Reader: The Silmarillion. Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter 1 “Of the Beginning of Days”

ted nasmith_the silmarillion_2_quenta silmarillion_1_of the beginning of days_medReader deep thought: Such a lot of drama just trying to throw the welcoming party for the Elves. Why didn’t the Valar just throw out the Maiar who had been corrupted by Melkor at the get go? Surely they were aware snitches were part of the Melkor issue. Would have saved everybody a lot of trouble if his eyes and ears in the Maiar community were disconnected, wouldn’t it?

“And Melkor knew of all that was done, for even then he had secret friends and spies among the Maiar whom he had converted to his cause; and far off in the darkness he was filled with hatred, being jealous of the work of his peers, whom he desired to make subject to himself. Therefore he gathered to himself spirits out of the halls of Eä that he had perverted to his service, and he deemed himself strong.”

SUMMARY NOTES

So at last, here it begins, the “History of the Silmarils”, which numbers three.

The Valar and Maiar laboured greatly on the prep for the Eldar’s welcoming party.

Even before the first Elves awoke, the Valar and the Maiar strove greatly against Melkor, the First War in the reckoning of the wise, even as Arda was still being formed. Only with the entry of Tulkas the Strong, an Ainur from the beyond the Void that entered the fray late, did the Valar gained the upperhand on Melkor.

Tulkas, having earned the eternal enmity of Melkor who retreated into the Void to sulk over his defeat, remained and took his place among the Valar. At least there was some peace and quiet in which the Valar could attend to bringing order into Arda, making and repairing things – seas, mountains, seed sprouting, bringing forth living things, and to light again the world, darkened since the fires of yore were “subdued or buried beneath the primeval hills”. The Spring of Arda had come.

In that time the Valar brought order to the seas and the lands and the mountains, and Yavanna planted at last the seeds that she had long devised. And since, when the fires were subdued or buried beneath the primeval hills, there was need of light, Aulë at the prayer of Yavanna wrought two mighty lamps for the lighting of the Middle-earth which he had built amid the encircling seas. Then Varda filled the lamps and Manwë hallowed them, and the Valar set them upon high pillars, more lofty far than are any mountains of the later days. One lamp they raised near to the north of Middle-earth, and it was named Illuin; and the other was raised in the south, and it was named Ormal; and the light of the Lamps of the Valar flowed out over the Earth, so that all was lit as it were in a changeless day.

Then the seeds that Yavanna had sown began swiftly to sprout and to burgeon, and there arose a multitude of growing things great and small, mosses and grasses and great ferns, and trees whose tops were crowned with cloud as they were living mountains, but whose feet were wrapped in a green twilight. And beasts came forth and dwelt in the grassy plains, or in the rivers and the lakes, or walked in the shadows of the woods. As yet no flower had bloomed nor any bird had sung, for these things waited still their time in the bosom of Yavanna; but wealth there was of her imagining, and nowhere more rich than in the midmost parts of the Earth, where the light of both the Lamps met and blended. And there upon the Isle of Almaren in the Great Lake was the first dwelling of the Valar when all things were young, and new-made green was yet a marvel in the eyes of the makers; and they were long content.

So the Valar made their first home on Almaren, in prehistoric Arda. Manwe threw a party as the great beings rested from their labour, and Tulkas, having exerted himself protecting Arda and lending muscle wherever it was needed, had a breather, and took the opportunity to take Nessa, Orome’s sister, to wife.

There was not the end of the story, of course. Melkor, who had friends and spies among the Maiar, took the lull in the Valar’s labours and vigilance, to come charging once again into Arda while Tulkas snoozed.

One of the reasons Melkor’s advance was not detected was apparently because he had “grown dark as the Night of the Void”, thereby passing “over the Walls of the Night with his host, and came to Middle-earth far in the north; and the Valar were not aware of him.”

Yet, even though Melkor escaped detection long enough to complete his new pad, charmingly christened “Utumno”, “a vast fortress, deep under Earth, beneath dark mountains where the beams of Illuin were cold and dim”, still the evidence of the Melkor effect was clear.

And though the Valar knew naught of it as yet, nonetheless the evil of Melkor and the blight of his hatred flowed out thence, and the Spring of Arda was marred. Green things fell sick and rotted, and rivers were choked with weeds and slime, and fens were made, rank and poisonous, the breeding place of flies; and forests grew dark and perilous, the haunts of fear; and beasts became monsters of horn and ivory and dyed the earth with blood. Then the Valar knew indeed that Melkor was at work again, and they sought for his hiding place.

Interestingly, Melkor struck first, even as the Valar began looking for him, where he “assailed the lights of Illuin and Ormal, and cast down their pillars and broke their lamps”. The effect was terrible disaster and chaos throughout Arda

In the overthrow of the mighty pillars lands were broken and seas arose in tumult; and when the lamps were spilled destroying flame was poured out over the Earth. And the shape of Arda and the symmetry of its waters and its lands was marred in that time, so that the first designs of the Valar were never after restored.

Melkor scooted back into Utumno before the Valar caught him, and he knew fear then. But he was safe, and no one was happy. And Almaren was no more. The Valar retreated to Aman, where in fortification they raised the Pelóri, highest mountains of Arda, and from the summit of the highest peak, Taniquetil, where he and Varda could survey all the world, Manwë ruled.

Behind the Pelóri, Valinor was delved, which was “more beautiful even than Middle-earth in the Spring of Arda; and it was blessed, for the Deathless dwelt there, and there naught faded nor withered, neither was there any stain upon flower or leaf in that land, nor any corruption or sickness in anything that lived; for the very stones and waters were hallowed.”

