Eärendil the Mariner
Race: Men / Half-Elven
Lands: Gondolin, lands near the mouths of Sirion, the oceans of heaven
Eärendil Halfelven was born to Tuor and Idril Celebrindal in the Hidden City of Gondolin. In fair Eärendil was combined the blood of all three of the Houses of the Edain and that of the Elves through Idril who was a descendant of Fingolfin the son of Indis of the Vanyar. Eärendil was of surpassing beauty and a “light was in his face as the light of heaven, and he had the beauty and the wisdom of the Eldar and the strength and hardihood of the Men of old.”
After the Fall of Gondolin, Tuor and Idril fled with Eärendil to the mouths of Sirion. There they were joined with the people of Elwing daughter of Dior, who had also fled there a time before. Morgoth took little account of them though there and by the sea there grew up an Elvenfolk from the remnants of Gondolin and Doriath. The mariners of Círdan of the Bay of Balar came amongst them and these folk learned to build ships and to sail under the shadows of Ulmo’s hand.
After Tuor and Idril sailed into the West and were lost, Eärendil became the lord of his people and he took to wife Elwing the fair. After a time, she bore to him two sons named Elrond and Elros.
Eärendil became quick friends with Círdan the Shipwright for he shared his father’s love of the sea. Círdan helped Eärendil to build his ship: Vingilot the Foamflower, called by Men Rothinzil. Its oars were golden and its timbers were white for they were made of the birchwoods of Nimbrethil. Its sails were as the moon. Eärendil made many voyages in that ship which earned him the name of mariner. On these voyages, Elwing did not go and she became sad.
Maedhros son of Fëanor learned that Elwing still lived, and that she was in possession of the Nauglamir which still held the Silmaril that was stolen from the crown of Morgoth by Beren and Lúthien. He was for a time appeased and he repented for the deeds of him and his brothers in Doriath, for they had murdered Dior and his wife for the Silmaril. But soon the oath that the sons of Fëanor had taken began to eat away at him and he sent word to Sirion that they should surrender the jewel. Eärendil was away so Elwing refused, for she believed that her possession of it kept him safe on the seas.
The sons of Fëanor were enraged and they came down upon them suddenly and destroyed the remnant of the exiles of Gondolin and Doriath. Though only Maglor and Maedhros remained of the brothers who had pledged that terrible oath, they had won the day. Elrond and Elros were taken captive and Elwing had cast herself into the sea with the Silmaril in hand.
Ulmo found the mother of Elrond and Elros and he “bore up Elwing out of the waves, and he gave her the likeness of a great white bird, and upon her breast there shone as a star the Silmaril, as she flew over the water to seek Eärendil her beloved.” One night as Eärendil was sailing, he saw the white bird coming toward him and he watched as it fell upon the deck of his ship. He held it in his arms and in the morning she was returned to her true shape and he recognized her as his wife.
Elwing told Eärendil the story of the assault of Maedhros and Maglor. They were sad for the deaths of their people and the capture of their sons, fearing they would be killed. But they knew not that “Maglor took pity on Elros and Elrond, and he cherished them, and love grew between them, as little might be thought; but Maglor’s heart was sick and weary with the burden of the dreadful oath.”
Eärendil made the decision that he would sail then to Aman and beg for the aid of the Valar so that they might help the Children of Ilúvatar. With him he took Elwing and his three most faithful companions: Falathar, Erellont, and Aerandir. The wise say that it was through the power of the Silmaril that they were somehow able to make their way into waters that no vessel save those of the Teleri had known. At last Eärendil, “First of living Men, landed on the immortal shores.” He asked his companions and Elwing to remain because he said none should walk on the forbidden shores save himself for, “…that peril I will take on myself alone, for the sake of the Two Kindreds.” But, Elwing would not suffer her love to bear that burden alone and she said, “Then would our paths be sundered for ever; but all thy perils I will take on myself also.” Elwing then jumped into the water and ran to Eärendil upon the shores of Aman. They said goodbye to their companions and turned away from them forever.
