Beren son of Barahir
Culture: Beornings, House of Bëor, First House of the Edain
Lands: Dorthonion, Doriath
Beren son of Barahir was the only one of the twelve companions of Barahir to survive the onslaught of Morgoth upon them in Dorthonion after the Dagor Bragollach.
Barahir and his twelve companions fled to a lake in Dorthonion called Tar Aeluin. That lake, it was said, was hallowed by Melian the Maia and all of the lands around it were wild. There the outlaws hid, and Morgoth searched long for them for he hated them and desired to kill all of them if he could.
One among the companions of Barahir was named Gorlim son of Angrim. He was married to a woman named Eilinel. When he returned to his home from the Dagor Bragollach he found it plundered and empty. He feared his wife either killed or captured so he fled and joined Barahir in the wild around Tar Aeluin. Doubt would often take him though, back to his home to see if his wife had returned and the spies of Morgoth learned of his journeys back and forth.
One night as Gorlim approached his former home, it seemed to him that a light shone through the window, and it appeared that his wife was calling to him from inside the house. He went to his home, but it was a trap and he was captured and brought before Sauron. Sauron questioned him long and promised to Gorlim that he could see his wife again if he would just betray Barahir and tell Sauron where he and his companions hid. Gorlim was desperate to see Eilinel, so he told his captor all he wanted to know and then Sauron laughed. He told Gorlim that he could now join his wife in death and he killed him.
Barahir sent his son Beren to spy on their enemies for news one night and while he was sleeping he had a dream. In this dream the wraith of Gorlim came to him and confessed his treachery and told Beren to go to his father. But Beren arrived too late. Morgoth had surrounded Barahir and his companions and had killed them all. When Beren arrived he buried his father and he swore an oath of vengeance upon his enemies.
Beren pursued the Orcs who had slain the remainder of his folk and he came upon them in the night. The Orc Captain sat before a fire and he held in his hand the hand of Barahir, upon which could be seen the ring given to him by Finrod, and he was boasting his kill. Beren sprung from the woods and he slew the Orcs Captain and he took his father’s hand and he fled.
For four years Beren wandered in the woods of Dorthonion alone and he did not fear death, only captivity. The birds and the beasts became his friends, and they aided him when they could, and he never again ate flesh nor killed any living thing that did not serve Morgoth. Tales of Beren were told throughout Beleriand and were heard in Doriath and even by Morgoth himself. Morgoth grew furious and he put a price on Beren’s head little less than the price upon the head of Fingon the High King of the Noldor himself. Sauron searched far and wide for Beren and took many werewolves who were in his service.
Beren fled and came finally through a long and dangerous journey to Doriath. He wound his way somehow through the maze of the Girdle of Melian and there he came upon the daughter of King Thingol and Melian the Maia, Lúthien. He was weak and bent with woe but when he espied Lúthien dancing on the grass, he came under her spell and all of his hurts were healed. Lúthien disappeared and Beren was stricken dumb as he wandered searching for her. He named her Tinúviel ‘Nightingale’ for he knew no other name for her.
One day in spring Lúthien began to sing and Beren was released from his spell of silence. He cried out to her, ‘Tinúviel!’ She heard this name and she came to him, and as she looked at him doom fell upon her and she loved him, but she turned and fled. Beren lay down in a great happiness and grief and he fell into what seemed a deep sleep where he was cold as stone and his heart was barren and forsaken.
Against all hope, Lúthien returned to Beren and she came then often to him. They wandered together in the woods and no greater joy was ever had by any of the Children of Ilúvatar, though for them their joy was brief.
Another also loved Lúthien and he was Daeron, a minstrel, and he saw her meetings with Beren and he told the news to her father, the King of Doriath. King Thingol was filled with rage for he loved Lúthien above all else and he had refused to ever take any mortals into his service. He asked his daughter about the man but she would not speak of him until Thingol promised that he would neither slay him nor imprison him.
Lúthien led Beren before her father and Thingol questioned him asking him who he was and why he came forth as a thief into his land unwelcomed. But Beren answered, “My fate, O King, led me hither, through perils such as few even of the Elves would dare. And here I have found what I sought not indeed, but finding I would possess for ever. For it is above all gold and silver, and beyond all jewels. Neither rock, nor steel, nor the fires of Morgoth, nor all the powers of the Elf-kingdoms, shall keep from me the treasure that I desire. For Lúthien you daughter is the fairest of all the Children of the World.”
