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Topic: The Elfstone

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Soldier of Beleriand - Rank 3
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Date: Sep 21, 2009
The Elfstone

Today I was doing researching on the origins of the Ring of Barahir, and how it had come to Aragorn through the line of Beren through the ages.  I found what appears to be a great page on Wikipedia (it was quite an informative article, so hush), which discussed the origins of many of the "artifacts" mentioned in The Silmarillion and LOTR.  While perusing this article, I came across a section concerning  the "Elfstone". I had seen references to the Elfstone several times, but had never really been able to divine its significance and origins, other than what is told in Fellowship of the Ring when Galadriel gives the Elfstone to Aragorn before the Fellowship leaves Lothlorien.

The article I found (here) stated that the Elfstone was originally crafted by Enerhil in Gondolin.  Once completed, the stone was given to Idril, and then her son Eärendil, who takes it to Valinor, and as we know, never returns.This story apparently appeared in the Unfinished Tales.  Ironically, I never finished reading the Unfinished Tales, and I do not remember reading this story. One could say that I am, in fact, unfinished with the Unfinished Tales.  But I digress.

At this point, the story diverges into 2 or 3 (depending on who you ask) "variations", as many of Tolkien's tales do.  I can't find much about the Elfstone online at all, and I am currently doing way too much reading for class to be inclined to do any serious delving into the Unfinished Tales, so I will present you with the copy-pasted descriptions and see what you can make of it. 

Even the consistently excellent Encyclopedia of Arda is nearly silent on the subject, accepting one version of the story only and presenting it as "fact".  Its article on the Elfstone states in it's entirety:

"The green stone given to Aragorn II by Galadriel in Lórien, and the origin of his surname, Elessar."

There are notes in the sidebar which state simply:

"The first Elfstone was made before the Fall of Gondolin in I 510, and passed into the West with Eärendil in I 538; the second Elfstone was created between II 750II 1697, and survived into the Fourth Age."  Both Elfstones were probably made by Celebrimbor."

However, the Wikipedia article presents more possibilities:

  • Gandalf brings back the jewel from Valinor and gives it to Galadriel, as a token from Yavanna that the Valar have not forsaken Middle-earth. In this version Gandalf also remarks prophetically to Galadriel that she will only hold it for a little while, before she passes it to another, who will also be called Elessar.
  • Galadriel is pained at the state of Middle-earth and wants something to help heal its wounds. Celebrimbor, who is in love with Galadriel, remakes the jewel at her behest. It is interesting to note that Celebrimbor was also in Gondolin in the time of Enerdhil and learned much from him. Although we are more familiar with Celebrimbor (and his Rings of Power), he was actually overshadowed by the superior skill of Enerdhil, who was second only to Fëanor.
  • There is also a third version that differs greatly from the first two. In that there is no mention of Enerdhil and instead it was Celebrimbor himself who in Gondolin made the original jewel. Eärendil takes this jewel to Valinor forever and in the Second Age Galadriel asks Celebrimbor to remake the jewel again.
  • Another version states that the Elfstone was created by Fëanor, who gave it to his eldest son Maedhros as he died. Maedhros then gave it to Fingon as a token of friendship, but the whereabouts of the gem thereafter are not known. The dragon-helm of Azaghâl probably replaced the Elfstone as Maedhros's gift to Fingon.
All versions end with the jewel in Galadriel's possession.

What I'm looking for here:
  • Which variation of the Elfstone story do you feel is most likely to be accurate?
  • Which variations, if any, are present in Tolkien texts?
  • Is this Wikipedia article full of crap or is it backed up by actual text resources?
  • Which version of the story do you prefer?
  • Any interesting tidbits about the Elfstone that I haven't mentioned here.


-- Edited by The Secret Fire on Sunday 20th of September 2009 11:55:17 PM

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Loremaster Elf of Mirkwood - Rank 4
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According to "The Lord of the Rings a Reader's Companion" and "J.R.R Tolkien Encyclopedia" Tolkien does not say which version was the definitive account. As you say, it seems up to us to decide which version the reader likes. I like the version that it was brought back to Middle Earth by Mithrandir and given to Galadriel, but that is only my opinion and nothing more.

It is mentioned in the "The Lord of the Rings a Reader's Companion" that in the original draft of the story of the gifting of the Fellowship by Galadriel that the Elfstone brooch would have gone to Gimli, not Aragorn....or Trotter, as he was then called.

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Ah, a complex issue! Here's my take on the matter.

There's one substantial text concerning the Elessar in Unfinished Tales, which purposely presents two internal histories, and the matter gets confused because of an external revision as well (Celebrimbor's history). There is also a three sentence bit of text at the end.

The text is described as a 'very rough manuscript' and 'in the first stage of composition'. It might also be of note that CJRT connects it with 'Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn', itself a 'short and hasty outline, very roughly composed.' -- which also puts it later than the 'Maedros note', and possibly somewhere in the later 1950s.

The earlier idea is that of the 'Maedros note' found in Quenta Silmarillion. At the top of a page Tolkien pencilled: 'The Green Stone of Feanor given by Maidros to Fingon' and CJRT comments that this can hardly be other than a reference to the Elessar, Tolkien's early thoughts on giving the jewel a history after writing The Lord of the Rings proper.

But later JRRT writes the text we find in Unfinished Tales. Keeping in mind its rough nature... 

One Elessar: Enerdhil makes the Jewel and Gandalf brings it back to Middle-earth. Gandalf's statements imply that Galadriel should keep the Jewel until Aragorn (as it turns out) comes to receive it.

However Galadriel already has Nenya by the time Gandalf arrives in Middle-earth, and has had it for long years before this, so why should she: 'grieve in Middle-earth, for leaves fall and flowers fade; and my heart yearns, remembering trees and grass that do not die.'