Eärendil bid Elwing wait for him near the sea for the message was his alone to bring to the Valar. When he had gone, she became afraid and she wandered near to Alqualondë, where the Telerin fleets lay. There the Teleri became her friends and they listened to her tales and they were filled with pity and wonder at the grief that they had endured.
While Elwing spoke with the Telerin Elves, Eärendil walked across the lands of the Valar. He came into the Calacirya and found it empty, for he had come at a time of festival and most of the Elves were in Valimar or in Taniquetil. He continued to walk and saw no one and he feared that some evil had come down upon the Blessed Realm. “He walked in the deserted ways of Tirion, and the dust upon his raiment and his shoes was a dust of diamonds, and he shone and glistened as he climbed the long white stairs.” He called aloud in many tongues but no one answered.
Eärendil finally turned at last to leave when he heard a voice calling to him from a hilltop, “Hail Eärendil, of mariners most renowned, the looked for that cometh at unawares, that longed for that cometh beyond hope! Hail Eärendil, bearer of light before the Sun and Moon! Splendour of the Children of Earth, star in the darkness, jewel in the sunset, radiant in the morning!” The voice was that of Eönwë, herald of Manwë, and he summoned Eärendil to Valinor.
Eärendil went with Eönwë to Valinor and into the halls of Valimar and he never again set foot upon the lands of Men. He stood before the Valar and “pardon he asked for the Noldor and pity for their great sorrows, and mercy upon Men and Elves and succour in their need. And his prayer was granted.” But Manwë judged that because Eärendil and Elwing had set foot on the lands of Aman, they could not ever walk again amongst Men and Elves in the Outer Lands. He set forth this decree: “to Eärendil and Elwing, and to their sons, shall be given leave each to choose freely to which kindred their fates shall be joined, and under which kindred they shall be judged.”
Eärendil made his way to Alqualondë and there he found Elwing and brought her back to Valimar. When they stood together in the halls of the Valar, Manwë’s decree was told to them. Eärendil told Elwing to choose and when she chose to be counted among the Firstborn, he chose alike for her sake.
Then Eönwë went to the companions of Eärendil and Elwing who awaited them on the shores of Aman and he gave to them a ship. Once they were inside, the Valar caused a great wind to blow and they were sent sailing to the east. Then Vingilot was taken and hallowed by the Valar; they bore it away through Valinor to the uttermost rim of the world. There it passed through the Door of Night and was lifted into the oceans of heaven. “Fair and marvelous was that vessel made, and it was filled with a wavering flame, pure and bright; and Eärendil the Mariner sat at the helm, glistening with dust of elvengems, and the Silmaril was bound upon his brow. Far he journeyed in that ship, even into the starless voids; but most often was he seen at morning or at evening, glimmering in sunrise or sunset, as he came back to Valinor from voyages beyond the confines of the world.”
On Eärendil’s journeys, Elwing did not go for she could not suffer the cold and the pathless voids. She loved the earth and the winds that blow on sea and hill. A great white tower was built for her on the northern borders of the Sundering Seas and there many sea birds would come to be replenished. She learned the tongues of birds, for she had once worn their shape, and they taught her how to fly, and her wings were of white and silver-grey. At times, when Eärendil would return, Elwing would fly out to greet him even as she had that day as she was borne up out of the sea by Ulmo.
The first time that Vingilot made its voyage across the sky, the people of Middle-earth took it for a sign. They named it Gil-Estel, the ‘Star of High Hope’, and they despaired no longer. But Morgoth saw it and he was filled with doubt.
The host of the Valar prepared for battle and with them marched the Vanyar, the people of Ingwë, and those of the Noldor who had remained in Aman led by Finarfin son of Finwë. Many of the Teleri were unwilling to go to war, for they still remembered the Kinslaying, but they hearkened to Elwing, who was of their own kindred, and sent ships bearing those willing to fight. These ships were anchored off land and the Teleri remained there and never stood on the Hither Lands.
So began the War of Wrath. During this war, the Balrogs were destroyed save a few who fled and hid in inaccessible caverns. Those few who were left of the Three Houses of the Edain fought alongside the Valar and they were avenged. But, a great part of the sons of Men (the people of Uldor who had betrayed Maedhros during the Nirnaeth Arnoediad and some new Easterlings) marched with the Enemy and the Elves do not forget it.
