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Topic: The oath-taking by the sons of Feanor. Influenced, coerced, rehearsed?

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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The oath-taking by the sons of Feanor. Influenced, coerced, rehearsed?

"Then Feanor swore a terrible oath. Straightway his seven sons leaped to his side and each took the selfsame oath..."

I am just trying to understand how this was possible.

The point is:
It is unlikely that Feanor's sons take the oath of their free will with the full understanding of the events and of the oath's meaning.
The pertinent events are:
1. Yavanna, Manwe, and Tulkas ask Feanor to relinquish the Silmarils; Feanor refuses; his sons are not there.
2. Messengers from Formenos (according to Morgoth's Ring, Feanor's sons) arrive with tidings of Finwe's death and the theft of the Silmarils. They report this to Manwe, not knowing that Feanor is right there. Feanor is crushed with sorrow and he departs from there, followed by his sons who are afraid that he might kill himself.
We are not told where he went (are we?) but it is most likely Formenos (his banishment is not over plus he needs to see what happened there). How long it takes to get there and for how long he stays there before returning to Tirion is not said in later accounts (in earlier ones it is up to 10 Sun years' equivalent) , but it seems there is a substantial time interval, at any rate sufficient to cool down and think things over.
 
Several things are important:
 
(1) All the information on the events contemporaneous with the killing of the Trees most likely comes to Feanor's sons in Feanor's interpretation, if at all.
Does Feanor tell his sons of Yavanna's request? Hard to tell. If he considered her request no longer relevant and also if he didn't feel quite right about his response, he might have never mentioned it. But if a long time has been spent in Formenos, maybe he did mention this, perhaps portraying the Valar as being no better than Morgoth.  
 
(2) Because much time has passed between the news of Finwe's death and Feanor's coming to Tirion (where he takes the oath), it implies that the oath is not taken on impulse while being acutely overwhelmed with grief. But perhaps he makes plans for the oath-taking during that time.
 
Feanor is inclined to blame Morgoth and the other Valar alike in his misfortune, and he has time to impart  his resentment in his sons' mood, apparently successfully. Otherwise, it is not obvious at all why his sons would  take the oath as it was. One is left guessing about Feanor's sons' attitude towards the Valar, but they may not have a disposition as bitter as their father's. They do seek help from the Valar after Morgoth's assault. In general, not all of them are of the same mind and mood as Feanor. Neither are they totally obedient to him as evidenced by the subsequent events during ship burning. They have no reason to name "bright Valar" (Feanor does), nor actually any creature other than Morgoth, in the oath, and it doesn't seem very likely that they would say all that of their free will without an influence (coercion) from their father. Was the oath... rehearsed? 
 
Alternatively, while delivering his speech in Tirion, Feanor re-experiences all the bitter and overwhelming feelings and the oath results from this (then it is not preliminarily planned). This makes the oath-taking by his sons in unison less likely, also for the reason that a large portion of the speech is not about the Silmarils or Finwe's death but about the Valar keeping Elves in Valinor so that the vast free lands of Middle-earth could fully belong to the Aftercomers, and how unfair it is. Even though most Noldor "bought" his ideas, his close ones - his wife and father-in-law - didn't, not to mention his half-brothers. So if this variant takes place, it is still not without preliminary brainwashing of his sons, intentional or not. 
 

Criticize please!



-- Edited by Lorelline on Thursday 8th of August 2013 04:22:49 AM

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I'll comment a bit on the timing anyway: in the later Annals of Valinor we do have separate 'years' with respect to the slaying of Finwe [VY 2990] and the oath of Feanor [VY 2991]

 

However in the revised version, The Annals of Aman, at some point within year 1495 Feanor receives the news of Finwe's death, curses Morgoth, and flees into the night -- and it's then described that when it was known that Morgoth had escaped, the Valar remained long seated in the Ring of Doom, with the Maiar and the Vanyar, but the Noldor for the most part returned to the city of Tirion.

 

Exactly how long that took I don't know, but: 'Then suddenly Feanor appeared in the city and called on all to the high Court of the King...' and so we get the speech and oath and so on.

 

This is basically as in the 1977 Silmarillion. And even though a Valian Year was equal to nearly 10 Sun Years [the question of the later amount of 144 Sun Years aside here], it seems Tolkien made sure to describe this sequence of events as happening within the same year [or period of time if 'year' is confusing], in any case. 



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This is all exactly right of course, and even two separate years 2990 and 2991 did not mean that the events were that long year apart. That Feanor still spent some time, with his sons most likely, before he came to Tirion, and that time should have been sufficient to prevail upon them (not necessarily by force) is also true nevertheless. We are, as you mention, told that the Valar sat long unmoved upon their thrones, and "long" should mean the perception by the Elves. It looks like this apparent idleness of the Valar - although they were not idle - is one of the reasons of Feanor's rebellion.
Anyway, my reasoning still seems valid.

