- Glorfindel of Gondolin, lived in the First Age
- Glorfindel of Rivendell, appears in The Lord of the Rings
Are they the same?
It is possible, and indeed frequently argued, that Glorfindel of Rivendell was the reincarnation of Glorfindel of Gondolin. If that is the case, then he is the only known reincarnated Elf to have returned from Aman to Middle-earth. This is consistent with Glorfindel's powers against the Ringwraiths, as well as with the statement that he is an Elf-lord (Glorfindel of Gondolin was known as the Chief of the House of the Golden Flower). Tolkien himself stated this possibility to be true in an essay written late in life (found in The Peoples of Middle-earth):
- "An Elf who had. . . fought in the long wars against Melkor would be an eminently suitable companion for Gandalf. We could then reasonably suppose that Glorfindel. . . landed with Gandalf-Olórin about Third Age 1000. This supposition would indeed explain the air of special power and sanctity that surrounds Glorfindel - not how the Witch-king flies from him, although all others. . . however brave could not induce their horses to face him. . . [A long discussion of reincarnation follows here] . . . At any rate what at first sight may seem the simplest solution must be abandoned; sc. that we have merely a reduplication of names, and that Glorfindel of Gondolin and Glorfindel of Rivendell were different persons. This repetition of so striking a name, though possible, would not be credible. . . [A telling of Glorfindel's tale follows here] . . . We may then suppose that Glorfindel returned during the Second Age, before the 'shadow' fell on Númenor. . ."
- ― The Peoples of Middle-earth, Last Writings, "Glorfindel"
However, it is a matter of dispute whether he believed this at the time he wrote The Lord of the Rings. At that point he frequently used names from his unpublished Silmarillion for characters and locations in the newer work, without implying that they were the same (as in The Hobbit for "Elrond" and "Gondolin"). However, in The Return of the Shadow, a rejected draft states that "Glorfindel tells of his ancestry in Gondolin", suggesting to some that he might have toyed with making him the same Elf (at the very least and at any rate, he considered making him an Elf of Gondolin).
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