Reader deep thought: If Túrin’s story was epic in its melodrama and bitterness, a thousand thousandfold that must be Húrin’s lot, for not only was he the horrified, helpless spectator of the entire script Morgoth orchestrated, his part was not ended when his children died. Perhaps the only strand of comfort was his reunion with Morwen before the end. Still, again, Thingol figured greatly; his kingdom brought down utterly, thanks in part to his demise and Melian’s departure. Jewel fixation is a dangerous addiction.
“Sitting in the shadow of the stone there was a woman, bent over her knees; and as Húrin stood there silent she cast back her tattered hood and lifted her face. Grey she was and old, but suddenly her eyes looked into his, and he knew her; for though they were wild and full of fear, that light still gleamed in them that long ago had earned for her the name Eledhwen, proudest and most beautiful of mortal women in the days of old.”
Túrin and Nienor’s passing was not the end of the misery Morgoth heaped on Húrin by any means. He had further plans for the House of Hador’s exploitation, and Morwen wandering around distraught was just another touch.
The worst for Húrin was the knowledge of Morgoth’s scheming that plagued his mind.
… for all that Morgoth knew of the working of his malice Húrin knew also, but lies were mingled with the truth, and aught that was good was hidden or distorted. In all ways Morgoth sought most to cast an evil light on those things that Thingol and Melian had done, for he hated them, and feared them.
When Húrin was finally released, it was certainly not that Morgoth’s heart grew some feelings as he pretended. There was still some use for the utterly de-spirited Húrin in furtherance of his hatred for Elves and Men before the end.
Suspicious as he was of Morgoth’s purpose, Húrin “took his freedom, and went forth in grief, embittered by the words of the Dark Lord”. This was a year since Túrin’s death, and twenty-eight years since he was taken to Angband. In short, he looked terrible, but still he walked tal with a great black staff, and a sword. When he entered Hithlum, the Easterlings gave him wide berth, hearing of “a great riding of captains and black soldiers of Angband over the sands of Anfauglith, and with them came an old man, as one that was held in high honour.” As did the “remnant of his own people” though it was suspicion that kept them away.
Bitterly, he moved on out of Hithlum, and inspired by the sight of the Crissaegrim, decided to make for Gondolin. As he descended from Ered Wethrin, watched by Morgoth’s spies, he crossed the Brithiach into Dimbar, and reached “the dark feet of the Echoriath.” Cold and desolate, it was now a hopeless land, all that was left of the old Way of Escape: the Dry River that was the entrance to Gondolin was blocked, and the arched gate was buried. Nothing stirred but he had been spotted, and Thorondor Lord of the Eagles brought Turgon the news.
But Turgon was convinced Húrin was in Morgoth’s keep and decided to ignore him. And yet, he then regretted his decision, but the Eagles could no longer find the Man.
But the first evil of Húrin had been achieved. For Húrin had stood in despair before the cliffs of the Echoriath at the sunset, and cried in a loud voice his anger and disappointment.
‘Turgon, Turgon, remember the Fen of Serech! O Turgon, will you not hear in your hidden halls?’ But there was no sound save the wind in the dry grasses. ‘Even so they hissed in Serech at the sunset,’ he said; and as he spoke the sun went behind the Mountains of Shadow, and a darkness fell about him, and the wind ceased, and there was silence in the waste.
Thus was Gondolin’s locale exposed to Morgoth, and Húrin went on his way, stumbling into a sleep of deep grief, dreaming of Morwen crying for help, in the direction of the Brethil. So when he woke, that was his heading, back to the Brithiach, and skirting Brethil to the Crossings of Teiglin. There, the night-sentinels who saw him let him pass, so spooked were they by the illusion of “a ghost out of some ancient battle-mound that walked with darkness about it”. He got to the place of the burning of Glaurung, and saw the headstone at the brink of Cabed Naeramarth (formerly Cabed-en-Aras). There he was reunited with Morwen, who died clasping his hand.