Thingol became angry but remembering the oath he had promised to Lúthien not to slay this man, he did nothing. Beren showed to the king the Ring of Barahir that had been give to his father by Finrod as reward for his service to him and Thingol was filled with even more wrath. But, Melian whispered to her husband that though it was not clear how, their fates were wound together and that he should spare his life. So Thingol sat in silence as he looked at his daughter. Finally he spoke to the man and with his words the kingdom of Doriath was dealt its doom and he was ensnared in the Doom of Mandos. He said, “Bring to me in your hand a Silmaril form Morgoth’s crown; and then, if she will, Lúthien may set her hand in yours.”
So Beren set off, making his way to Nargothrond where dwelt King Finrod who had given Barahir his ring. He walked through the guarded woods around the entrance to the city and he held ever aloft that ring so that the Elves there would not slay him. They came down and they waylaid him, but seeing the ring they bowed and brought him before the king.
Beren told to Finrod the errand of Thingol and the king perceived that Thingol desired Beren’s death. But, since he had long ago sworn an oath to protect always the kin of Barahir, he promised to aid Beren on his quest for the Silmaril though the sons of Fëanor would pursue them if they came to success. Ten of Finrod’s folk stood by him and left Nargothrond when he went.
Beren and Finrod set out and as they passed beneath the Shadowy Mountains, they came upon a company of Orcs. They slew them and then through the arts of Finrod they were all disguised as Orcs themselves. In those forms they made their way to the lands held by Sauron and he saw them and when they did not check in with him, as all companies were commanded to do, he sent some out to stop them and they were brought before him. There Sauron stripped them of their disguises but he could not guess their names. He threw them into a pit and there a werewolf would devour one of the companions from time to time.
When Beren and Finrod were cast into the pit, a darkness came upon Lúthien and she asked for the counsel of her mother. Melian told her where Beren was and Lúthien was determined to go and save him herself. She sought the aid of Daeron the minstrel though, and he again revealed her secret to her father. Thingol had a house built in which to keep Lúthien prisoner and there she was put.
Lúthien used her powers of enchantment to cause her hair to grow very long and she wove a great robe from it. The robe hid her beauty and it was laden with the spell of sleep. There were a few strands that remained and she made these into a rope which she dangled in front of the guards on the ground, causing them to fall asleep. She climbed down and wrapped her robe about her and escaped.
Celegorm and Curufin were hunting wolves in the woods with their wolf-hounds, the chief of which was Huan. Huan found Lúthien flying through the woods and he brought her before Celegorm. Upon learning that he was a prince of the Noldor, she revealed herself to him and he fell in love with her. He promised her that he would help her to find Beren if she would only come with him to Nargothrond. When they arrived there, Lúthien was held captive and not allowed to leave the gates of the city. With King Finrod gone with Beren, Celegorm and Curufin hoped to allow him to perish so that they could claim lordship of the city. Then they would force Thingol to allow Lúthien and Celegorm to wed.
Huan, though, was true of heart and he sought to free Lúthien for he loved her and he wanted to help her to find Beren. He devised a plan, brought her her cloak, and led her through secret ways out of Nargothrond. He allowed her to ride atop him as if her were a horse and they made their way toward Sauron’s lair.
Finrod and Beren lay still in the pit and all of their companions were now dead. Sauron had perceived that Finrod was one of the Noldor so he desired to leave him to the last. When the wolf came for Beren though, the king stood and he fought with the wolf. He killed the beast with his hands and teeth but he was also wounded to the death. The beloved king of the Noldor died and in doing so he redeemed his oath. Beren lay in despair.
It was in that time that Lúthien arrived and she stood upon the bridge and sang a song that no walls could hinder. Beren heard it and he sang a song of his own. Lúthien heard his voice and she sang another song, more powerful and Sauron heard it. He began to send his werewolves one by one to capture her, but Huan slew each one in turn. Finally Sauron sent the lord and sire of all of the wolves of Angband, Draugluin, down to them and the fight between him and Huan was long and fierce. Finally Draugluin fled to the throne of Sauron, and there he died of his wounds.
Sauron was angry and he thought to slay Huan himself. So he wrought himself a guise of the strongest and mightiest of all werewolves and he went to the bridge. Huan was afraid and he leapt aside. Sauron sprang upon Lúthien and she swooned out of fear, but as she did she waved her robe across his face and he stumbled, for he felt a drowsiness come over him. Huan took that moment to strike and he fought with Wolf-Sauron until he had him by the throat. Sauron changed shape many times but none of his guises could escape the jaws of Huan. Lúthien came before them and forced Sauron to either give up the tower to her or to be stripped and cast before Morgoth.