Why not use Nenya smile

And actually in the next version, it is said Galadriel needed the Elessar no more upon receiving Nenya.

Another problem, noted by Hammond and Scull: since Galadriel gave the jewel to her daughter: 'thus the tale seems to suggest that there was a breach of trust, in that Galadriel did not keep the Elessar for the one destined to receive it.' H&S, Reader's Guide. p. 377

Hmmm.

Two Elessars: Enerdhil makes the first one, Celebrimbor the second; and Galadriel receives the Elessar before she receives Nenya, and gives it to Celebrian (with no statement from Gandalf here, of course).

Here the 'three sentence text' might be notable, because in it Tolkien possibly has decided that there is really only one internal tale, or only one version told in Middle-earth. Granted the note is very brief, and maybe that is the reason why it seems to discount a variant history, but of the first stone it is simply stated: 'But that passed away' as if there was no longer a question of another tale. I wonder if Tolkien had realized that the 'One Elessar (Gandalf)' version was too problematic even within the context of two internal tales.

The brief text raises another element: Enerdhil is seemingly to be replaced by Celebrimbor, who is here a jewel-smith in Gondolin, noting that he was from Gondolin in the unrevised version of the text titled Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn too -- 'rather than one of the Feanorians' (CJRT, commentary, The History of Galadriel And Celeborn).

This is an external factor, as Celebrimbor becomes a Feanorian in the 1960s in the revised version of The Lord of the Rings. Thus, was Celebrimbor, now certainly a Feanorian, still meant to be a jewel-smith of Gondolin? This seems doubtful to me.

What some websites might do is replace Enerdhil back into the history of Middle-earth, despite that he was displaced by Celebrimbor -- again, because some might be guessing that the Celebrimbor of the 1960s would not have been a jewel-smith in Gondolin.

So Enerdhil 'reappears'? or does he? Is the Gandalf version meant to be an internal puzzle and meant to be problematic with respect to The Lord of the Rings -- or is it just an external mistake, possibly corrected in a very brief statement, maybe after Tolkien realized Galadriel would have Nenya by the time the Istari arrived in Middle-earth.

I doubt that Tolkien imagined everything he jotted down in his private papers was going to possibly be considered 'history', especially if hailing from rough drafts for example, but that has become a somewhat unique part of discussing Middle-earth.


-- Edited by Galin on Tuesday 22nd of September 2009 09:13:55 PM

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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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When it comes to different versions of things, Galin is your Dwarf.smile.gif

Can't add anything...

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Soldier of Beleriand - Rank 3
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Thanks to both of you.

1. Anorlas, I think I also prefer the version with Gandalf returning the Elfstone to Middle Earth the best. Do you recommend the Reader's Companion? It sounds like an interesting book.

2. Ah, Galin, I was hoping that you would reply to this thread. We can always count on you for a very thorough, very well-researched answer. Clearly this is an even more complex and convoluted issue than I originally thought. I had never even considered the idea that Galadriel possessed Nenya and thus had no purposeful reason for "needing" the Elfstone to heal the ills of Middle Earth, but once you pointed it out, I agree that it doesn't make much sense.

Based on what I've gathered so far, I think I have a great preference for the version where Mithrandir returns the Elfstone from Valinor as a token from Yavanna that the Valar have not forsaken Middle Earth. I find this series of events more plausible than the other possibilities. It also renders the problem of who created the Elfstone less problematic as Celebrimbor would not be responsible for crafting one of both of them despite his supposed Feanorian lineage.

Out of curiousity: Is "grieve in Middle-earth, for leaves fall and flowers fade; and my heart yearns, remembering trees and grass that do not die" a quote from the version of the story where Gandalf returns the Elfstone to Galadriel? It seems but for the supposition that Galadriel desires the Elfstone to "heal the ills of Middle Earth", this version would be the easiest to make fit with other related events, if we could leave the Elfstone to be simply a token of goodwill from the Valar. However, that's only my opinion based on the contents of this thread.



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'Out of curiousity: Is "grieve in Middle-earth, for leaves fall and flowers fade; and my heart yearns, remembering trees and grass that do not die" a quote from the version of the story where Gandalf returns the Elfstone to Galadriel?' 

Sorry, I should have been clearer there: yes, she says that to Gandalf. And in the second version Galadriel says similarly (but now to Celebrimbor): 'I am grieved in Middle-earth, for leaves fall and flowers fade that I have loved, so that the land of my dwelling is filled with regret that no Spring can redress.'

'It seems but for the supposition that Galadriel desires the Elfstone to "heal the ills of Middle Earth", this version would be the easiest to make fit with other related events, if we could leave the Elfstone to be simply a token of goodwill from the Valar. However, that's only my opinion based on the contents of this thread.'

The full text is best, but I'll try a short version of part of the conversation in Tale I:

Galadriel gives her statement (leaves and flowers and etc), Gandalf asks if she would then have the Elessar, Galadriel basically wonders what has happened to it, and adds: 'And must Middle-earth then fade and perish forever?' Gandalf replies that that is its fate: 'Yet for a little while that might be amended, if the Elessar should return' and moments later when he reveals it: 'Use it as you may, and for a while you shall make the land of your dwelling the fairest place in Middle-earth.'


So to my mind, it really does beg the question why not use Nenya at this point. Not that you disagreed of course, but I'm just adding a bit more for reference here. 
 
In any case, I'm still undecided as to which I prefer. Hmmm. 

Also I would like to stress that my theory above on the 'three sentence text' is purely speculative on my part, and of course this bit of text could just be a short statement concerning version two -- instead of what I posted as a possibility above, that maybe it represents Tolkien abandoning the two story approach and going with an altered version of Tale II.