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Just for clarity I wasn't trying to invalidate your ideas [although not that you said I was].

 

I just thought -- my mistake -- that you might be unaware of the later entry in Annals of Aman, although admittedly you seemed quite aware of other updates to Quenta Silmarillion or whatever -- so now I guess you meant that even in the updated annals we are still a bit unclear as to how much time actually passed, and so you didn't note [not needing to] the year 1495 or the later source The Annals of Aman...

 

... but in any event it gave me something fun to do at that moment smile

 



-- Edited by Galin on Thursday 8th of August 2013 06:56:03 PM

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Yes, 1495 it was... Your posts helped me realize that although there is no certainty of the "physical" time interval, the perceived time is clearly described as "long", and that is probably more important.

 

Since I am now thinking that the original posting may be too long and people may fall asleep, I will try to restate it more concisely. Feanor's sons take the oath blindly to a large degree, not fully understanding what they are saying and why - that is, not fully of their free will. From that moment on their will is bound by the oath. But they are held responsible for all the consequences as if they took it fully willing.



-- Edited by Lorelline on Friday 9th of August 2013 06:41:54 AM

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Hmm, now I am not sure I agree with something. Although maybe we don't disagree smile

 

I'll put it this way: the Valar sat long yes, but the Noldor went to Tirion and Feanor suddenly appears. In other words, I'm not sure the Noldor waited while the Valar sat there. Nor am I sure that you are saying that they did! 

 

The constructed Silmarillion draws from The Annals of Aman here, but this section of Quenta Silmarillion was not revised for some reason -- this chapter was revised, but not this section of it, it seems; and in the later phase Tolkien appears to have stopped right before the text we are looking at.

Anyway, just for comparison, the Quenta Silmarillion version 'still' reads:

 

'When it became at last clear that Morgoth had escaped, the Gods assembled about the dead Trees, and sat there in darkness for a long while silent, and they were filled with grief. Since the people of the Blessed Realm had been gathered for festival, all the Valar and their children were there, save Osse who came seldom to Valinor, and Tulkas who would not leave the unavailing hunt; and with them the Lindar, the folk of Ingwe, stood and wept. But most of the Noldor returned to Tun and mourned for the darkening of their fair city.'

 

And Feanor appears suddenly in the city, and 'bade the Gnomes prepare for flight in the darkness, while the Valar were still wrapped in idle mournng; to seek freedom in the world...'

 

And long in what sense? Long to be sitting silent in darkness, without acting, might not really be that long. Feanor also spoke long, for example, but the meaning [to me] is 'long, as far as speeches go'. Anyway, again that doesn't mean we necessarily disagree. All I'm saying is that I don't think we necessarily have the Noldor waiting this 'long' period, of whatever length it was, and then deciding to return to Tirion.

 

For myself I don't get the sense that Feanor returned to Formenos. He ran out into the night, distraught with grief and rage. His sons followed [again according to the later phase Quenta Silmarillion], fearing for him, but we don't even know if they found him, or if he desired to speak with anyone at this point. None of that discounts other possibilities of course, but then again I don't have any real idea of actual time here...

 

... and I've never before considered how long it would take the Noldor to return to Tirion!

 

We know, according to the text, that at the time of the oath Feanor 'was distraught with grief for the slaying of his father, and with anguish for the rape of the Silmarils.' I would think the sons of Feanor had a share in these feelings too, and my sense is that they were fresh enough. Moreover, if Feanor could kindle many to rash deeds, how much more would his own sons be kindled to take the oath with him, given that their grandfather had been recently slain by a Vala. Feanor moved many that day, even Galadriel. And even before this the lies of Melkor were at work, swaying some of the Noldor against the Valar.

 

In general I would guess that Feanor, being so strong willed, would have had notable influence on his sons. At the moment I don't recall much description to go by, but I do love this little bit [Shibboleth of Feanor] in any case: 'So Feanor would call himself 'Son of Therinde', and when the sons in their childhood asked why their kin in the house of Finwe used s for th he answered: 'Take no heed! We speak as is right, and as King Finwe himself did before he was led astray. We are the heirs by right and the elder house. Let them sa-si, if they can speak no better.'

 

We know that Curufin was Feanor's favorite son, and was called Atarinke 'little father' referring to his physical likeness to Feanor 'later found to be also seen in his mind.' And Celegorm's name was 'possibly in reference to his quick temper, and his habit of leaping up when suddenly angered.'

 

Granted, Feanor's youngest [in a very late text, Amrod] was said to be much [?shocked] by the deed of his father, and Feanor guessed that maybe he intended to sail back to Nerdanel. But what of the oath here? It was made a 'non-issue' in one sense, as he was burned in the fires of Losgar.

