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Eärendil

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The name Eärendil refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Eärendil (disambiguation).
Eärendil
Half-elf
Jenny Dolfen - Earendil the Mariner.jpg
"Earendil the Mariner" by Jenny Dolfen
Biographical Information
PronunciationQ, [ˌe.aˈrendil]
Other namesGaerdil (S)
Ardamírë (Q mn)
Azrubêl (A)
The Mariner, The Blessed, Bright, Halfelven
LocationGondolin, Havens of Sirion
BirthF.A. 503
Gondolin
Family
HouseHouse of Hador
HeritageMan father, Elf mother
ParentageTuor and Idril
SpouseElwing
ChildrenElros and Elrond
Physical Description
GenderMale
SteedVingilótë (ship)
GalleryImages of Eärendil
"Eärendil was a mariner
that tarried in Arvernien
he built a boat of timber felled
in Nimbrethil to journey in...
"
Song of Eärendil by Bilbo Baggins

Eärendil the Mariner was one of the Half-elven, and an important figure in the legends of the Elder Days. Descended from all Three Houses of the Edain, he was the first known person to reach Aman in the First Age after the Noldor went into exile. He was crucial in the War of Wrath and the patriarch of the line of the Kings of Númenor through his son Elros.

Contents

[edit] History

Travelling South by Šárka Škorpíková

The son of Tuor and Idril, daughter of King Turgon, Eärendil was raised as a child in Gondolin. Eärendil was seven years old when Gondolin fell, and narrowly escaped death at the hands of his kinsman Maeglin during the battle. He was borne out on the shoulders of Idril's house-carle Hendor. As they rested in Nan-tathren, the waters of Ulmo awoke the sea-longing in both father and son.[1]

He lived afterwards in Arvernien by the Havens of Sirion. Eärendil later became the leader of the people who lived there, and married Elwing, daughter of Dior, the son of Beren and Lúthien. They had two sons, Elrond and Elros.

With the aid of Círdan the Shipwright, Eärendil built a ship, Vingilótë (or Vingilot), and sailed around the seas west of Middle-earth, leaving his wife behind in Arvernien. At this time Elwing had in her possession the Silmaril that Beren had wrested from Morgoth. News of this came to the remaining sons of Fëanor, and they attacked the people living in Arvernien, killing most of them. But Elwing, rather than be captured, threw herself and the Silmaril into the sea. The Silmaril was not lost, however:

Eärendil and Elwing by Steamey
For Ulmo 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. On a time of night Eärendil at the helm of his ship saw her come towards him, as a white cloud exceeding swift beneath the moon, as a star over the sea moving in strange courses, a pale flame on wings of storm. And it is sung that she fell from the air upon the timbers of Vingilot, in a swoon, nigh unto death for the urgency of her speed, and Eärendil took her to his bosom; but in the morning with marveling eyes he beheld his wife in her own form beside him with her hair upon his face, and she slept.
Quenta Silmarillion, "Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"

Hearing of the tragedy that had befallen in Arvernien, Eärendil then sought after Valinor, and he and Elwing found their way there at last. Eärendil thus became the first of all mortals to set foot in Valinor. Eärendil then went before the Valar, and asked them to aid the Men and Elves in Middle-earth and fight against Morgoth; and the Valar accepted his plea.

Because Eärendil had undertaken this errand on behalf of Men and Elves, and not for his own sake, Manwë forbore to deal out the punishment of death that was due. Because both Eärendil and Elwing were descended from a union of Elves and Men, Manwë granted to them and their sons the gift to choose to which race they would be joined (a gift that was further passed to the children of Elrond, who became known as the Half-elven). Elwing chose to be one of the Elves. Eärendil would have rather been one of the Men; however, for the sake of his wife, he chose to be one of the Elves.