-- Edited by Galin on Wednesday 23rd of September 2009 01:42:25 AM

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Secret Fire, I would very much recommend "A Reader's Companion". Hammond, Scull, worked with Christopher Tolkien going through all of J.R.R Tolkien's notes to clarify and rectify some of the mistakes that kept poping up in the various printings of The Lord of the Rings. It was this book that finally put an end to the dispute about whether or not Legolas had dark or blond hair. His linage called for blond hair.

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'(...) It was this book that finally put an end to the dispute about whether or not Legolas had dark or blond hair. His linage called for blond hair.'

Where is this part about Legolas Greenleaf, Anorlas Sunleaf?

smile



-- Edited by Galin on Wednesday 23rd of September 2009 03:24:15 AM

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Anorlas:  Maybe I will make it my next Tolkien book.  I have not bought anything Tolkien-related since the Children of Hurin came out, so I think I am due for a new book.


Galin wrote:

'Out of curiousity: Is "grieve in Middle-earth, for leaves fall and flowers fade; and my heart yearns, remembering trees and grass that do not die" a quote from the version of the story where Gandalf returns the Elfstone to Galadriel?'

Sorry, I should have been clearer there: yes, she says that to Gandalf. And in the second version Galadriel says similarly (but now to Celebrimbor): 'I am grieved in Middle-earth, for leaves fall and flowers fade that I have loved, so that the land of my dwelling is filled with regret that no Spring can redress.'


This may be an embarrassingly obvious question, but it's something I've never quite understood about the plight of the Elves:

Is the natural state of Middle-Earth that of "passing away", like our Earth is (plants and animals die, things erode, decay, show age, etc), and the Elves "preserve" it only through the use of the Elven rings?  Or was the original state of Arda that of unchanging timelessness?  It seems the Elves mourn the loss and change of everything that they love, but isn't that what would happen normally anyway but for their use of the Elven rings, etc.? Or have I missed some major piece here? They seem to allude to some time "before" when things did not change or decay and I have never figured out when this period was.

If you don't understand what I'm saying it's okay, I don't feel that I'm explaining myself well.

 



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The Secret Fire wrote:

 

Anorlas:  Maybe I will make it my next Tolkien book.  I have not bought anything Tolkien-related since the Children of Hurin came out, so I think I am due for a new book.


Galin wrote:

'Out of curiousity: Is "grieve in Middle-earth, for leaves fall and flowers fade; and my heart yearns, remembering trees and grass that do not die" a quote from the version of the story where Gandalf returns the Elfstone to Galadriel?'

Sorry, I should have been clearer there: yes, she says that to Gandalf. And in the second version Galadriel says similarly (but now to Celebrimbor): 'I am grieved in Middle-earth, for leaves fall and flowers fade that I have loved, so that the land of my dwelling is filled with regret that no Spring can redress.'


This may be an embarrassingly obvious question, but it's something I've never quite understood about the plight of the Elves:

Is the natural state of Middle-Earth that of "passing away", like our Earth is (plants and animals die, things erode, decay, show age, etc), and the Elves "preserve" it only through the use of the Elven rings?  Or was the original state of Arda that of unchanging timelessness?  It seems the Elves mourn the loss and change of everything that they love, but isn't that what would happen normally anyway but for their use of the Elven rings, etc.? Or have I missed some major piece here? They seem to allude to some time "before" when things did not change or decay and I have never figured out when this period was.

If you don't understand what I'm saying it's okay, I don't feel that I'm explaining myself well.

 

 



I am Guessing that was the time before men? They cut down many trees for their buildings and hunt animals for sport, that would have affected the ecosystems of Arda, thus causing the Elves beloved lands to disintegrate.

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But the Elves did seem to have an inate ability to affect nature. In the Silmarillion, when the Noldo first arrived from Aman, flowers bloomed where they feet trod. The niphradil bloomed first where Luthien danced. The rocks of Eregion still sang of the Elven smiths of that country."deep they delved us, fair they wrought us, high they builded us; but they are gone."
The trees responded to the movement of Elves among them, moving their branches to provide pathways for the sure of foot. The Teleri could fashion ships to sail across the horizon and they didn't need rings to accomplish it. Legolas himself was able to do so without assistance. It was said that the Art of the Elf was to draw "magic" from the nature around them and they did not need rings for that either. Thranduil had no Ring but the defences he wrought in his hall could not be breached unless Sauron himself used his power to break them. He and Celeborn was able to renew much of Mirkwood healing many hurts without the aid of any such device or artifact.
  I guess the fairness of the land would dim and fade as the population of the Elves deminished.



-- Edited by Anorlas on Wednesday 23rd of September 2009 02:25:02 AM

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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I think Galadriel or other of the Exiles could at times be remembering Aman, where growth and change was different than in Middle-earth.

Although in any case, according to The Silmarillion, it was said Yavanna set a sleep upon many things that had arisen in the Spring, so that they should not age, but should wait for a time of awakening; and when the Sun was made and the new reckoning began: 'In that time the air of Middle-earth became heavy with the breath of mortality, and the changing and ageing of all things was hastened exceedingly;...' Of Men

So there is that; but for instance, when Tolkien writes that Galadriel had endeavoured to make Lorien 'a memorial of ancient days' I take this to mean her days in the Far West (she was born in the bliss of Valinor). Tolkien noted that the change from Lorinand to Lorien may well have been due to Galadriel herself, keeping in mind the name Lorien of a region in Valinor, a place of rest and shadowy trees and fountains.

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Hobbit from Hobbiton - Rank 4
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BRUNO!

Hey Nevv King

Go into experinaced forums...theres a post called the Adversary.