 

Maedhros will [much later] refer to the oath with 'And by Iluvatar we swore in our madness...' well, this may be hindsight talking, but to me it implies that the oath was taken in the heat of the moment, and not rehearsed. And to me this agrees well with the description following the oath [Annals of Aman, Morgoth's Ring] 'But by that name none should swear an oath, good or evil, nor in anger call upon such witness, and many quailed to hear the fell words.'

 

And elsewhere in the tale we see Glorfindel for example, doing something he doesn't really want to do, joining in the Rebellion out of allegiance and kinship with Turgon. So let's say Amrod [again if we consider the late tale of his death] had only sworn out of allegiance and kinship to his father, and later intended to seek the mercy of Manwe with this as part of his 'case', so to speak -- but an oath is an oath in any case.

 

So far, I fall on the side of not coerced or rehearsed.



-- Edited by Galin on Friday 9th of August 2013 06:57:58 PM

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" I'm not sure the Noldor waited while the Valar sat there. Nor am I sure that you are saying that they did! "

I really don't think that the Noldor waited with the others. They returned to Tirion while the Valar were still 'idle'. And the sudden appearance of Feanor there - how I see it - is that there is some time while the Noldor are busy mourning the loss of light, which process is suddenly interrupted. And in his speech Feanor says, '...shall we mourn here deedless for ever...?' Which might imply that by him the period of apparent inactivity was felt as long. But true, he did not seem to cool down, just the opposite. Unless he gets back on fire once he starts talking.

 

"We know, according to the text, that at the time of the oath Feanor 'was distraught with grief for the slaying of his father, and with anguish for the rape of the Silmarils.' "

This is probably from The Silmarillion (don't have it with me - packed because of move)? The Annals of Aman state that "he was on fire"...

Well, the timing issue only matters if Feanor has a chance to talk with his sons before his coming to Tirion. Which brings us to the next point you made:

 

"For myself I don't get the sense that Feanor returned to Formenos. He ran out into the night, distraught with grief and rage. His sons followed [again according to the later phase Quenta Silmarillion], fearing for him, but we don't even know if they found him, or if he desired to speak with anyone at this point."

This is something very important.

'After him Maedros and his brethren went in haste, dismayed, for they had not known that he was present when Maedros spoke; and now they feared that he might slay himself'.

And whether or not they overtook him is not told. What if they didn't? Then where would they go and what happens to them till they take the oath?

The possibilities are limited. They may keep looking for him - but at some point they abandon that and come to Tirion, otherwise they simply may miss the speech. Or, they may return to the Halls of Taniquetil and come back to Tirion with the other Noldor. And in Tirion again they of course might not speak to anyone, but this should be unlikely, because they would want to know what happened to the Trees and how.

Would they be told that the Valar asked their father to give up the Silmarils to rekindle the Trees, and that he refused? And what would be their reaction if they are told? Would they be angered as much as their father?

Why I think this matters is because they explicitly mention the Valar other than Morgoth in the oath. This is something very serious and reflects a big change in attitude towards the Valar, given that it is the Valar they look for help from after the events in Formenos - notably not from their father, of whose presence they are not aware when relating their story (this is puzzling; don't they know where he went?). At that point they still have respect for the Valar, whether or not they find banishment of their father justified.

 

 

"I would think the sons of Feanor had a share in these feelings too, and my sense is that they were fresh enough. Moreover, if Feanor could kindle many to rash deeds, how much more would his own sons be kindled to take the oath with him, given that their grandfather had been recently slain by a Vala. Feanor moved many that day, even Galadriel. And even before this the lies of Melkor were at work, swaying some of the Noldor against the Valar."

The oath is the culmination of the rebellion against the Valar, and there is a difference between being moved by the desire to see (and rule) new lands - the Noldor were swayed by that - and threatening to deal death to whoever gets a Silmaril (including the Valar, ridiculous as it sounds), by Iluvatar's name - at this the Noldor quailed. The oath is not about the revenge for Finwe's death at all! Unless, of course, regaining the Silmarils that Finwe tried to defend (among other things) is considered a revenge, but this is not the impression left by the oath.

The Valar at first also treat Feanor and his sons differently from the other exiles-to-be. The latter, by a messenger from the Valar, are advised not to go, but to Feanor it is said: '...thou... by thine oath art exiled'.

 

"... and I've never before considered how long it would take the Noldor to return to Tirion!"

Exactly for that purpose I was looking for a good map of Aman with the scale indicated on it. A map on this very site has no scale.