Sauron yielded to the power of Lúthien and fled, but she tore down the walls of the tower and she found Beren and Finrod in the deep pit. They buried Finrod and released many Elves who had been imprisoned inside the tower. These Elves returned to Nargothrond and they cursed the sons of Fëanor for the maiden had dared to do what they had not. Celegorm and Curufin fled and Huan left with them for he was faithful and had returned to his master. They made there way toward the lands of Doriath where they hoped to find their brother Maedhros.
Beren and Lúthien also made their way toward Doriath for Beren wanted to return Lúthien there and then set out once again upon his quest. Suddenly Celegorm and Curufin saw them and Celegorm turned his horse and rode directly at Beren desiring to run him down. Curufin rode for Lúthien and he swept her up. Before Celegorm could hit Beren, the man leapt toward Curufin and knock him from his horse. Lúthien fell to the grass. Beren throttled Curufin but Celegorm came up behind him with his spear. At that time Huan forsook the service of Celegorm and he turned on the elf and his horse feared to come near.
Celegorm cursed them. Lúthien asked that Curufin’s life be spared and Beren did as she asked but he took the Elf’s sword, Angrist, and took also his horse to serve Lúthien. Celegorm took Curufin upon his own horse and they made to ride away, but Curufin was filled with shame and he took Celegorm’s bow and he shot an arrow aimed at Lúthien, but Huan leapt and caught it between his teeth. Curufin shot again and this time Beren jumped before Lúthien to save her and the arrow smote him on his breast.
Huan chased the brothers and when he returned he brought to Lúthien a herb of the forest. She used it and her love of him, to heal Beren of his wound. They returned to Doriath and one morning while Lúthien slept he left her to complete his task. He asked Huan to watch over her and to protect her.
Beren left and made for Thangorodrim but Lúthien and Huan followed him disguised as Draugluin the lord of Sauron’s werewolves and Thuringwethil the messenger of Sauron. They came upon Beren and though he was happy to see Lúthien he was not wholly willing to allow her to accompany him. After a time he relented and he then took on the guise of Draugluin and he became as a werewolf.
In those disguises they came at last before the Gate of Angband. Morgoth sent out his most terrible wolf, Carcharoth the ‘Red Maw’, also known as Anfauglir the ‘Jaws of Thirst’. He came before Lúthien and Beren and she felt overcome by a sudden power and she laid the great wolf to sleep. They came then before the throne of Morgoth and Lúthien was stripped of her guise and she stood before Morgoth and offered to be his minstrel. Beren was slinking about the darkness of the room.
Morgoth delighted in watching her and so he allowed her to sing her song. She disappeared from his sight and her song was of such surpassing loveliness that blindness came upon him. All of his court including Beren were cast down into slumber. Lúthien rose up and her robe passed before Morgoth’s face and he fell from his throne into a deep sleep. When he fell, his crown bearing the Silmarils fell to the ground. Lúthien woke Beren and he took Angrist and with it he pried a Silmaril from the great crown. He took the jewel and it hurt him not. It came to him that he should try to take all three of the Silmarils but when he tried to pry out the second, his sword broke and a piece of it smote Morgoth in the cheek.
Morgoth and all of his court began to wake so Beren and Lúthien fled. When they came to the gates Carcharoth awaited them. Beren thrust the Silmaril into the face of the wolf and the beast suddenly lusted for it. He lunged forth and he tore off the hand of Beren which held the precious jewel. As soon as he did, the innards of the wolf were aflame and his flesh was seared. He fled as a madness overtook him and he slew all that came in his path. Of all the terrors that came to Beleriand before the fall of Angband, the madness of Carcharoth was the most terrible.
Beren lay near death because there was venom on the teeth of the wolf. Lúthien tried to draw forth the poison but all of the emissaries of Morgoth were awakening and she was weary. They did not know it, but Huan had asked all of the birds and beasts to watch out for them and now a great many birds flew overhead. The eagles came down and they carried Beren and Lúthien away and finally laid them upon the borders of Doriath. Huan came to them and he and Lúthien tried to heal the wounds of Beren and after long days, somehow he awoke.
From then on Beren was known as Erchamion, the ‘One-handed’ and suffering was always upon his face. He and Lúthien wandered through the woods for a time but Beren was distraught at having not fulfilled his oath and he did not wish to keep Lúthien in secret. They decided to return to Menegroth and face there the king.