It's kind of long but the last 5 or 6 posts raise the very point that you mention.

The elves avvlays hankering for a previous time or state of perfection in the past.

Such a shame to vvaste your time...bellybutton gazing on days gone by.

Smell the flovvers vvhilst you can !



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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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'It was this book that finally put an end to the dispute about whether or not Legolas had dark or blond hair. His linage called for blond hair.'

I'm not sure my question was noticed above, but anyway, as far as I know the debate goes on concerning Legolas' hair -- considering that the Sindarin Elves are generally described as mostly dark-haired, yet the golden-haired Elven-king from The Hobbit 'became' the father of Legolas.

I don't remember even the amazing team of Hammond and Scull putting this one to rest smile

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Hobbit from Hobbiton - Rank 4
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Legolas had hair ??????

In my mind he vvas a bald Morgan Freeman

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Filli.
(poke, poke)?


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Galin wrote
I don't remember even the amazing team of Hammond and Scull putting this one to rest.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In "The Lord of the Rings A Reader's Companion" Hammond and Scull make this note on the passage "They were tall, fair of skin and grey-eyed, though their locks were dark, save for the golden house of Finarfin."

"In context these words seem to apply to the Eldar was a whole. In the Book of Lost Tales, Part One pp. 43-4 (compare The Peoples of Middle-earth, pp.76-7), however, Christopher Tolkien quotes a draft for the final paragraph of Appendix F in which it is said that "The Noldor belonged to a race high and beautiful, the elder Children of the World, who now are gone. Tall they were, fair-skinned and grey-eyed, their locks were dark save in the golden house of Finrod." Christopher explains.

"Thus these words describing characters of face and hair were actually written of the Noldor only, and not all of the Eldar: indeed the Vanyar had golden hair, and it was from Fanarfin's Vanyan mother Indis that he and Finrod Felagund and Galadriel his children, had their golden hair that marked them out among the princes of the Noldor. But I am unable to determine how this extraodinary perversion of meaning arose.[p44]"

So I gather...and no one has to agree with me...that other races of Elf...including the Teleri could have hair color other then "dark locks". We have examples in Lorien and Mirkwood of Teleri having golden locks. Thranduil did so there is no reason why his own son should not?

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Hobbit from Hobbiton - Rank 4
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Could Legolas have used dye ?


Check the roots

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All,
Interesting how much attention Legolas merits...and how much feeling he generates.
Here is a simple few paragraphs from
"The Tolkien Gateway"on elvish appearance.

Elven Characteristics

The Elves were a far more beautiful race than Men, and generally taller. Among them, those who had gone to Valinor were the fairest and had the greatest skill of body.

Pointed ears
There are no explicit references to pointed Elvish ears in The Lord of the Rings or The Silmarillion. It was stated elsewhere that "the Quendian (Elvish) ears were more pointed and leaf-shaped than Human. However, practical considerations, including a number of occasions where Men were mistaken for Elves (most notably Túrin Turambar), suggest that the points must have been subtle.
In the Etymologies Tolkien noted the similarity between the words for "leaf" (lassë, las) and "ears" (lasu, lhaw) and suggested an etymological connection. This indicates that he envisioned their ears as leaf-shaped.

Hair color
Elven hair color is quite varied and complex. In general, the Vanyar were golden-haired, and the other Elves (including Noldor, Sindar, and Avari) had dark or even black hair, although some of the Teleri had silver hair. Lúthien Tinúviel and her remote descendant Arwen Undómiel, both described as the fairest of all Elves, were dark haired.
This is not the full picture, however: Finarfin, the youngest son of Finwë, and his descendants (such as Galadriel) had golden hair on account of Finwë's second wife, Indis of the Vanyar. Idril, the daughter of Turgon, had golden hair inherited from her mother, Elenwë of the Vanyar. Even the sons of Fëanor, the eldest Noldorin prince, were not all dark-haired: Maedhros and the twins Amrod and Amras had auburn hair, from their grandfather Mahtan. Fëanor's son Celegorm had blond hair, thus his epithet the Fair in contrast to his brother, Caranthir the Dark.
Additionally, a silver hair colour existed in the royal houses of the Sindar, with Thingol, Círdan, and Celeborn all described as having silver hair. Galadriel displayed an extremely rare hair colour nowhere else observed: "silver-golden" hair, said to be dazzlingly beautiful ("blending the light of the Two Trees, Telperion and Laurelin"), which may have been a result of her unusual mixed Noldoin-Vanyarin-Telerin heritage (her mother was the niece of Thingol). Thranduil, father of Legolas and a Sindarin Elf, is described as having blond hair in The Hobbit, but his son Legolas' own hair colour is not recorded.

Eye color
When Tolkien describes Elven eyes, they tend to be grey. This is certainly true of Lúthien (and her descendants: Elrond, Arwen and her brothers, and Aragorn and the Dúnedain). Voronwë, who guided the man Tuor to Gondolin, also had grey eyes.
Though he was half-Noldorin, Maeglin is said to have dark eyes (possibly from his father Eöl, who was not of the Noldor), while Olwë (the brother of Lúthien's father Thingol, and a Telerin king) had blue eyes. The eye colour of most other Elves is not mentioned, and so would be difficult to generalize.

Androgyny
Because of their (typical) beardlessness and beauty, the Elves are sometimes perceived as androgynous. However, they were probably not meant to be so; Legolas was described in the following way:
"He was tall as a young tree, lithe, immensely strong, able swiftly to draw a great war-bow and shoot down a Nazgûl, endowed with the tremendous vitality of Elvish bodies, so hard and resistant to hurt that he went only in light shoes over rock or through snow, the most tireless of all the Fellowship."
(The Book of Lost Tales Volume 2)

(From The Tolkien Gateway http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Elven_Characteristics)

There are few cross references but still many leads for further research.
Rock on!
Bear




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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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In "The Lord of the Rings A Reader's Companion" Hammond and Scull make this note on the passage "They were tall, fair of skin and grey-eyed, though their locks were dark, save for the golden house of Finarfin."