But when all was spoken, Manwë gave judgement, and he said: 'In this matter the power of doom is given to me. The peril that he ventured for love of the Two Kindreds shall not fall upon Eärendil, nor shall it fall upon Elwing his wife, who entered into peril for love of him; but they shall not walk again ever among Elves or Men in the Outer Lands. And this is my decree concerning them: to Eärendil and to 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.'
Quenta Silmarillion, "Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
Eärendil and the Battle of Eagles and Dragons by Ted Nasmith

The Valar, having listened to Eärendil's plea, went with a mighty host to Middle-earth and overthrew Morgoth, binding him with a chain forged by the smith Aulë. Eärendil took part in the battle. His ship Vingilótë was blessed by the Valar, filled with a shining white flame, and sent to the skies. He sailed at its helm with the Silmaril bound upon his brow. Alongside Thorondor and the Eagles, he slew the great dragon Ancalagon the Black and cast his body down onto Thangorodrim, the event which, along with the sheer devastation caused by the War of Wrath, led to the Ruin of Beleriand.

[edit] Legacy

See also: Star of Eärendil
The Star of Earendil by Matěj Čadil

Eärendil lived in Valinor, and the gleaming of the Silmaril upon his brow could still be seen in the skies of the distant West as the bright Evening Star.[2] Those who remained in Middle-earth called it Gil-Estel (S. "Star of High Hope").

In the Second Age, the descendants of the Edain followed the Star of Eärendil to reach Elenna. When Númenor fell under the Shadow, Tar-Atanamir mentioned Eärendil's fate to argue about immortality to the Messengers of the Valar. The Messengers responded that his was a fate apart as a Half-elven, and he was bound to the sky, unable to return, whereas the Númenóreans demanded the liberties of both Elves and Men.[3]

Bilbo Baggins wrote the Song of Eärendil[4] and the legend of Eärendil also inspired the poem Errantry.[5]

[edit] Etymology

Eärendil was his given father-name. Eärendil is a Quenya name, meaning "Devoted to the Sea", literally "Sea lover".[6][7] It is a compound of eär and -ndil).[8][9]

Tolkien used the original Old English name Eärendel for all drafts previous to The Lord of the Rings, and first he related it with the Elvish words ea ("eagle") and earen ("eyre"), but the exact meaning of the name remained unclear within the Legendarium until he remade the name into Quenya to Earendil.[10]

[edit] Other names

The Sindarin cognate for Eärendil was Gaerdil, with variations like Gaerdilion and Gaerennil.[11] There are also experimental Sindarized forms, such as Aerendil and Aerennel,[12] as well as a direct translation: Seron Aearon.[13]

His mother-name was Ardamírë, a prophetic name, as it means "Jewel of the World", from arda ("world") + mírë ("jewel"). Its Sindarin version was Mír n'Ardhon.[13]

Eärendil was translated as Azrubêl in Adûnaic, from azar ("sea") and the stem bel-.[14]

Eärendil was known by many epithets: Half-elven,[15] the Blessed,[16] Bright,[2][3] and the Mariner.[2][17]

[edit] Genealogy

Marach
House of Hador
 
Haldad
House of Haleth
 
Bëor
House of Bëor
 
Finwë
Noldor
 
Indis
Vanyar
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Huor
F.A. 444 - 472
 
 
 
Rían
F.A. 450 - 472
 
 
 
Turgon
Y.T. 1300 - F.A. 510
 
Elenwë
d. Y.T. 1500
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tuor
b. F.A. 472
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Idril
b. Y.T.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
EÄRENDIL
b. F.A. 503
 
Elwing
b. F.A. 503
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Elros
F.A. 532 - S.A. 442
 
Elrond
b. F.A. 532
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kings of Númenor
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lords of Andúnië
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kings of Arnor & Kings of Gondor
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Chieftains of the Dúnedain
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Aragorn
T.A. 2931 - Fo.A. 120
 
Arwen
T.A. 241 - Fo.A. 121
 
 
 
 
 
 

[edit] Other versions of the legendarium

[edit] Early poems

Before conceiving any story for his mythology, Tolkien wrote some poems that dealt with Eärendel. The earliest was Éalá Éarendel Engla Beorhtast, which would set the foundations for The Book of Lost Tales as Tolkien "tried to find out" what it was about.[18] The other poems were The Bidding of the Minstrel, The Shores of Faëry and The Happy Mariners, all written between 1914-1915.[19]:267-273 The four poems tell in a lyric way about the coming of Eärendel to Valinor, the rising of his boat as the morning star and his everlasting travel in the edge of the world.