 

"In general I would guess that Feanor, being so strong willed, would have had notable influence on his sons. At the moment I don't recall much description to go by, but I do love this little bit [Shibboleth of Feanor] in any case: 'So Feanor would call himself 'Son of Therinde', and when the sons in their childhood asked why their kin in the house of Finwe used s for th he answered: 'Take no heed! We speak as is right, and as King Finwe himself did before he was led astray. We are the heirs by right and the elder house. Let them sa-si, if they can speak no better.'"

I remember that Indis's conversion from 'th' (as Vanyar pronounced) to 's' also annoyed him.

And yes, his influence upon his sons should have been great and this is one of my points - he seems to have treated them in a dominating way caring little of their views. Some of the sons are said to have inherited their mother's mood, which is totally different from Feanor's, yet they are said all to be almost always together with their father, traveling all over Aman, and they all go with him to Formenos.

 

"We know that Curufin was Feanor's favorite son, and was called Atarinke 'little father' referring to his physical likeness to Feanor 'later found to be also seen in his mind.' And Celegorm's name was 'possibly in reference to his quick temper, and his habit of leaping up when suddenly angered.'"

Indeed 'the sons of Feanor' is a term only used for expedience. It is hard to think of them collectively, and I have little doubt that Curufin and Celegorm/Tyelkormo and maybe Caranthir took the oath blithely. The two eldest and the twins (from what is known about them) should have had a hard time saying those fell and utterly rebellious words. For that to happen, they should have been angered not just by Morgoth for everything he did but by all the other Valar for coveting the Silmarils (assuming someone told them of Yavanna's request). And since the Silmarils are not of an equally great importance for them as they are for Feanor (they live without them relatively happily in Middle-earth for quite a while), it still seems that some piece of influence that brought them to such anger as to take the oath is missing.

 

"Granted, Feanor's youngest [in a very late text, Amrod] was said to be much [?shocked] by the deed of his father, and Feanor guessed that maybe he intended to sail back to Nerdanel. But what of the oath here? It was made a 'non-issue' in one sense, as he was burned in the fires of Losgar."

I believe it is an issue, but hope to bring it up later (and go over the outcomes for each oath-taker)

 

"Maedhros will [much later] refer to the oath with 'And by Iluvatar we swore in our madness...' well, this may be hindsight talking, but to me it implies that the oath was taken in the heat of the moment, and not rehearsed."

I was interpreting "madness" in the sense of "folly" (meaning the oath-taking without good understanding). But the way you see it is as likely - and if it is the heat, then to get to that degree some additional influence seems necessary.

Of course the oath cannot be rehearsed if Feanor and his sons have no conversation before his speech.

 

"And to me this agrees well with the description following the oath [Annals of Aman, Morgoth's Ring] 'But by that name none should swear an oath, good or evil, nor in anger call upon such witness, and many quailed to hear the fell words.'"

Feanor was full of anger and this applies to him no doubt; whether all his sons were equally angered I am not sure - the cited statement still makes sense.

 

"And elsewhere in the tale we see Glorfindel for example, doing something he doesn't really want to do, joining in the Rebellion out of allegiance and kinship with Turgon. So let's say Amrod [again if we consider the late tale of his death] had only sworn out of allegiance and kinship to his father, and later intended to seek the mercy of Manwe with this as part of his 'case', so to speak -- but an oath is an oath in any case."

I would say that the oath sworn out of allegiance means it is taken reluctantly but by the full free will and with the understanding that it will bind just as if it was taken eagerly. Could all the sons have taken such an oath out of allegiance? I just don't know, although of course joining the exile out of allegiance should be less of an issue - it was not a crime (until the Kinslaying) while the oath said that they would stop at no crime if that could help regain the Silmarils.

 

"So far, I fall on the side of not coerced or rehearsed."

Rehearsal can be ruled out if there is no interaction between Feanor and his sons sometime in advance. But could they have been coerced, through osanwe (not sure if that was physically possible)?



-- Edited by Lorelline on Saturday 10th of August 2013 07:43:34 AM

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The oath is the culmination of the rebellion against the Valar, and there is a difference between being moved by the desire to see (and rule) new lands - the Noldor were swayed by that - and threatening to deal death to whoever gets a Silmaril (including the Valar, ridiculous as it sounds), by Iluvatar's name - at this the Noldor quailed. The oath is not about the revenge for Finwe's death at all!

 

I understand that, but my point was that I think there is passion and fresh feeling involved here [and possibly allegiance, and in general a fatherly influence] and Feanor's great ability to kindle folk to rash action. The seven sons had also had their grandfather recently slain by a Vala, so they might be arguably easier to 'fire up' to take an oath which would make others quail.

