Eöl, The Dark Elf
Originally from Doriath, Eöl lived in the Nan Elmoth forest. He moved away from Doriath when the Girdle of Melian was swept down over the realm, protecting the elves inside. Eöl became known as the “Dark Elf” – and he preferred stars and darkness to sunlight, and friendship of Dwarves to that of the Noldor. He shunned those of the Noldor, holding them to blame for the return of Morgoth, shattering the peace of Beleriand.
“a tall Elf of a high kin of the Teleri, noble though grim of face: and his eyes could see deep into shadows and dark places.”(Silmarillion)
He was very skilled in smithing, and spent much time with the Dwarves. He invented a new kind of metal called galvorn, which was excellent for armour, and he also made two great swords from meteoritic iron, Anglachel and Anguirel.
Note: in Tolkien’s original versions of the story of Eöl, he learnt his smithying skill from Thangorodrim. When the Girdle of Melian was set around Doriath, Eöl decided to leave the Forest of Region, but he was captured by Orcs and taken to Thangorodrim. Due to his skills, he received some favour, and was freer than most slaves to move about. Eventually he escaped and sought refuge in Nan Elmoth. Whether Morgoth knew about Eöl’s escape, and allowed it to happen to stir up further discord among the Elves, is not specified. From: The War of the Jewels, p. 321
Eöl later married Aredhel, the white lady of Gondolin. One day while travelling, she became lost in his forest, and when Eöl saw her, he desired her. He then used enchantments to draw her towards his dwelling. He took her to wife, and she bore him the son Maeglin, also called Lómion.
“And it came to pass that he saw Aredhel of Ar-Feiniel as she strayed among the tall trees near the borders of Nan Elmoth, a gleam of white in the dim land. Very fair she seemed to him, and he desired her; and he set his enchantments about her so that she could not find the ways out, but drew ever nearer to the dwelling … And there she remained; for Eöl took her to wife. … It is not said that Aredhel was wholly unwilling, nor that her life in Nan Elmoth was hateful to her for many years. … Eöl forbade her to seek the sons of Fëanor, or any others of the Noldor.”
Note: Earlier versions of the story say that Aredhel was taken forcibly to wife. From: The War of the Jewels
Aredhel managed to tell her son old stories of her kin, and Maeglin began to desire to find his relatives. He declared his wish to his father, who became angry.
“You are of the house of Eöl, Maeglin, my son … and not of the Golodhrim. In this you shall obey me, or I will set you in bonds.”
One day when Maeglin was older, and Eöl was away, Aredhel and her son fled from Nan Elmoth to Turgon, Aredhel’s brother in Gondolin. Eöl found out and pursued them, first to Himlad where he was summoned before Curufin.
”Curufin looked darkly on Eöl. ‘Do not flaunt the title of your wife before me … For those who steal the daughters of the Noldor and wed them without gift or leave do not gain kinship with their kin. …By the laws of the Eldar I may not slay you at this time. And this counsel I add: return now to your dwelling in the darkness of Nan Elmoth; for my heart warns me that if you now pursue those who love you no more, never will you return thither.’ Then Eöl rode off in haste, and he was filled with hatred of all the Noldor.”
Eöl then found his way to Gondolin, where he knew Maeglin and Aredhel had gone. He was taken before Turgon, where he was offered the choice of either staying and living well in Gondolin (but never again to leave the city), or death.
”Then Eöl looked into the eyes of King Turgon, and he was not daunted, but stood long without word or movement while a still silence fell upon the hall; and Aredhel was afraid, knowing that he was perilous. Suddenly, swift as serpent, he seized a javelin that he held hid beneath his cloak and cast it at Maeglin, crying ‘The second choice I take and for my son also! You shall not hold what is mine!’ But Aredhel sprang before the dart, and it smote her in the shoulder; and Eöl was overborne by many and set in bonds.
Aredhel died that night, for the tip of the javelin had been poisoned. Turgon sentenced Eöl to death, and he was led to the Caragdûr – a precipice of black rock on the north side of the Hill of Gondolin.
Note: left out of the Silmarillion was a note added to the original manuscript: “For the Eldar never used any poison, not even against their most cruel enemies, beast, ork, or man; and they were filled with shame and horror that Eöl should have meditated this evil deed.” From: The War of the Jewels
Maeglin stood by and said nothing; but at the last Eöl cried out: ‘So you forsake your father and his kin, ill-gotten son! Here shall you fail of all your hopes, and here may you yet die the same death as I.’ Then they cast Eöl over the Caragdûr, and so he ended, and to all in Gondolin it seemed just”
References: Silmarillion, The War of the Jewels