Benumbed at first, an anger kindled in his heart, a need to avenge all the wrongs he and his kin suffered. After making a grave for Morwen above Cabed Naeramarth on the west side of the stone, he moved on.
It is told that a seer and harp-player of Brethil named Glirhuin made a song, saying that the Stone of the Hapless should not be defiled by Morgoth nor ever thrown down, not though the sea should drown all the land; as after indeed befell, and still Tol Morwen stands alone in the water beyond the new coasts that were made in the days of the wrath of the Valar.
Húrin crossed over Teiglin and went south down the ancient road to Nargothrond, the visible Amon Rûdh in the east weighing on his mind. Finally passed the Narog and stood before the broken Doors of Felagund, leaning upon his staff. There he met Mîm, who had found his way into Nargothrond, delighting in the hoard Glaurung left behind, and who stopped the Man with his declaration and claim on the spoils of Nargothrond.
‘Then you shall enjoy your inheritance no longer,’ said Húrin; ‘for I am Húrin son of Galdor, returned out of Angband, and my son was Túrin Turambar, whom you have not forgotten; and he it was that slew Glaurung the Dragon, who wasted these halls where now you sit; and not unknown is it to me by whom the Dragon-helm of Dor-lómin was betrayed.’
So Mîm paid for his not-quite betrayal – slain in revenge for Túrin. Húrin lingered within for a while, and taking with only one thing out of the treasure there, he went east to Aelin-uial, above the Falls of Sirion. There he was captured by the march-wardens of Doriath and brought into Thingol’s presence in Menegroth.
The only response he had to Thingol’s warm hospitality was draw forth the treasure he took from Nargothrond: the Nauglamír, the Necklace of the Dwarves, and cast it at Thingol’s feet.
‘Receive thou thy fee,’ he cried, ‘for thy fair keeping of my children and my wife! For this is the Nauglamír, whose name is known to many among Elves and Men; and I bring it to thee out of the darkness of Nargothrond, where Finrod thy kinsman left it behind him when he set forth with Beren son of Barahir to fulfil the errand of Thingol of Doriath!’
Thingol, with pity still in his heart, endured Húrin’s insult with forbearance. Finally Melian spoke and broke Morgoth’s hold on the Edain.
‘Húrin Thalion, Morgoth hath bewitched thee; for he that seeth through Morgoth’s eyes, willing or unwilling, seeth all things crooked. Long was Túrin thy son fostered in the halls of Menegroth, and shown love and honour as the son of the King; and it was not by the King’s will nor by mine that he came never back to Doriath. And afterwards thy wife and thy daughter were harboured here with honour and goodwill; and we sought by all means that we might to dissuade Morwen from the road to Nargothrond. With the voice of Morgoth thou dost now upbraid thy friends.’
Stunned, Húrin gazed long into the eyes of Melian, and shielded by the Girdle of Melian, he understood the truth, and the enormity of Morgoth’s design for him.
And he spoke no more of what was past, but stooping lifted up the Nauglamír from where it lay before Thingol’s chair, and he gave it to him, saying: ‘Receive now, lord, the Necklace of the Dwarves, as a gift from one who has nothing, and as a memorial of Húrin of Dor-lómin. For now my fate is fulfilled, and the purpose of Morgoth achieved; but I am his thrall no longer.’
Húrin left then, to where no one knew, but it seemed he had no will to live thereafter and was said to have cast himself into the Western Sea.
But in Menegroth, Thingol had the brainspark to set the Silmaril into the Necklace.
For as the years passed Thingol’s thought turned unceasingly to the jewel of Fëanor, and became bound to it, and he liked not to let it rest even behind the doors of his inmost treasury; and he was minded now to bear it with him always, waking and sleeping.