 

And just for clarity, I had written that 'Amrod's' [Amros Amarthan's] oath was made a 'non issue' by his death in a sense, but emphasis on 'in one sense' there.

smile



-- Edited by Galin on Saturday 10th of August 2013 04:47:01 PM

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Taking your arguments into account, it looks like the following can be concluded about taking the oath as it was:

- Rehearsal is not possible without additional assumptions;

- Coercion might not be completely ruled out, but there is no direct evidence;

- influence is undeniable, ample evidence for it.

 

Just for completeness, theoretically the possible variants are:

- They take it because they are very much moved by Feanor's speech (where the Valar are presented as denying freedom to the Elves) and are on fire just as he is, not really understanding what they are saying (a likely variant for the three middle sons)

- They take it with little enthusiasm (they understand and don't like its meaning), doing it mostly out of allegiance or kinship or by habit of being together in everything (likely for the other sons; then the eagerness of the three middle ones should have been enough to make the described impression and cover all of them, even if others were reluctantly mumbling in the background)

- They take it because they are misled into thinking that the Valar not just kept the Elves as thralls but were also after the Silmarils (possible for all if Feanor tells them of the Valars' attempt to get the Silmarils from him)

- They take it clearly understanding its meaning (rebellion against the Valar) and declaring themselves dangerous and setting themselves apart from all the others, and with full will, so much so that had even Feanor not taken it they still would have (in other words, totally uninfluenced - highly unlikely).

 

I still have a 'technical' problem concerning the process. Did the sons take the oath right after Feanor, did they repeat after him line by line, or did they all say it at the same time? Maybe it is just me, and the first variant is what is implied (or not implied but clearly said)? The third variant seems impossible without rehearsal or direct mental control (how would they know what to say?).

 

It appears you agree that the younger Ambarussa deserves some special consideration...



-- Edited by Lorelline on Sunday 11th of August 2013 06:38:46 AM

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It appears you agree that the younger Ambarussa deserves some special consideration...

 

I would like to hear your thoughts about him. He certainly was given a different role later, although the text 'only' suggests that Ambarussa [the younger] might have been on his way back to Aman. Of course, even suggesting such a thing, Tolkien knows he is planting a seed in the reader's mind.

 

Could Feanor be wrong? It was 'thought' Ambarto was going to return, but does being much shocked at his father's deed necessarily mean he would have? Technically we 'know' from this account that Ambarussa the Elder declared his brother did not want to sleep on land 'in discomfort' before Feanor set fire to the ships. The planted seed however, is...

 

'But it is thought (and no doubt Feanor guessed this also) that it was in the mind of Ambarto to sail his ship back [?afterwards] and rejoin Nerdanel; for he had been much [?shocked]* by the deed of his father*

*the treacherous taking of the Telerin ships is noted here, in note 64

 

Earlier in this text Feanor says that all his sons are determined to leave Aman with him, although an interesting author's note was added, that the twins remained alike: 'but the elder grew darker in hair, and was more dear to his father. After childhood they [?were not to be confused].' So the 'trait' found in Nerdanel's kin was more noticeable in the younger of the twins, and the older twin was more dear to Feanor.

 

Anyway, maybe it's good to post this here in any event, as The Shibboleth of Feanor isn't as widely known as other texts.

 

For myself I have been more concerned with the confusion of names [that the revised scenario appears to have generated] on some websites.



-- Edited by Galin on Monday 12th of August 2013 07:43:09 PM

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Galin wrote (in plain)

Could Feanor be wrong? It was 'thought' Ambarto was going to return, but does being much shocked at his father's deed necessarily mean he would have?  

'But it is thought (and no doubt Feanor guessed this also) that it was in the mind of Ambarto to sail his ship back [?afterwards] and rejoin Nerdanel; for he had been much [?shocked]* by the deed of his father*

*the treacherous taking of the Telerin ships is noted here, in note 64

To me this looks like indeed he wanted to go back; of course one could only guess the purpose of this. The way Tolkien presents it, Ambarussa the Younger wanted to return to his mother, in which case he is an oath-breaker of course. He has no intention to fulfill the oath. 

After being burned by his father he should go to everlasting darkness (dies when planning to escape); yet by the curse of Mandos he should go to the Halls of Mandos. No problem if that is the same thing, and only then it is a non-issue in practical terms.

But if those who suspected the attempt to escape, including Feanor (obviously not just him), were wrong, still there are variants, from finding a better place to sleep to planning to bring Fingolfin and his followers - it is the ship stealing that has shocked the younger twin (but not the Kinslaying?..). Yet just from the text I would not really question his intentions. 

Earlier in this text Feanor says that all his sons are determined to leave Aman with him, although an interesting author's note was added, that the twins remained alike: 'but the elder grew darker in hair, and was more dear to his father. After childhood they [?were not to be confused].' So the 'trait' found in Nerdanel's kin was more noticeable in the younger of the twins, and the older twin was more dear to Feanor.