"In context these words seem to apply to the Eldar was a whole. In the Book of Lost Tales, Part One pp. 43-4 (compare The Peoples of Middle-earth, pp.76-7), however, Christopher Tolkien quotes a draft for the final paragraph of Appendix F in which it is said that "The Noldor belonged to a race high and beautiful, the elder Children of the World, who now are gone. Tall they were, fair-skinned and grey-eyed, their locks were dark save in the golden house of Finrod." Christopher explains.

"Thus these words describing characters of face and hair were actually written of the Noldor only, and not all of the Eldar: indeed the Vanyar had golden hair, and it was from Fanarfin's Vanyan mother Indis that he and Finrod Felagund and Galadriel his children, had their golden hair that marked them out among the princes of the Noldor. But I am unable to determine how this extraodinary perversion of meaning arose. [p44]"
 
OK but note that these words referred to the Noldor in draft writing only, not the final amended version sent to A&U for publication by JRRT himself. Christopher Tolkien would add more commentary in The Peoples Of Middle-Earth (here he first refers to his earlier commentary on p. 44).
 
'... finding in the final use of this passage an 'extraordinary perversion of meaning'. But my father carefully remodelled the passage in order to apply it to the Eldar as a whole, and it does seem 'extraordinary' that he should have failed to observe this point.' CJRT pp. 76-77
 
Italics are mine, for emphasis. JRRT not only remodeled the passage for publication, but he never altered it for the revised second edition of The Lord of the Rings. If we want to account for the Vanyar in some way, perhaps one could imagine the meaning to be the 'Eldar (of Middle-earth)', since the Vanyar had passed West very early in the history of Middle-earth (very, very early I would say).

'So I gather...and no one has to agree with me...that other races of Elf...including the Teleri could have hair color other then "dark locks". We have examples in Lorien and Mirkwood of Teleri having golden locks. Thranduil did so there is no reason why his own son should not?'
 
Yes they could have (and some did) but it seems the specific question of Legolas still remains.
 
Christopher Tolkien's problem with the Appendix F text was that it seemed to take no account of Tolkien's emerging idea of the golden haired Vanyar (which description JRRT never published as far as I recall), but Tolkien also notes specifically in a text called Quendi And Eldar (1959-60): 'In general the Sindar appear to have very closely resembled the Noldor, being dark-haired, strong and tall, but lithe.'
 
So Appendix F works well with respect to the Noldor and Sindar (as I say the Eldar 'of Middle-earth' at least). And there are exceptions to the general rule too: JRRT even writes that 'nearly' all the members of the Vanyar had golden or yellow hair, implying that even some Vanyar were dark-haired. Tolkien noted a variation in Q&E concerning silver hair among the Sindar: 'but this does not seem to be a common feature of the Sindar, though it was found among them occasionally.'
 
So did Legolas, a Sinda by blood (we have no text concerning his mother), inherit his father's exceptional Sindarin golden hair? or did he rather fit the general pattern of the Sindar noted by JRRT in Q&E?
 
And interestingly even Pauline Baynes put a hood on Legolas (Tolkien saw her drawing before he passed on).


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Servants of Mordor - Rank 1
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Quoted from Bear
"Among them, those who had gone to Valinor were the fairest and had the greatest skill of body."
So body is a skill? So all this time I have been training my body skill, that's why I am so Handsomebiggrin.


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Soldier of Beleriand - Rank 3
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Bear wrote:
Lúthien Tinúviel and her remote descendant Arwen Undómiel, both described as the fairest of all Elves, were dark haired.


Just another reason for me to like Tolkien.  We raven-haired beauties don't get enough admiration in the real world.  Clearly the man knew better.  biggrin



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I agree that the point is made that we may never know the truth about Legolas' hair color....bring on the clairol, Killi! Drat Tolkien for being so specific about all his major characters safe one. Love you J.R.R but just wait until I corner you under you favorite tree in Heaven. I've got a bone to pick with you, so prepare to have your ear bent.

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Tolkien did write a description of the Fellowship after seeing P. Baynes' depiction of them, which has only been published in parts (so far), but as I say, since Legolas had a hood on in the painting, and since H&S make no mention of Legolas' hair colour in their Companion, perhaps even this text 'yet to be published in full' (which I would really like to read in full) doesn't speak to the question.

But maybe there's a letter out there that hasn't popped up yet smile

Anyway, from the text Bear quoted for consideration and comment (from Tolkien Gateway):


'There are no explicit references to pointed Elvish ears in The Lord of the Rings or The Silmarillion. It was stated elsewhere that "the Quendian (Elvish) ears were more pointed and leaf-shaped than Human.'

This matter could be updated a bit, since we now have JRRT's Words, Phrases and Passages. The 'elsewhere' in this quote is the linguistic document called Etymologies which was written in the late 1930s, and overlapped a bit with draft writing for The Lord of the Rings. It is thus somewhat early (although obviously not 'Book Of Lost Tales early', but still, it took a number of years for Tolkien to write and publish The Lord of the Rings). 

I would say that statements from Etymologies may or may not represent Tolkien's ultimate view of Elves -- being a linguistic document, I note that it does not represent Tolkien's later history of the Elvish languages in general. 

Over the years it was not unknown for Tolkien to change his mind about things, including things about his Elves.

