeless Halls, and the Vision only a foreshowing; but now they had entered in at the beginning of Time, and the Valar perceived that the World had been but foreshadowed and foresung, and they must achieve it.”
  • Manwë and Aulë and Ulmo were the leaders of the Valar, along with Melkor in the beginning.
  • Manwë was Melkor’s brother, his equal, “and he was the chief instrument
    of the second theme that Ilúvatar had raised up against the discord of Melkor”. So when Melkor declared Arda for his own, Manwë “called unto himself many spirits both greater and less, and they came down into the fields of Arda and aided Manwë, lest Melkor should hinder the fulfilment of their labour for ever, and Earth should wither ere it flowered.”
  • Though they were naturalists, mostly when the Valar took a shape, they looked like super-glammed up Elves: “Now the Valar took to themselves shape and hue; and because they were drawn into the World by love of the Children of Ilúvatar, for whom they hoped, they took shape after that manner which they had beheld in the Vision of Ilúvatar, save only in majesty and splendour.” Though not all the time: “But the shapes wherein the Great Ones array themselves are not at all times like to the shapes of the kings and queens of the Children of Ilúvatar; for at times they may clothe themselves in their own thought, made visible in forms of majesty and dread.”
  • Melkor wasn’t taking any of it laying down of course, “His envy grew then the greater within him; and he also took visible form, but because of his mood and the malice that burned in him that form was dark and terrible” And he descended upon Arda in power and majesty greater than any other of the Valar, as a mountain that wades in the sea and has its head above the clouds and is clad in ice and crowned with smoke and fire; and the light of the eyes of Melkor was like a flame that withers with heat and pierces with a deadly cold.”
  • So began the first ever war on Arda, Valar vs Melkor in the struggle to build and prepare Arda against the domination Melkor desired.
    • What details were known in latter days were passed to the Eldar by the Valar, but they did not share all the juicy bits.
  • But at last Arda was ready for the Elves.

(Relevance: read-along schedule)

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