So much more dear was he (but could that be just because of hair?) that Feanor did not mourn the loss of the younger one, but Ambarussa the Elder was hurt by it and called his father fell and fey. So perhaps not only the younger one was 'shocked' by his father's ways. I remember there was somewhere a note that both twins were to die.

Anyway, maybe it's good to post this here in any event, as The Shibboleth of Feanor isn't as widely known as other texts.

 (Have no clue what is known widely and what is not. Around me no one knows anything at all except for the movies)

For myself I have been more concerned with the confusion of names [that the revised scenario appears to have generated] on some websites.

Yes, Feanor-and-Maeglin topic. But is it the revised scenario or revised names that cause the confusion? These names are not shown in Quenya before (except for Makalaure, another special case), and even in this piece they are not side by side with the Sindarin names (I think).


 



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(Have no clue what is known widely and what is not. Around me no one knows anything at all except for the movies).

 

I should probably say: in my experience on the web. I could be wrong about this of course, but my sense is that The Shibboleth of Feanor and The Problem of Ros are still, relatively speaking anyway, less well known in 'web chat' compared to other Tolkien books or texts.

Galin wrote: For myself I have been more concerned with the confusion of names [that the revised scenario appears to have generated] on some websites. Yes, Feanor-and-Maeglin topic. But is it the revised scenario or revised names that cause the confusion? These names are not shown in Quenya before (except for Makalaure, another special case), and even in this piece they are not side by side with the Sindarin names (I think).

 

I generally only meant the scenario in which the revised names occur. Wikipedia currently gives a confused account of Amras for example. Or for another instance, Tolkien Gateway currently reads [under Etymology]

Amras' father-name in Quenya was Telufinwë, "Last [of] Finwë", for he was the last of the sons of the House of Finwë and its short form was Telvo. His mother-name was originally Ambarussa ("Top-russet", referring to his hair), the same as his twin Amrod, but Fëanor insisted that the twins ought to have different names and Nerdanel prophetically called him Umbarto, "The Fated" (from umbar = "fate"). His father, disturbed by it, changed it to Ambarto, "Upwards-exalted" (from amba = "upwards, top" and arta = "exalted", "lofty"). Nevertheless both twins called each other Ambarussa.

The name Amras is the Sindarin version of Ambarussa.

In later notes found in The Peoples of Middle-earth, Tolkien mentions that he wished to change the name to Amros because of linguistic issues. While this occured late in life, and there are no known manuscripts written later that contradict this, its canonicity is in dispute.

Tolkien Gateway

 

So in my opinion this is not only a confused mix of the form Amras with the later story, it is off the path again by stating that Amras is the Sindarin version of Ambarussa.

 

I understand why the Silmarillion names chosen by Christopher Tolkien are being used in general, as people are more familiar with them, but when they are explained in this way it becomes a jumble of what Tolkien actually intended, and he was quite fond of getting these details correct.



-- Edited by Galin on Tuesday 13th of August 2013 07:50:55 PM

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"Wikipedia currently gives a confused account of Amras for example. Or for another instance, Tolkien Gateway currently reads [under Etymology]..."

 

It never occurred to me to look up anything Tolkien-related in Wikipedia. Don't even know why. Tolkien Gateway, on the other hand, I found quite helpful - in terms of images that is. And just from that I can tell (coming back to the topic) that I was not alone in imagining at some point that Feanor and his sons took the oath all at once (but I don't believe anymore that it was possible - not spontaneously at least). Other than for images I don't use it too often because there are discrepancies with the books.

 

(Seems you edited your post and deleted something concerning canonicity of The Silmarillion and also about Maedhros's name (maybe spelled differently) as well, before there was a chance to comment. Or did I dream it up...)

 

Once more back to the topic - my plan to discuss the oath was this:

- Oath-taking (posted);

- 'Properties' of the oath;

- Everlasting Darkness (touched upon);

- Treachery of kin towards kin;

- The House of Feanor as Dispossessed;

- Ship-burning: are the sons of Feanor to blame? (Not exactly on the oath, but related)

- Outcomes for each oath-taker (also touched upon).

Guess will follow the plan...



-- Edited by Lorelline on Wednesday 14th of August 2013 05:35:09 AM



-- Edited by Lorelline on Tuesday 20th of August 2013 06:11:25 AM

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(Seems you edited your post and deleted something concerning canonicity of The Silmarillion and also about Maedhros's name (maybe spelled differently) as well, before there was a chance to comment. Or did I dream it up...)

 

Yes I originally responded to Tolkien Gateway's comment on the 'canonicity' of Amros [and I assumed the person who wrote this was possibly mixing in some idea based on The Problem of Ros, based on 'linguistic issues' in the quote].