The Dwarves still came into Beleriand from Ered Lindon, passing over Gelion at Sarn Athrad, the Ford of Stones, they took the ancient road to Doriath where their great skills in metal and stone work was greatly sought after in Menegroth. Except where they moved in small bands, now they came in large well-armed contingents for protection well armed for against the dangers in the lands between between Aros and Gelion. And in Menegroth they had separate room and board, and smithies.
Thingol commissioned the great craftsmen of Nogrod who were in residence at that time for his grand design. The Dwarves were greatly taken by both the Silmaril and the sight of their forefathers’ masterpiece, but they accepted the commission, with Thingol seemingly none the wiser.
It took a long time, and Thingol was often alone with the craftsmen, but finally it was done.
… and the greatest of the works of Elves and Dwarves were brought together and made one; and its beauty was very great, for now the countless jewels of the Nauglamír did reflect and cast abroad in marvellous hues the light of the Silmaril amidmost. Then Thingol, being alone among them, made to take it up and clasp it about his neck; but the Dwarves in that moment withheld it from him, and demanded that he yield it up to them, saying: ‘By what right does the Elvenking lay claim to the Nauglamír, that was made by our fathers for Finrod Felagund who is dead? It has come to him but by the hand of Húrin the Man of Dor-lómin, who took it as a thief out of the darkness of Nargothrond.’ But Thingol perceived their hearts, and saw well that desiring the Silmaril they sought but a pretext and fair cloak for their true intent; and in his wrath and pride he gave no heed to his peril, but spoke to them in scorn, saying: ‘How do ye of uncouth race dare to demand aught of me, Elu Thingol, Lord of Beleriand, whose life began by the waters of Cuiviénen years uncounted ere the fathers of the stunted people awoke?’ And standing tall and proud among them he bade them with shameful words be gone unrequited out of Doriath.
Enraged, the Dwarves attacked and killed Thingol right there. Then they escaped eastwards to Region but Thingol’s people caught up and killed them before they reached Aros, and brought back the Nauglamír to Melian.
Still, two of Thingol’s killers managed to escape and made it back to Nogrod in Ered Luin where “they told somewhat of all that had befallen, saying that the Dwarves were slain in Doriath by command of the Elvenking, who thus would cheat them of their reward.”
Fuelled by half-truths, Nogrod thirsted for vengence and called for Belegost’s aid, which in fact tried to dissuade Nogrod. So the Dwarves of Nogrod went it alone.
Back in Doriath, change was also afoot.
Melian sat long in silence beside Thingol the King, and her thought passed back into the starlit years and to their first meeting among the nightingales of Nan Elmoth in ages past; and she knew that her parting from Thingol was the forerunner of a greater parting, and that the doom of Doriath was drawing nigh. For Melian was of the divine race of the Valar, and she was a Maia of great power and wisdom; but for love of Elwë Singollo she took upon herself the form of the Elder Children of Ilúvatar, and in that union she became bound by the chain and trammels of the flesh of Arda. In that form she bore to him Lúthien Tinúviel; and in that form she gained a power over the substance of Arda, and by the Girdle of Melian was Doriath defended through long ages from the evils without. But now Thingol lay dead, and his spirit had passed to the halls of Mandos; and with his death a change came also upon Melian. Thus it came to pass that her power was withdrawn in that time from the forests of Neldoreth and Region, and Esgalduin the enchanted river spoke with a different voice, and Doriath lay open to its enemies.
Then after instructing Mablung to send word to Beren and Lúthien in Ossiriand, Melian returned to Valinor to grief in the gardens of Lórien where she lived, vanished from Middle-earth forever.
So the Naugrim host crossed over Aros and entered Doriath unhindered. And they were unstoppable, so many and fierce” they were. The directionless captains of the Grey-elves exacerbated Doriath’s woes. When the Dwarves entered into Menegroth, “there befell a thing most grievous among the sorrowful deeds of the Elder Days.”
