5. Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor
Probably the most complicated chapter of the book! It introduces the Elves, takes them back and forth between Middle-earth and Valinor, and then splits them into lots of funny-sounding clans.
The Awakening of the Elves
– While the Valar were living in Valinor, with their realm lit by the light of the Two Trees, Middle-earth was still in twilight after the destruction of the Lamps.
– Only Yavanna and Oromë still came down to Middle-earth. Yavanna sorrowed greatly for the despoilment of Melkor, and she set a sleep over many things so that they would stay safe for a future time of awakening
– Melkor stayed in Utumno, gathering the Balrogs around him, breeding monsters (presumably the start of the orcs). He also built another fortress called Angband, positioned against any attack from Aman. Sauron, the lieutenant of Melkor, was placed in charge.
– Yavanna came to realise that the time for the elves to awake was near, and was worried that they would awake in darkness. But Manwë told her that they were destined to awake in the dark, and first see the light of stars. Varda then went forth and beheld the distant stars, and from the top of Taniquetil, she took the dews collected from Telperion and made new and brighter stars.
– In the hour when she finished her labours, the Elves awoke at Cuiviénen, also called the Water of Awakening.
– The first thing the elves saw were the stars shining in the sky. From then on, elves revered Varda (Elbereth) above all others, and have ever loved the starlight.
– The elves walked through the Earth in wonder, beginning to make speech, and to give names to the things they saw around them. They called themselves the “Quendi” – those that speak with voices.
– After the Elves awoke, Melkor sent shadows and evil spirits to spy on them and waylay them, and often, if an elf strayed too far from safety, he would disappear, never to return. The Elves said that the Hunter had caught them, and their earliest stories contained shadow-shapes stealing around the shores of Cuiviénen, and a dark Rider on a wild horse that would pursue the elves and devour them (echoes of Ringwraiths, anyone?).
– It is not certain what happened to the elves that were caught by Melkor, but the wise of Middle-earth suggested that they were taken to Utumno and slowly tortured and corrupted into the Orcs.
– The first of the Valar to come across the Elves was Oromë, who by chance passed by Cuiviénen and heard the sound of singing. He named the Elves “Eldar” – the people of the stars. When the elves first saw him, astride his great horse Nahar, many of the Quendi were afraid, and hid or fled. But those who stayed saw the light of Valinor shining in his face and were drawn towards him.
Battle of the Powers
– When Oromë heard of the troubles surrounding the Elves, he returned to Valinor to inform the rest of the Valar, and so while they rejoiced at the awakening of the First Children of Ilúvatar, their happiness was tinged with sorrow. While Oromë then returned to Middle-earth to live with the elves, the rest of the Valar debated on what to do about Melkor.
– Manwë sought the counsel of Ilúvatar, and then told the Valar that they should take up again the mastery of Arda at whatever cost, and deliver the Quendi from the shadow of Melkor.
– They therefore went over to Middle-earth armed for war, and met Melkor in the Battle of the Powers. Melkor never forgot that this war was made for the sake of the Elves, and that they were the cause of his downfall.
– Melkor fled before the Valar to Utumno.
– The Valar set a guard on Cuiviénen so that the elves knew nothing of the war, and then besieged Utumno.
– During the mighty battles, the Great Sea that lay between Aman and Middle-earth grew larger and deeper, highlands were newly raised, and the lands of the north were laid waste.
– Eventually the Valar broke through into Utumno and Melkor fled down to his fortress’ deepest pit. There Tulkas wrestled with him, cast him upon his face, and bound him. They took him as a captive back to Valinor.
– Back in Valinor, Melkor asked Manwë for pardon, but his plea was ignored and he was cast into the Halls of Mandos for three ages.
Summoning the Quendi to Valinor
– The Valar decided to summon the Elves to Valinor, fearing for their welfare in the twilight of Middle-earth and also loving their beauty.
– Oromë was sent back to Middle-earth to guide the Elves to Aman, though many of them proved reluctant to move from their homes. Apart from Oromë, they had only seen the Valar full of wrath, on their way to war, and were filled with dread.
– Oromë eventually chose representatives from the elves to be taken to Valinor and speak for their people. These representatives were:
– The three elves went to Valinor, and were filled with awe by the glory and majesty of the Valar, and the light of the Trees and decided that they would recommend that the Quendi move over to Aman.
The sundering of the Elves
– However, this recommendation caused the first sundering of the elves. All of Ingwë’s people were willing to follow Oromë, as were most of Finwë’s and Elwë’s people – and all these were known as the Eldar (or sometimes the Eldalië). But many elves refused the summons, preferring the starlight and wide spaces of Middle-earth. These were known as the Avari.
– Eldar = those who were willing to follow Oromë to Valinor
– Avari = those who refused the summons and wanted to stay in Middle-earth
– The Eldar arranged themselves into three hosts for their journey over to Aman:
– Ingwë’s host – the first to set forth and the smallest. His elves were the Vanyar.
– Finwë’s host – the second to set forth and the second smallest. His elves were the Noldor.
– Elwë’s led his host with his brother Olwë because the number of the third host was so large. They were the Teleri.
– Oromë led the Elves from Cuiviénen to the western shores of Middle-earth, a journey which lasted many years.
– Some elves turned aside from the journey on their way to the western seas of Middle-earth. The majority of these elves were from the Teleri, who lingered on the road, not sure whether they wanted to leave the twilight of Middle-earth. Some went to live in the forests and mountains of Middle-earth, and others lived by the shores of the Western Sea.
– The elves who went straight on the Great Journey are called Calaquendi – Elves of the Light
– The elves who delayed on the way are called Úmanyar – “those not of Aman”. A particular group of these elves was led by Lenwë of the host of Olwë. He led his people down the Anduin – and they became known as the Nandor.
– The Úmanyar are often grouped with the Avari as both groups never completed the Great Journey. The combined group is known as the Moriquendi (Elves of the Dark).
– Eventually the elves got to the edge of the Great Sea.
The Sundering of the Elves – pictorial version