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Topic: betraying Gondolin

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Date: Sep 13, 2010
betraying Gondolin

Sorry about the length!

Maeglin is usually noted as betraying the location of Gondolin in that he seemingly gave the needed details to allow an assault to take place. If I recall correctly, in earlier versions of the Túrin saga, Húrin's release did not reveal the location of Gondolin in any measure, thus the following from The Wanderings of Húrin is a newer conception:


'Yet there were ears that heard the words that Húrin spoke, and report of all came soon to the Dark Throne in the north; and Morgoth smiled, for he knew now clearly in what region Turgon dwelt, though because of the eagles no spy of his could yet come within sight of the land behind the Encircling Mountains. This was the first evil that the freedom of Húrin achieved.'  JRRT, The Wanderings of Húrin, The War of the Jewels -- used in Of the Ruin of Doriath, The Silmarillion.

CJRT then reveals: At this point in the draft manuscript my father wrote: 'Later when captured and Maeglin wished to buy his release with treachery, Morgoth must answer laughing, saying: Stale news will buy nothing. I know this already, I am not so easily blinded! So Maeglin was obliged to offer more -- to undermine resistance in Gondolin.'  [a further note of almost exact wording adds] 'and to compass the death of Tuor and Earendil if he could. If he did he would be allowed to retain Idril (said Morgoth).' Note 30 The Wanderings of Húrin

I have no problem with Christopher Tolkien's decision to combine descriptions here for the 1977 Silmarillion. Combining Qenta Noldorinwa (QN) and the Wanderings of Húrin (WH) leaves the impression that Húrin betrayed a general location, and Maeglin's betrayal was needed for the assault -- that is, Maeglin provided the 'very' location (the word very was added by CJRT for The Silmarillion), and 'the ways whereby it might be found and assailed' (from QN). Christopher Tolkien (commentary The Fall of Gondolin, The Book of Lost Tales) even notes that: 'Thus in the Silmarillion Morgoth remained in ignorance until Maeglin's capture of the precise location of Gondolin, and Maeglin's information was of correspondingly greater value to him, as it was also of greater damage to the city.'

But if the notes revealed in WH were meant to imply a revised conception (I don't think CJRT would necessarily disagree with that, unless I've missed something crucial here, though granted I have no certain way of knowing in any case), then what of the impression if we exclude Qenta Noldorinwa?

CJRT noted in the Foreword of WJ that so much of the last chapters of Quenta Silmarillion remained in the form of the Qenta Noldorinwa of 1930 (aside from meagre hints) -- in other words, they weren't updated in the 1950s for example, like earlier chapters had been, and: 'For this there can be no simple explanation, but it seems to me that an important element was the centrality that my father accorded to the story of Húrin and Morwen and their children, Túrin Turambar and Nienor Niniel. This became for him, I think, the dominant and absorbing story of the end of the Elder Days, in which complexity of motive and character, trapped in the mysterious workings of Morgoth's curse, sets it altogether apart. (...)'

He then notes the new dimension to the ruin that Húrin's release would bring: his catastrophic entry into the land of Haleth's people (WH). But could Húrin as the 'principle betrayer' of the location of Gondolin be part of this too?



In The Book of Lost Tales the information about Gondolin from Meglin concerns the fashion of the plain and city, of the host, and the hoard of weapons, and he tells that Melko's host could not hope to overthrow the walls and gates of Gondolin even if they availed to win into the plain. Morgoth already knew where Gondolin was, but Meglin helped him devise a plan. The idea that Maeglin's treachery would involve other factors beyond location would not be a wholly new departure, but rather more like a return to an earlier notion (in general at least), where Melko already knew the location of Gondolin.

I also find Christopher Tolkien's choice of phrasing here interesting (the first is from commentary to WH, followed in the book by the text from QN -- the second from commentary to the Tale of Years): 'Thus the story in Q was changed (IV. 143)' [] '510 The story that the site of Gondolin was revealed to Morgoth by Maeglin was later changed: see pp. 272-3 and note 30.' To my mind that's a rather simple way of putting things if the story was not notably changed. If Húrin's words were simply too general to be of real use, then how much has the story 'changed' if Maeglin essentially still provides the needed location of Gondolin?


If anyone has read this far without dropping off to sleep -- comments, including disagreements or whatever, welcome.


Actually I haven't had much feedback wherever I've posted this (although challenged a bit in one forum), probably because I'm really only suggesting a possible course in the first place, and in the bigger picture, Maeglin -- in either version -- still betrays Gondolin.

Or maybe it's just too boring for some biggrin

But if the matter from WH might be said to represent a 'new path' -- by in part returning to an older path (as opposed to simply being brief and seeming like a new path) -- I thought I might at least raise the possibility here as well. If so we might have just a bit more focus on the Turin saga, so to speak, if it was to be Hurin who had, albeit unknowingly, at last given Morgoth the information he long sought: the location of Gondolin in enough measure to ultimately attack it. 