Within Valinor was the city of the Valar established: Valmar of many bells. Before Valmar’s western gate was a green mound, Ezellohar, where Yavanna caused the Two Trees of Valinor to be, Telperion and Laurelin.

The one had leaves of dark green that beneath were as shining silver, and from each of his countless flowers a dew of silver light was ever falling, and the earth beneath was dappled with the shadows of his fluttering leaves. The other bore leaves of a young green like the new-opened beech; their edges were of glittering gold. Flowers swung upon her branches in clusters of yellow flame, formed each to a glowing horn that spilled a golden rain upon the ground; and from the blossom of that tree there came forth warmth and a great light. Telperion the one was called in Valinor, and Silpion, and Ninquelótë, and many other names; but Laurelin the other was, and
Malinalda, and Culúrien, and many names in song beside.

With Telperion’s first bloom came the Opening Hour, and the beginning of the reckoning of Time.

In seven hours the glory of each tree waxed to full and waned again to naught; and each awoke once more to life an hour before the other ceased to shine. Thus in Valinor twice every day there came a gentle hour of softer light when both trees were faint and their gold and silver beams were mingled. Telperion was the elder of the trees and came first to full stature and to bloom; and that first hour in which he shone, the white glimmer of a silver dawn, the Valar reckoned not into the tale of hours, but named it the Opening Hour, and counted from it the ages of their reign in Valinor. Therefore at the sixth hour of the First Day, and of all the joyful days thereafter, until the Darkening of Valinor, Telperion ceased his time of flower; and at the twelfth hour Laurelin her blossoming. And each day of the Valar in Aman contained twelve hours, and ended with the second mingling of the lights, in which Laurelin was waning but Telperion was waxing. But the light that was spilled from the trees endured long, ere it was taken up into the airs or sank down into the earth; and the dews of Telperion and the rain that fell from Laurelin Varda hoarded in great vats like shining lakes, that were to all the land of the Valar as wells of water and of light. Thus began the Days of the Bliss of Valinor; and thus began also the Count of Time.

Yavanna and Oromë returned often to Middle-earth, to salvage, mend in Yavanna’s case or drive off or thin the ranks of Melkor’s hordes in Oromë’s, on his white horse Nahar and sounding the Valaróma his great horn. Yes, the prep for the Eldar’s welcoming party continues.

Meantime, with all this happening, Ilúvatar had time to think. And that’s when he decided what the Quendi and the Atani would differ in. Beauty for the Quendi and bliss in the world, and the pre-requisite bound-fate in return for their immortality within Arda. But the restless exploratory spirit, innovation, and free-will to choose and shape their own fate he gave to the Atani, and mortality. The uncertainty of being after death belonged to the Atani, but the uncertainty of existence beyond Arda plagued the Quendi.

It is one with this gift of freedom that the children of Men dwell only a short space in the world alive, and are not bound to it, and depart soon whither the Elves know not. Whereas the Elves remain until the end of days, and their love of the Earth and all the world is more single and more poignant therefore, and as the years lengthen ever more sorrowful. For the Elves die not till the world dies, unless they are slain or waste in grief (and to both these seeming deaths they are subject); neither does age subdue their strength, unless one grow weary of ten thousand centuries; and dying they are gathered to the halls of Mandos in Valinor, whence they may in time return. But the sons of Men die indeed, and leave the world; wherefore they are called the Guests, or the Strangers. Death is their fate, the gift of Ilúvatar, which as Time wears even the Powers shall envy. But Melkor has cast his shadow upon it, and confounded it with darkness, and brought forth evil out of good, and fear out of hope. Yet of old the Valar declared to the Elves in Valinor that Men shall join in the Second Music of the Ainur; whereas Ilúvatar has not revealed what he purposes for the Elves after the World’s end, and Melkor has not discovered it.

No wonder the Quendi and the Atani developed such a complex mutual complex!

The Elves probably hit it closer to home than Manwë would admit publicly.

Yet the Elves believe that Men are often a grief to Manwë, who knows most of the mind of Ilúvatar; for it seems to the Elves that Men resemble Melkor most of all the Ainur, although he has ever feared and hated them, even those that served him.

It must irk the Firstborn so, that the Followers seemed especially doted on by the Powers.

Footnotes

Lay of the land

First iteration of Arda (before the First War)

  • Ekkaia (the Encircling Seas, the Outer Ocean)
    • Arda (Little Kingdom)
      • Aman
      • Belegaer (the Great Sea, the Sundering Seas)
        • Outer Lands
          • Middle-earth
            • Great Lake
              • Almaren
            • Utumno
  • Walls of Night

Second iteration of Arda (after the First War)

  • Ekkaia (the Encircling Seas, the Outer Ocean)
    • Arda (Little Kingdom)
      • Aman (Blessed Realm)
        • The Pelóri
          • Taniquetil (Oiolossë Everlasting Whiteness, Elerrína Crowned with Stars, Amon Uilos)
        •  Valinor
          • Valmar (Valimar)
            • Ezellohar (Corollairë)
              • the Two Trees of Valinor
                • Telperion (Silpion, Ninquelótë)
                • Laurelin (Malinalda, Culúrien)
            • Ring of Doom (Máhanaxar)Valinor
      • Belegaer (the Great Sea, the Sundering Seas)
        • Outer Lands
          • Middle-earth
            • Utumno
  • Walls of Night

(Relevance: read-along schedule)

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