 

So my problem is not really with the introduction of the Quenya names possibly causing confusion, but rather with the conflation of the new ideas and the older names. The three brothers that have red-brown hair were given new names to reflect this: Amras was out [and it never was the Sindarin form of Ambarussa], Amrod was shifted over to the youngest son [and became only his potential name from Feanor's perspective, had 'Ambarto' lived], and Maedhros was altered in form.

 

But my original post was longish and I was already off topic so I shortened it. Anyway you didn't dream it biggrin



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I think the confusion will persist until someone clarifies the issue in the manner you do in your posts. At some point I thought that father-names would help, but they wouldn't - they are not even mentioned in the legend.

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I would try, but these sites can be potentially edited by anyone the same day I might choose to edit them. And who is to say I'm correct but me?

wink

And by that I mean, there is no way for me to argue my case with those who simply think I am wrong and would edit my comments out of these websites. I'm sure the person who wrote the existing articles feels he or she is quite correct and not 'conflating' anything. 

By the way, not that you are unaware [but just to mention it for the thread, considering this chat includes the death at Losgar], there is some slight evidence that Tolkien was thinking of having both the youngest sons perish at Losgar!



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Well, wouldn't it be boring without some confusion...
I recall two pieces of "slight evidence", there is a note in Morgoth's Ring that both twins die, and then on some (late) map their realms are missing, in the War of the Jewels I think? But that would not agree with the legend that only one twin was "fated"... And Pityo would not have a chance to stand up to his father and point out his madness - Feanor was really asking for it.

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This was mentioned in another thread but has to be here.
Just like Andreth said, "too often seen is seen no longer". I have read the oath so many times, how could I miss this:
 
"...This swear we all:
death we will deal him 
ere Day's ending,
woe unto world's end! 
Our word hear thou,
 Eru Allfather!"
 
Clearly then the oath was taken by all of them at once, and the problem of how that was possible (if not indeed rehearsed) remains. 
I wish I could look at the other variants of it (there are I think three in the Lays of Beleriand), but this is the latest version anyway.
 
And on a quite different note, something on the names. Although the name Ambarto is a new one (I think), it has previously existed as Nambarauto (in Quenya) / Damrod (in Noldorin, which evolved into Sindarin), so Amrod is indeed a possible sindarinization of Ambarto; except that the name at first belonged to the elder twin and had a totally different meaning (hope I did not add more to the confusion).


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Yes [Etymologies scenario] Damrod meant 'hammerer of metal', from base NDAM- 'hammer, beat' and RAUTA- metal. And at this point the second element originally meant 'copper' not metal, which is interesting given the later hair colour. This is, generally speaking, a pre-Lord of the Rings idea, for anyone who might be wondering.

 

At some point Damrod and Diriel become Amrod and Amras: in the 1950s I guess -- these appear as changes on a text dated to around 1958 anyway. I don't know what they are intended to mean at this point, although guesses could be made. I should say that I don't think Tolkien ever explained them in this 'phase' of writing, that I'm aware of anyway. I have seen Amras explained as 'uprising horn' somewhere, but I don't think that's confirmed by Tolkien himself, so far at least.

 

In 1968 or later we get new concepts: here we have the Telerin names [without the proper diacritic marks however] Findarato [Finrod], Angarato [Angrod]. And Aikanaro [Aegnor] had a father-name Ambarato: 'Aikanaro was called by his Father Ambarato. The Sindarin form of this would have been Amrod; but to distinguish this from Angrod, and also because he preferred it, he used his mother name.'

So Aegnor is Amrod too.

 

Plus [although we already went over this part I think] Nerdanel names her youngest son Ambarussa, Feanor wants a different name since the sixth child is also named Ambarussa, she then names him Umbarto 'fated' -- Feanor changes this to Ambarto or thinks Nerdanel said this anyway, the name based on Quenya amba- [as in Ambarussa] + arta 'exalted, lofty'.

And Ambarto would 'probably' have been rendered Amrod in Sindarin, had he lived. 'Had Amros (2) Ambarto lived, it [i. e. the name Ambarto] would probably have been [Sindarized] as Amrod, but when [?encountered] at all in Sindarin form it was [?] Amarthan 'Fated One.' JRRT, published in Vinyar Tengwar 41

 

Sorry I couldn't resist.

 

It seems I know the least about the forms chosen for the 1977 Silmarillion, the names most people are most familiar with!