-- Edited by Galin on Monday 13th of September 2010 04:39:18 PM

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Date: Sep 13, 2010
Galin,
I saw it much the same way you did.
Hurin, in ignorance, betrays the location of Gondolin.
But knowing where a target is does not mean you can hit it.
Maeglin, in fear for his life and deeply in lust for Idril,
"provided the 'very' location (the word very was added by CJRT for The Silmarillion), and 'the ways whereby it might be found and assailed."
So Gondolin becomes a marked target revealed in range, weapons, defenses, and is infiltrated by a fifth column (Maeglin)

There are a few questions.
How did this obsession with Idril begin?  Did Idril give Maeglin any sort of encouragement even inadvertently?  How does Morgoth posses this knowledge?
The evil manipulation of Melko, Melkor, Morgoth, (or whatever name he is given) is revealed after the fall of Gondolin to Hurin how?
And, more important to my own interest, ... what was the source of JRRT's inspiration for the story?

How do we know  ... "CJRT noted in the Foreword of WJ that so much of the last chapters of Quenta Silmarillion remained in the form of the Qenta Noldorinwa of 1930 (aside from meager hints) -- in other words, they weren't updated in the 1950s for example, like earlier chapters had been, and: 'For this there can be no simple explanation, but it seems to me that an important element was the centrality that my father accorded to the story of Húrin and Morwen and their children, Túrin Turambar and Nienor Niniel. This became for him, I think, the dominant and absorbing story of the end of the Elder Days, in which complexity of motive and character, trapped in the mysterious workings of Morgoth's curse, sets it altogether apart."
Certainly we have CJRT's word but what about the huge gap from 1930's to the 1970's... do we have any word from JRRT himself about it being the central story?

As to dropping off to sleep ... not likely my friend ... these are deep waters and cold ... we will swim towards the facts you reveal ... and enjoy the dip!
In fellowship,
Bear


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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Date: Sep 14, 2010
Just to check we are on the same page -

1. The original notion was that Hurin betrayed the "region" in which Gondolin lay, and later Maeglin betrayed the actual location. This is the version that made it into the published Silmarillion.

2. The later notion was that Hurin's betrayal had satisfied Morgoth enough in terms of location so that Maeglin then had to offer more precise information on defences and also to try and erode the Elves from within, and kill Tuor and Earendil if possible. (wasn't Tuor already long gone to Valinor by this point, and had received elven-life?).

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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MOS, it's a bit more complicated, as the early notion from The Book of Lost Tales seems to have changed by the time of the earliest Silmarillion and the Quenta of 1930 (also known as Qenta Noldorinwa, thus Q or QN). And my point is that it seems to have changed again in the 1950s after The Lord of the Rings was written -- Hurin's betrayal entered the scene but parts of QN itself were never really updated in the 1950s or later, which left a problem for Christopher Tolkien.

What made it into the published Silmarillion seems like a combination of early and later description, but technically, the later material appears to be Hurin's betrayal from the Wanderings of Hurin and the notes that go with it -- those notes that explain Maeglin had offered (at first) his 'stale news' to Morgoth, and so on, noting the first two quotes in my opening post.

Here's a very rough and simplified summary:

Pre-Lord of the Rings

The Book of Lost Tales (the only complete long prose version of the Fall of Gondolin ever written): Melkor already knows where Gondolin is before capturing Meglin, and so Meglin gives him other kinds of information (see above), noting here that none of it is truly 'location' in the sense that Gondolin is finally revealed to Morgoth, but further tactical information.

The Quenta or 'Qenta Noldorinwa' (1930): Meglin now reveals the location of Gondolin (see below for more detail here). And here is the text (also see below to compare with the 1977 Silmarillion version): 'Meglin was no weakling or craven, but the torment wherewith he was threatened cowed his soul, and he purchased his life and freedom by revealing unto Morgoth the place of Gondolin and the ways whereby it might be found and assailed.'

The Children of Hurin (and early Silmarillion writings): Hurin's release does not reveal, in any measure, where Gondolin is.


Post-Lord of the Rings

Wanderings of Hurin and notes: quoted in first post in this thread, but basically Hurin's words allow Morgoth to know 'clearly' in what region Turgon dwelt -- but his spies cannot come close -- Morgoth tells Maeglin he must provide more than his stale news, and so on, as quoted.

Quenta or Qenta Noldorinwa of 1930 essentially remains unrevised, and still contains the wording as quoted above in this post.


The 1977 Silmarillion

Christopher Tolkien retains the statement from Qenta Noldorinwa (adding the word 'very' there, thus 'the very place of Gondolin' and so on) along with the description from Wanderings of Hurin, but does not incorporate the WH notes concerning Maeglin however (in my opinion, arguably as they are notes not finished text).

_______________

So the subsequent 'combination' will imply, as it must in a sense, that Hurin's information regarding location is yet too vague, and thus Maeglin still has important information regarding location to impart.

To my mind that's why CJRT added the word 'very' for the 1977 Silmarillion, in an effort to reconcile both texts, because otherwise the reader might wonder why it is that both Hurin and Maeglin provide location information. And I think that's why, when Christopher Tolkien describes the tale as represented in the 1977 Silmarillion, he says 'precise location', because that is the effect of retaining QN with WH.