Morgoth was afraid and he hid and would not come forth. He sent out his dragon-host. But suddenly Eärendil came forth and about Vingilot were all the great birds of heaven and Thorondor was their captain. Eärendil slew Ancalagon the Black, the mightiest of the dragon-host, and he fell on the towers of Thangorodrim and they were broken. The sun rose and the Valar prevailed. Nearly all of the dragons were slain and all of the pits of Morgoth were unroofed and the Valar descended into the deeps of the earth.
There the Valar found Morgoth and he still stood, though unvaliantly. Then “he sued for peace and pardon; but his feet were hewn from under him, and he was hurled upon his face. Then he was bound with the chain of Angainor which he had worn aforetime, and his iron crown they beat into a collar for his neck, and his head was bowed upon his knees. And the two Silmarils which remained to Morgoth were taken from his crown, and they shone unsullied beneath the sky; and Eönwë took them, and guarded them.”
During the War of Wrath, the northern regions of the western world were rent asunder and the valleys were upheaved and the hills trod down and the world was changed. Eönwë then summoned the Elves of Beleriand to depart from Middle-earth and some had decided to go. But, Maglor and Maedhros thought still of their oath and they sent word to Eönwë that he should return to them the Silmarils. The herald of Manwë would do not such thing for though the jewels had been made by their father, because of the terrible and merciless deeds that were done because of their oath they had lost all rights to them.
Hearing these words, Maglor wished to repent and break the oath, but Maedhros would not. Maglor finally gave in and the brothers came upon the guards of the Silmarils in the night and they slew them, each taking a jewel for their own. But since their rights to the jewels had indeed become void, the jewels would not suffer the brothers to touch them. The jewel burned the hand of Maedhros with unbearable pain, and being in anguish and utter despair, he cast himself into a gaping chasm filled with fire. The Silmaril that he bore was taken into the bosom of the Earth. Maglor also could not endure the pain of the jewel that he had claimed so he cast it into the Sea and he then wandered upon the shores singing in pain and regret against the waves. So “it came to pass that the Silmarils found their long homes: one in the airs of heaven, and one if the fires of the heart of the world, and one in the deep waters.”
The Elves who left Beleriand after the war came at last to Tol Eressëa, the ‘Lonely Isle’. Some, of course, remained in Middle-earth. Among those were Círdan the Shipwright, Celeborn, Galadriel (the last of those who led the Noldor to exile), Gil-galad (now the High King of the Noldor), and Elrond Half-elven who chose to be numbered among the Eldar.
Elros, the brother of Elrond, chose to abide with Men. To him and the fathers of men of the three faithful houses, rich reward was given. Eönwë came among them and taught them and they were given wisdom and power and life enduring. A land was made for them to dwell in; neither part of Middle-earth nor Valinor, but it lay closer to Valinor. The land was raised by Ossë out of the Great water and it was established by Aulë and enriched by Yavanna and the Eldar brought there flowers and fountains out of Tol Eressëa. The land was called by the Valar: Andor the ‘Land of Gift’. By Men it was called: Elenna ‘Starwards’, Anadûnê ‘Westernesse’, and Númenórë in Quenya. To read the continuation of the tales of the Edain and the Númenóreans, please read the soon-to-be published article entitled The History of Númenor.
Mortal Descent of Eärendil:
Hador Lórindol (Third House of the Edain ‘House of Hador’)
Galdor son of Hador wed Hareth daughter of Halmir Second House of the Edain ‘People of Haleth’
Huor son of Galdor wed Rían daughter of Belegund (First House of the Edain ‘House of Bëor’)
Tuor son of Huor
Eärendil the Mariner
Immortal Descent of Eärendil
Finwë (First King of the Noldor in Aman) wed Indis (of the Vanyar)
Fingolfin son of Finwë (High King of the Noldor in Beleriand)
Turgon son of Fingolfin (King of Gondolin)
Idril Celebrindal daughter of Turgon wed Tuor son of Huor (Descended from the Three Houses of the Edain)
Eärendil the Mariner
Research by Nienna-of-the-Valar
Information compiled from The Silmarillion