'In the Etymologies Tolkien noted the similarity between the words for "leaf" (lassë, las) and "ears" (lasu, lhaw) and suggested an etymological connection. This indicates that he envisioned their ears as leaf-shaped.'


Much later, after writing and publishing The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien was engaged in looking at the same general relationship of the words found back in the abandoned Etymologies -- but whatever the reason that some 'leaf-words' (lassi leaves) and words for 'listen' (lasto) and 'ear related words' (lhaw) are connected linguistically, Tolkien does not again, in the later work Words, Phrases And Passages, write specifically that the Quendian ears are more pointed and leaf-shaped than humans -- and one would think he would do so, if it were 'still' true in his mind, considering the late 1930s-ish treatment. 

But the words are yet connected in any case. Hmm.


'Hair color
(...) Maedhros and the twins Amrod and Amras had auburn hair, from their grandfather Mahtan.'

True, and this is my very minor and pedantic point (and I'm sure that Gateway is purposely using the familiar names in any case), but just to ramble, in the context of this idea, Tolkien's naming of these characters reflected their red or red-brown hair.

Thus their names in this context were: Maedros, and both twins were named Amros (Q. Ambarussa), with the -ros part referring to the red-brown hair of the characters (Maedhros on the other hand meant 'Pale-glitter', or did so in the earlier Etymologies at least).

'Fëanor's son Celegorm had blond hair, thus his epithet the Fair in contrast to his brother, Caranthir the Dark.'

I'm not sure Celegorm had blond hair. This is another idea that existed in the late 1930s Silmarillion ('golden was his long hair') and in a Lay, and elsewhere, but Christopher Tolkien removed any golden references for the 1977 Silmarillion: 'on account of the dark hair of the Noldorin princes other than in the golden house of Finarfin' (see I. 44); but he remains 'Celegorm the fair' in The Silmarillion p. 60.' 

Some minor points, but fun to add.





-- Edited by Galin on Friday 25th of September 2009 02:20:02 PM

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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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On the subject of Elf-ears there is another quote in Letter 27:

"A round, jovial face; ears only slightly pointed and 'elvish'." (in reference to Hobbits)

So its pretty definite that Tolkien saw the Elves as having fairly pointed ears, with the Hobbits only exhibiting a small part of this trait.

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Bilbo Baggins wrote:

On the subject of Elf-ears there is another quote in Letter 27:

"A round, jovial face; ears only slightly pointed and 'elvish'." (in reference to Hobbits)

So its pretty definite that Tolkien saw the Elves as having fairly pointed ears, with the Hobbits only exhibiting a small part of this trait.





Some have argued that those who were going to receive this letter would read this as: 'elvish' like the popular notion of Elves -- for there was no Silmarillion or Lord of the Rings to go by at this point. I agree it might be thought a bit odd for JRRT to advise someone about Hobbit ears with 'elvish' if he imagined his Elves had 'regular' ears, but I'm just reporting what I've seen elsewhere on the web. 

What I would point out is rather that this is also another quote from the 1930s, basically concurrent enough with Etymologies. Over the years Tolkien changed his mind, or appears to have changed it, concerning:

[] Elvish height (how tall they were in comparison to Men)

[] Elvish beards IMO (JRRT drew Beleg with a beard in an early picture [and pointed shoes], but much later stated that Elves usually only have beards in their third cycle of life -- and I tend to doubt Tolkien thought Beleg was 'still' bearded according to this later idea, which seems an attempt to explain the aged Shipwright Cirdan, for instance)

[] When Elves mature into adults

[] How Elves reincarnate (here JRRT abandoned a very long held idea that Elves were reincarnated as newborns)

For examples. 

In the 1930s I would agree Tolkien probably imagined his Elves with 'more pointed and leaf-shaped ears (than humans)'. And of course one could argue that simply stating Tolkien 'possibly changed his mind' could generally be raised about something he wrote in 1968 too, for instance.

True enough, but for myself I would like to see something written post The Lord of the Rings here, and this is why I find the newly published Words, Phrases and Passages interesting with respect to this question. 

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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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Do you believe Tolkien's Elves had pointed ears, Galin? If it appears they did in early versions, and then it is not contradicted later on (though many other things regarding Elves might change) is there any reason to doubt it?

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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On this question I'm still on the fence Bilbo. For comparison, here's the citation from Etymologies (more or less, I can't reproduce diacritics for some long vowels). Note that N stands for Noldorin, as at this stage JRRT had not yet fully arrived at 'Sindarin'.

LAS¹- *lasse leaf: Q lasse, N lhass; Q lasselanta leaf-fall, autumn, N lhasbelin(*lassekwelene). cf. Q Narqelion [KWEL]. Lhasgalen Greenleaf, Gnome name of Laurelin. (Some think this is related to the next and *lasse 'ear'. The Quendian ears were more pointed and leaf-shaped than Human).

LAS²- listen. N lhaw ears (of one person), old dual *lasu- whence singular lhewig. Q lár, lasta- listen; lasta listening, hearing - Lastalaika 'sharp-ears', a name, cf. N Lhathleg. N lhathron hearer, listener, eavesdropper (< *la(n)sro-ndo); lhathro or lhathrado listen in, eavesdrop.


For a closer look at the dating of this text in general, see below. Compare to the much later entry in Tolkien's Words, Phrases, and Passages (WPP):


Q lasse 'leaf (S las); pl. lassi (S lais). It is only applied to certain kinds of leaves, especially those of trees, and would not e.g. be used of leaf of a hyacinth (linque). It is thus possibly related to LAS 'listen', and S-LAS stem of Elvish words for 'ear'; Q hlas, dual hlaru. Sindarin dual lhaw, singular lhewig.

lasse 'leaf.'