For there was battle in the Thousand Caves, and many Elves and Dwarves were slain; and it has not been forgotten. But the Dwarves were victorious, and the halls of Thingol were ransacked and plundered. There fell Mablung of the Heavy Hand before the doors of the treasury wherein lay the Nauglamír; and the Silmaril was taken.
From they lived in Tol Galen upon the River Adurant, Beren and Lúthien received the news. There their son Dior Eluchíl also lived with his wife Nimloth (kinswoman of Celeborn, prince of Doriath, Galadriel’s husband). Dior and Nimloth had three children: two sons, Eluréd and Elurín; and a daughter, Elwing (Star-spray, “for she was born on a night of stars, whose light glittered in the spray of the waterfall of Lanthir Lamath beside her father’s house.”)
Beren mustered the Green-elves and with Dior went north to the River Ascar where they ambushed the Dwarf-host at Sarn Athrad, catching them at unawares on their way home from their plundering.
… as they climbed up Gelion’s banks burdened with the spoils of Doriath, suddenly all the woods were filled with the sound of elven-horns, and shafts sped upon them from every side. There very many of the Dwarves were slain in the first onset; but some escaping from the ambush held together, and fled eastwards towards the mountains. And as they climbed the long slopes beneath Mount Dolmed there came forth the Shepherds of the Trees, and they drove the Dwarves into the shadowy woods of Ered Lindon: whence, it is said, came never one to climb the high passes that led to their homes.
Beren killed the the Lord of Nogrod, and retrieved the Nauglamír. The Dwarf cursed the treasures of Doriath with his dying breath, which was all lost in the River Ascar, and it was renamed Rathlóriel, the Goldenbed. Beren washed the Nauglamír clean and took it home, and the grieving Lúthien wore it, “the vision of greatest beauty and glory that has ever been outside the realm of Valinor”, such that Tol Galen “became like a vision of the land of the Valar, and no place has been since so fair, so fruitful, or so filled with light.”
But Dior uprooted his family and as Thingol’s heir took up residence in Menegroth, to the joy of the Sindar who “arose from the darkness of their grief for fallen kin and King and for the departure of Melian; and Dior Eluchíl set himself to raise anew the glory of the kingdom of Doriath.”
Then on an autumn night, a messenger delivered the Nauglamír to Dior, who grieved at their passing, though “the wise have said that the Silmaril hastened their end; for the flame of the beauty of Lúthien as she wore it was too bright for mortal lands.” But he wore it in place of his mother who he knew had died along with his father, and “now he appeared as the fairest of all the children of the world, of threefold race: of the Edain, and of the Eldar, and of the Maiar of the Blessed Realm.”
But rumour spread about Dior’s possession of a Silmaril.
… and the oath of the sons of Fëanor was waked again from sleep. For while Lúthien wore the Necklace of the Dwarves no Elf would dare to assail her; but now hearing of the renewal of Doriath and of Dior’s pride the seven gathered again from wandering, and they sent to him to claim their own.
Dior didn’t respond, and at Celegorm’s instigation, the seven attacked Menegroth in winter, and fought with Dior. Thus was the second Kinslaying come to pass.
There fell Celegorm by Dior’s hand, and there fell Curufin, and dark Caranthir; but Dior was slain also, and Nimloth his wife, and the cruel servants of Celegorm seized his young sons and left them to starve in the forest. Of this Maedhros indeed repented, and sought for them long in the woods of Doriath; but his search was unavailing, and of the fate of Eluréd and Elurín no tale tells.
Thus was Doriath destroyed permanently. But the Silmaril still eluded the surviving sons of Fëanor, for Elwing was fled, and with her the Silmaril to the mouths of the River Sirion by the sea.
Another Elven kingdom of Middle-earth brought to utter ruin, thanks to Morgoth, and the Doom of the Noldor. Was the ceaseless and senseless destruction unstoppable, unless Morgoth willed it?
(Relevance: read-along schedule)