Thingol was not happy to see that Beren was alive for he had heard that he had perished, and he was angry about the peril the man had brought upon his people. Carcharoth had wandered in his madness even into the woods of Doriath and had slain many of their people who were searching for Lúthien.
Beren and Lúthien came before the king and Beren knelt down before him and said, ‘I return according to my word. I am come now to claim my own.’ Thingol asked to see the Silmaril and Beren held out the arm from which Carcharoth had taken his hand. Beren then called himself Camlost, the ‘Empty-handed’ and Thingol’s heart was softened. Beren and Lúthien came and sat beside the king and they told to him their full tale. The king at last yielded his will and Beren took the hand of Lúthien before the throne of her father.
Carcharoth came ever nearer to Menegroth so preparations began for the Hunting of the Wolf. Beren Erchamion went on that chase. Also with him went Huan the Hound of Valinor, Mablung of the Heavy Hand, Beleg Strongbow, and Thingol King of Doriath. Lúthien remained behind and a dark shadow fell upon her heart.
The hunters came upon the great wolf and he sprang upon the king. Beren strode before him with his spear but Carcharoth swept it aside and he felled Beren, biting at his breast. Huan then leapt from the woods and he fought with the evil beast to the death, killing him at last. But Huan was also mortally wounded and he came beside Beren and he died.
Mablung and Beleg came upon the king and when they saw him kneeling before a badly wounded Beren, they wept. Mablung took his knife and he slit the belly of Carcharoth. From within his melted insides he removed the unspoiled hand of Beren which still clutched the Silmaril. He laid the jewel in the living hand of Beren and the man awoke and said, ‘Now is the Quest achieved and my doom full wrought.’ Beren did not speak again.
They bore back Beren Camlost son of Barahir to Menegroth and there Lúthien wrapped her arms around him, kissed him, and begged him to await her beyond the Western Sea. Beren’s spirit left his body and Lúthien’s light faded. Her spirit faded into darkness and at last it fled her body and she came to the halls of Mandos.
Lúthien sang a song as she knelt before Mandos, and her beauty and sorrow were so great in that song that it is still sung today and the Valar grieve when they hear it. The song of Lúthien had two themes: the sorrow of the Eldar and the grief of Men, and as she sung it she wept and her tears fell upon Mandos’ feet. He was moved to pity, he who had never before been so moved or was ever again. Therefore he summoned Beren to him, and so he and Lúthien met as she had said they would, beyond the Western Sea.
Mandos sought the counsel of Manwë who governed the world under the hand of Ilúvatar. He told to Lúthien her two choices: either to remain in Valimar where she could dwell until the world’s end or to return to Middle-earth with Beren where she would become mortal and be subject to a second death and her beauty would become only a memory in song.
Lúthien chose the second choice and so she has forsaken the Blessed Realm and her fate and the fate of Beren are joined. They returned to Middle-earth and they dwelt on the isle of Tol Galen in the midst of the river Adurant. The Eldar afterward called that country Dor Firn-I-Guinar, ‘The Land of the Dead that Live’. There was born their son, Dior Eluchíl, that is Thingol’s Heir and no mortal man spoke ever to Beren again.
After the ruin of Doriath, Thingol was killed and Melian fled. She sent word to Beren and Lúthien about the Dwarves who had come and pillaged all of Doriath’s treasures, including the Nauglamir which held the Silmaril that Beren had obtained from Morgoth himself. Beren left Tol Galen and he summoned Dior his son. Together with the Green-elves they assailed the Dwarves as they came over the banks of Gelion. They killed many and the Shepherds of the Trees came forth and they drove the Dwarves into the woods of Ered Lindon.
In that battle, Beren fought his last fight. He killed the lord of the dwarves and took from him the Nauglamir. He brought it back to Lúthien but she was not eased of the grief of her fathers slaying. For a time though her lands were beautiful for while she wore the Nauglamir she was the most beautiful and most glorious thing outside of the Blessed Realm.
Dior returned to Doriath as its lord and he set himself to raise anew the glory of the kingdom of Doriath. There came a day when a lord of the Green-elves came to the doors of Menegroth and demanded to see the king. He gave to Dior a coffer and inside of it there lay the Nauglamir. Dior took that for a sign that Beren and Lúthien had finally died indeed, and they had gone where go the race of Men to a fate beyond the world.
Research by Nienna-of-the-Valar
Information compiled from The Silmarillion