Here Tolkien is not specifically revising Etymologies (he had abandoned that document years ago), but I note the similarities, as Words, Phrases and Passages is also a linguistic set of papers (and notes), of course.

In both texts Tolkien looks at the bases, and Elvish words for (generally speaking) 'leaf, listen', and 'ear'. In both texts Tolkien also mentions a possible relationship -- but in the later text, post publication of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien does not similarly compare Quendian ears to human ears however.

Does this 'missing' statement constitute a revision of sorts? and even if so, why are these words related in the Eldarin languages? Maybe Tolkien was, in a way, stuck with this relationship, having published lassi, lasto, lhaw. Or maybe JRRT wanted to leave a 'linguistic hint' as to why mortals think Elves have leaf-shaped ears. And were they correct if they did?

Hmm. And I must admit that when WPP arrived I wondered if JRRT would restate his idea from Etymologies in some way, years later...

... but it was not quite the same in any case wink

What is maybe more difficult to do now is read the WPP quote and decide if that alone means the Quendi of Middle-earth had more pointed and 'leaf-shaped' ears than humans (more difficult today because Etymologies has been published for a number of years now, and many people already know about the citation concerning Quendian ears).

If, for instance, Tolkien had published WPP and not Etymologies (that is, if no one had ever seen Etymologies), what would people be posting about Quendian ears and how definitive would be their conclusions?

Tolkien himself never published either text of course, but to me WPP is the later version, in a sense; and even if not a specific revision of Etymologies, it seems a revised look at the relevant words and possible relationship.

Interesting!

____________________

Concerning the dating of Etymologies, Christopher Tolkien notes (some editing for brevity occurs):

'... some of the additions and corrections can be securely dated to the end of 1937 and the beginning of 1938, the time of the abandonment of QS and the beginning of The Lord of the Rings (...) there are relatively few names that belong specifically to The Lord of the Rings; that all of them are quite clearly additions to existing entries or introduce additional base-stems; that almost all were put in very hastily, mere memoranda, and not really accommodated to or explained in relation to the base-stems, and that the great majority come from the earlier part of The Lord of the Rings -- before the breaking of the fellowship. (...) Clear cases of names from later in The Lord of the Rings do occur (...) but are very few.

'I conclude therefore that while my father did for two or three years make rather desultory entries in the Etymologies as new names emerged in The Lord of the Rings, he gave up even this as the new work proceeded (...) The Etymologies, then, reflect the linguistic situation in Beleriand envisaged in the Lhammas (see especially the third version, Lammasethen. p. 194), with Noldorin fully preserved as the language of the Exiles, though profoundly changed from its Valinorean form and having complex interrelations in respect of names of 'Beleriandic' (Ilkorin), especially the speech of Doriath'



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All,
I started chewing on this when The Secret Fire brought it to a thread on September 21st, 2009.
As Galin and others  pursued the topic we wandered off to what elves looked like. (please - no criticism is implied...it makes the threads fun when we digress)
So I went digging  to answer what The Secret Fire was looking for;

"What I'm looking for here:
* Which variation of the Elfstone story do you feel is most likely to be accurate?
* Which variations, if any, are present in Tolkien texts?
* Is this Wikipedia article full of crap or is it backed up by actual text resources?
* Which version of the story do you prefer?
* Any interesting tidbits about the Elfstone that I haven't mentioned here."
(Tolkien Forums > General Lore discussion (standard) > The Elfstone > The Secret Fire > September 21st, 2009)

And in my travels I found this scholastic essay with text references.
"Elessar is an Eldarin word whose English equivalent is "elfstone."  It has two meanings, both associated with Aragorn.  It first appears in Tolkien's writings in The Lord of the Rings when Galadriel uses the word in both its senses.  First, Elessar is the name of a gemstone possessed by Galadriel and given by her to Aragorn: "Then she lifted from her lap a great stone of a clear green, set in a silver brooch that was wrought in the likeness of an eagle with outspread wings; and as she held it up the gem flashed like the sun shining through the leaves of spring."  As she gives him the stone , Galadriel uses the term in its second sense, as a name for Aragorn: "In this hour take the name that was foretold for you, Elessar, the Elfstone of the house of Elendil!"  When Aragorn pins "the brooch upon his breast," the Elessar manifests both ennobling and restorative qualities: "Those who saw him wondered; for they had not marked before how tall and kingly he stood, and it seemed to them that many years of toil had fallen from his shoulders." (The Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring, Book II, Chapter VIII - "Farewell to Lórien", pg. 375)
The effect of the Elessar upon Aragorn suggests further detail in regard to both meanings of the word.  In stating that the stone made him appear "kingly," Tolkien implies the precise meaning of Elessar as a name for Aragorn:  it is the name that he takes when he becomes King of Gondor and Arnor.  However, Aragorn initiates use of it long before that event, albeit infrequently: he first uses the name when the Company's boats pass the Argonath (The Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring, Book II, Chapter IX - "The Great River", pg. 393) and, shortly thereafter, when he reveals himself to Eomer. (The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book III, Chapter II - "The Riders of Rohan", pg. 433)
In stating that the Elfstone made "many years of toil" fall from Aragorn's shoulders. Tolkien implies the healing power associated with the stone.  In the Houses of Healing in Minas Tirith, after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Aragorn uses the name in both its senses but emphasizes his abilities as a healer: "In the high tongue of old I am Elessar, the Elfstone, and Envinyatar, the Renewer: and he lifted from his breast the green stone that lay there." (The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book V, Chapter VIII - "The Houses of Healing", pg. 863) It is in ministering to the wounded in the Houses of Healing that Aragorn reveals himself to the people of Gondor as their King, and so they proclaim him: "And word went through the City: 'The King is come again indeed.'  And they named him Elfstone, because of the green stone that he wore, and so the name that was foretold at his birth that he should bear was chosen for him by his own people." (ibid, pg. 871)
The unforeseen appearance of the elfstone in Galadriel's hand raises questions about its origin that Tolkien did not answer until after The Lord of the Rings was published.  In a short piece published in Unfinished Tales, Tolkien provides two stories of the elfstone's appearance in Middle-earth.
First, the stone is made by Enerdhil, a jewel-smith of Gondolin, who loved the appearance of sunlight shining through leaves and captured that light in the stone.  Enerdhil gave the stone to Idril, daughter of King Turgon, and it did not perish when Gondolin was destroyed.  Idril gave the stone to Eärendil, her son by Tuor. The Elessar bestowed healing powers on one who touched it, and Eärendil, so empowered, healed Elves and Men in Sirion and made the land fair.  When Eärendil sailed from Middle-earth, the Elessar departed with him.  The Elessar of Eärendil came to Valinor, where Yavanna gave it to Olórin (Mithrandir) to give to Galadriel when he went to Middle-earth.  Olorin instructed Galadriel to use the elfstone to make Lòrien the most beautiful place in Middle-earth and to keep it until the coming of the man named Elessar, Aragorn.
The second story is a variation that begins after the departure of the Elessar with Eärendil.  Another less-powerful Elessar was made in later years for Galadriel by Celebrimbor, who was also of Gondolin and was Enerdhil's friend.  Galadriel used the stone to make Lórien verdant.  Later, when Celebrimbor gave Galadriel the Elven ring Nenya, she no longer needed the Elessar to preserve Lórien.  She gave it to her daughter Celebrian, who gave it in turn to her daughter Arwen, who gave it to Aragorn. (Unfinished Tales, Part Two, Chapter IV- "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", pgs. 248-250)
In Unfinished Tales, Tolkien does not say which version of the story is definitive, and both can be reconciled with the facts of The Lord of the Rings. - Paul Edmund Thomas
(Thomas, P. E. author  "Elessar" J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia. , Michael Drout editor, Scholarship & Critical Assessment ed. 2007.)