Such a combination is quite possible as a version, and again this is in no way a negative criticism of the choice for the constructed Silmarillion, but what I'm suggesting is maybe Qenta Noldorinwa (essentially an early Silmarillion) was going to be revised to read something like the notes to Wanderings of Hurin. That is, the story had 'changed' making Hurin the principle betrayer of Gondolin's location (by accident, though some might argue he should not have cried out in any case). This is the information Morgoth long sought, but before he raised his attack Maeglin was snared in any case, who was to betray Gondolin by undermining resistance and so on.

Perhaps there was yet to be more tactical information from Maeglin, because WH describes that no spy could come within sight of the land, but technically this is not noted in the WH notes (though as I say mere brevity may be a factor here), unless it can be said to be part of 'undermining resistance' perhaps. 

Good tactical information is important to an assault, yes, but in my opinion anyway, surely Morgoth, had he never captured Maeglin, would still have come with war against Gondolin at some point, and thus Morgoth knowing clearly in which region he could find Gondolin is arguably quite the important revelation -- thanks to Hurin not Maeglin.

So we possibly have a shift of emphasis over to Hurin regarding location, which now meant that Maeglin must offer Morgoth other things.

__________

In the Sketch (S) or Earliest Silmarillion, Christopher Tolkien notes that an important structural change had entered, because in the earlier tale Melko had discovered Gondolin before Meglin was captured, and '... but the words 'by revealing Gondolin' strongly suggest the later story, in which Morgoth did not know where it lay.' CJRT, commentary, The Earliest Silmarillion. And in commentary to Q or QN: 'In the story of Meglin's treachery in Q it is expressely stated (as it is not in S, though it is almost certainly implied) that he revealed the actual situation of Gondolin, of which Morgoth was until then ignorant.' CJRT, commentary The Quenta (or Qenta Noldorinwa)

For comparison to QN: 'Maeglin was no weakling or craven, but the torment wherewith he was threatened cowed his spirit, and he purchased his life and freedom by revealing to Morgoth the very place of Gondolin and the ways whereby it might be found and assailed.' The constructed Silmarillion, 1977


Ach! another long post biggrin



-- Edited by Galin on Tuesday 14th of September 2010 06:33:05 PM

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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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An interesting thread thus far. Have you come to any conclusions as to which "version" you deem the most 'valid', Galin? Any hint as to which version J.R.R. would have gone with if he could have chosen?

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Not a solid conclusion, but today I tend to lean toward the Hurin tale: that Hurin was to accidentally betray Gondolin, and thus Morgoth's plan was at work, as it would be elsewhere. The notes may be brief, and some have argued that Morgoth might be lying a bit regarding the 'stale news', but to me the notes seem perfectly in accord with the introduction of Hurin's cry here -- causing Morgoth to smile and so on, when he learned of it.

In short, Maeglin's news being 'stale' makes perfect sense if Morgoth is telling the truth and Hurin had revealed Turgon's city. 

But it's a bit of a guess. What about CJRT? I would love to ask Christopher Tolkien himself what he meant, though the wording in this one: '510 The story that the site of Gondolin was revealed to Morgoth by Maeglin was later changed: see pp. 272-3 and note 30.' actually seems (to me) to imply that CJRT might agree that Tolkien had really shifted Maeglin's role back to betrayal in 'other ways' such as found in BLT.

In any case the question might help illustrate the difficulties involved in constructing the 1977 Silmarillion.



-- Edited by Galin on Thursday 16th of September 2010 01:10:25 PM

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Rohirrim of Edoras - Rank 4
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I am, really, swimming in waters too deep for the likes of me here but just a venture...
It's hard for me to picture a man like Hurin even inadvertantly exposing the whereabouts of a super secret lair. I understand the poetic value of the warrior exposing that which he would protect but if a "military" man is told mum's the word then there is no other. I've had the priviledge to know men in the US military and for those with any sort of info to not be divulged, you can't even find a picture of their person and to take one youself is a huge, dangerous no-no, let alone derive any info, even obscure, from time spent with them.

However, for one scorned, Maeglin for instance, there is no final depth to the darkness, nothing to inhibit the extent of their revenge or justification. If it is a malicious heart the result is bad, but if it is a heart that feels they know best for the one they crave, a heart mislead by their own disillusionment, most times it is worse.

I think in either case, wrong must be placed at the root. Morgoth sowed evil and, no matter which soil was most fertile for him, he reaped the bounty of his own evil.

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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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lomoduin wrote:
It's hard for me to picture a man like Hurin even inadvertantly exposing the whereabouts of a super secret lair. I understand the poetic value of the warrior exposing that which he would protect but if a "military" man is told mum's the word then there is no other. I've had the priviledge to know men in the US military and for those with any sort of info to not be divulged, you can't even find a picture of their person and to take one youself is a huge, dangerous no-no, let alone derive any info, even obscure, from time spent with them.

I wonder if any of those men have endured 28 solid years on a seat on a high mountain above hell while enduring serious psychological torture? biggrin Not forgetting what the scenery must have looked like, with little or no sun and unpoluted air.



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