-- Edited by Galin on Tuesday 3rd of September 2013 09:07:10 PM

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(On the evolution of the twins' names)

It seems you present an exhaustive account of these names. I just wanted to look through the HoMe to see where exactly the names chosen for The Silmarillion appear first. The names look like this:
Dinithel and Damrod - The Nauglafring (Vol.II, The Book of Lost Tales II)
Damrod and Diriel - The Flight of the Noldoli (1925) and other poems from the Lays of Beleriand (Vol.III) (some written much later)
Damrod and Diriel in the Annals of Valinor and of Beleriand and Quenta Silmarillion (Vol. V, The Lost Road and Other Writins)
Damrod and Diriel in the Annals of Aman (Vol. X, Morgoth's Ring) and the Grey Annals (Vol.XI, The War of the Jewels), but they become Amrod and Amras in the later Quenta Silmarillion (also published in Vols X and XI).
And finally, Ambarussa for both - and then it looks like only after the death of the younger twin it becomes clear that it was he who was supposed to be Ambarto/Umbarto. So the surviving twin was Amros.
And it seems that the source of the confusion might be actually here in the Shibboleth of Feanor. The Sindarin form Amros does not appear until The Problem of Ros - in the Shibboleth of Feanor the form is still Amras. Not only in the list of father-names [Amras] Telufinwe (this is how it is written and published, but if Amras/Amros is to survive then he becomes also Pityafinwe, the elder of the twins) - it is also in the note immediately following the Shibboleth (by Christopher Tolkien), "...the younger of the twins Ambarussa (Amras). " Not that he meant Amras as a Sindarin version of Ambarussa, but it is really difficult not to get confused, I would say.


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Good digging Lorelline!

 

Yes, and I think the confusion has a number of components. In The Shibboleth of Feanor Christopher Tolkien notes: 'In the first list I have added the Sindarin names for clarity.'

 

But to me he means 'clarity' with respect to which son is being referred to, to those familiar with The Silmarillion. If I recall correctly Amras is thus Christopher Tolkien's editorial addition in every case in these texts, and surely Amras is not intended to be the Sindarin form of 'Telufinwe' for instance. Next, in the commentary that follows the new legend, we have another parenthetical reference from Christopher Tolkien, as you mentioned, and for the same kind of clarity I would think, but in any case none of the commentary is from JRRT himself of course.

Then we have note 65, where Christopher Tolkien refers to brief notes on the Sindarizing of the Quenya names, explains Maedros, and adds: '... and also that the Sindarin form of Ambarussa (numbered 6, i.e. the Elder twin), is here Amros, not Amras.'

 

That's true and not incorrect, but some might take that to mean that 'somewhere else' [not 'here'] the Sindarin of Ambarussa is Amras, and after all, that's the form chosen for the 1977 Silmarillion too. But I don't see that it ever was Amras, and so I think CJRT just meant something like 'don't confuse this with Amras'. Plus relatively few enough people buy Vinyar Tengwar, and those who might only get their information from the web would not see the actual text of The Shibboleth of Feanor to refer to...

... then we toss in the wrong idea that Tolkien ultimately wasn't 'allowed' to use -ros 'red-brown' in Amros because it meant 'foam' in the already published The Lord of the Rings, in Cair Andros, and that doesn't help.

 

Anyway I agree, The Shibboleth of Feanor is itself an arguable source of confusion here, despite that Amras was added for clarity! 



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Looks like the issues with the names of the twins are more or less clarified.

Now on the process of the oath-taking...

The earliest version of the oath-taking, given in The Flight of the Noldoli, finally sheds light on what I call the "technical" aspect. No, they don't swear all eight at once. Feanor does it first, and his sons then follow:

"Then his sons beside him,
the seven kinsmen...
...leapt with laughter
their lord beside,
with linked hands
there lightly took
the oath unbreakable..."

It is also interesting that Feanor only swears to hunt "endlessly unwearying unwavering" for the jewels but there is nothing in his oath about "the fierce vengeance" towards those "whoso seize or steal or finding keep" the Silmarils. This latter part is from his sons' oath.

Perhaps the later versions were simply a compression of this, so as to not to repeat the oath twice in the text. While the characters of at least some of the Feanor's sons underwent changes in later versions and became less violent, it is possible to think that the process of oath-taking was supposed to remain as Feanor first and the sons next. This is much easier to understand. The later versions also state the oath to be "selfsame" for Feanor and his sons - thus, the violence becomes the part of Feanor's oath as well (I guess the only difference would be that Feanor says "I" and his sons "we").

Curiously, in the Lay of Leithian (Canto VI) Feanor gives his speech but there is no mention that he takes an oath - only his sons do (the violent variant of it).

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For completeness and to be fair, I will mention that people did wonder about similar issues before (as I just recently discovered). For anybody who cares I am posting a reference here, so that everyone can see for themselves.

forum.barrowdowns.com/showthread.php



-- Edited by Lorelline on Tuesday 12th of November 2013 01:22:56 PM

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