In looking over the stories of the Elessar I like the idea of the Valar still holding Elves and Men in their hearts.  So when Yavanna gives Olórin/Gandalf the elfstone and he in turn gives it to Galadriel who gives it to Aragorn, I love the connection...I like the handing down through daughters too...but I love the reconnecting of Valar and the peoples of Middle-earth.
While I really like how Tolkien uses the elfstone to validate Aragorn's regency in The Lord of the Rings the piece in Unfinished Tales seems to be a wonderful story in itself.
The new depth that is given to Galadriel's character shines in both versions of the Elessar.

And it is in these pages that a possible third version lurks...more or less connected to Appendix B in The Lord of the Rings; "in the head note to the Tale of Years of the Second age, as it appeared in the first edition: 'many of the Sindar passed eastward and established realms in the forests far away.  The chief of these were Thranduil in the north of Greenwood the Great, and Celeborn in the south of the forest.' In the revised edition this remark about Celeborn was omitted, and instead there appears a reference to his dwelling in Lindon." (and here a last paragraph eludes that the powers of the elfstone are actually powers of a different gem; ergo another version?)
"Lastly, it may be remarked that the healing power here ascribed to the Elessar at the Havens of Sirion is in The Silmarillion attributed to the Silmaril.(Unfinished Tales, Part Two, Chapter IV- "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", pg. 252)

We can dive deeper into different texts and references...
Find rare outsources...
New hypothesis supported by obscure references...
I have got to bite the bullet...
The Elessar is King of Gondor and Arnor...and a healing green elfstone...

Aragorn is my King!


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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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In Unfinished Tales, Tolkien does not say which version of the story is definitive, and both can be reconciled with the facts of The Lord of the Rings. - Paul Edmund Thomas

Please do try to reconcile version I  wink




-- Edited by Galin on Tuesday 29th of September 2009 02:17:17 AM

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Very interesting, Bear!  And here I thought this particular thread just didn't capture your interest. 

I guess it turns out that still waters run deep, and all that.

I like the angle on the Elfstone's healing powers.  I always took those "healing powers" that were mentioned to be metaphorical instead of literal.  I didn't know the stone actually had the power to heal and take away years of toil.

But then again, being a blessed stone of Elvish origin, it should have been obvious to me that it would have such powers.

Galin, I'm not sure a convincing argument for what you are looking for CAN be made.  I think this is just one of those circumstances where the story violates its own canon and it was simply overlooked or ignored, either by JRR Tolkien or Christopher Tolkien. It is interesting to speculate, though.

-- Edited by The Secret Fire on Monday 28th of September 2009 11:08:52 PM

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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I wrote: '... that maybe it [the three sentence text] represents Tolkien abandoning the two story approach and going with an altered version of Tale II.'


Ach, I just realized that since Tolkien appears to have made a 'later' revision to version I, this makes such a theory (it was pure speculation to begin with) arguably less likely -- for if Tolkien's end note really 'abandons' version I would seem a bit odd that he later introduce Galadriel's ban to it. I suppose the concluding section could have been 'later' too but there appears to be no indication of this (that I recall).

I would love to have more external dating here: it looks like Tolkien had not yet made the change Inglor Felagund to Finrod Felagund (at least certainly), because Galadriel says 'Of Finrod's children I am the last' (CJRT altered this himself for Unfinished Tales in order to avoid confusion) -- hmm, nor does she mention Orodreth as her brother here, something it seems that JRRT ultimately intended to change.

A very interesting text in any case!


-- Edited by Galin on Wednesday 30th of September 2009 01:09:28 PM

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