The Bidding of the Minstrel is associated with a noted page, which outlines the travels of Eärendel to the North, visiting Island, Iceland, magic lands and seeing Kôr from afar; then he goes South, travelling through the Mediterranean or Atlantic sea, full of strange creatures. Then he travels to the western lip of the world and sails upon the sky, never coming back. The Shores of Faëry has a short preface in prose, which, as in the former text, conceives Eärendel as an old man when travelling to the firmament.[19]:261-262

[edit] The Book of Lost Tales

Ecthelion and Earendil by Mysilvergreen

In the earliest narrative of the legendarium in The Book of Lost Tales, the birth of Eärendel is first prophesied of by Ulmo to Tuor: "...and of a surety a child shall come of thee than whom no man shall know more of the uttermost deeps, be it of the sea or of the firmament of heaven."[20]:155 Years later, the wishes of the Valar were fulfilled when Eärendel was born from Tuor and Idril in Gondolin:

Now this babe was of greatest beauty; his skin of a shining white and his eyes of a blue surpassing that of the sky in southern lands — bluer than the sapphires of the raiment of Manwë; and the envy of Meglin was deep at his birth, but the joy of Turgon and all the people very great indeed.[20]:165

Now Eärendel was still of tender years when the Fall of Gondolin began. The red lights of the enemy appeared in the walls of his room, which made him cry, as his nurse Meleth had told him dark stories about Melko. His mother Idril came and arrayed him with a tiny coat of mail, which cheered him up greatly.[20]:174 When the battle had just begun at the northern part of the city, Meglin and his folk of the Mole came to the house of Tuor and seized Idril. Tuor and his folk of the Wing appeared there when Meglin was dragging Idril and Eärendel to the walls, as he wished to cast out the child while the mother saw it. Seeing that Tuor was coming, Meglin tried to stab Eärendel, but the child bit his hand and the coat turned the blade aside. After killing Meglin, Tuor gave Idril some of his men and left to battle.[20]:177-178

During the siege of Gondolin, Idril remained in the doors of her house, till she could wait no longer, so she sent most of her bodyguard down her secret tunnel with Eärendel, while she stayed there.[20]:187 Later, when the Exiles of Gondolin came out of the city to the plain, Tuor saw a group of men being chased by wolf-riders: "Lo! there is Eärendel my son; behold, his face shineth as a star in the waste...". About Eärendel were some men of the Wing, and he was being carried by Hendor, a house-carle. By the order of Tuor, they stopped running and were saved from the Orcs. The child was happy of seeing his father, who took him upon his shoulders. Later, when reunited with his mother, Eärendel refused to be carried by her, as she was clearly tired, and asked for Salgant, who was a friend of them in Gondolin. But as when he asked for Ecthelion and Gondolin, his parents explained they were all fallen.[20]:190-191 After a year of wanderings, the Exiles settled down in the mouth of Sirion, and there Eärendel grew fair in the house of his father.[20]:196-197

Tolkien never finished the Tale of Eärendel, which is only given in dispersed outlines. It is practically impossible to summarise them in a coherent way.

[edit] Later versions

In the first sketch of the Silmarillion (1926) intended to "reboot" the legendarium, Eärendel slew Ungoliant.[21]

[edit] Inspiration

One of the two Heraldic Devices J.R.R. Tolkien designed for Eärendil

While Eärendil is a Quenya name inside the legendarium, Tolkien created the name based on Anglo-Saxon éarendel. He says that he was struck by the "great beauty" of the name as early as 1913, which he perceived as "entirely coherent with the normal style of A-S, but euphonic to a peculiar degree in that pleasing but not 'delectable' language."[22]

Tolkien was also aware of the name's Germanic cognates (Old Norse Aurvandill, Lombardic Auriwandalo), and the question why the Anglo-Saxon one rather than the Lombardic or Proto-Germanic form should be taken up in the mythology is alluded to in The Notion Club Papers.[23] The Old Norse together with the Anglo-Saxon evidence point to an astronomical myth, the name referring to a star, or a group of stars, and the Anglo-Saxon in particular points to the Morning Star as the herald of the rising Sun (in Crist christianized to refer to John the Baptist).

Tolkien was particularly inspired by the lines in Christ, which became the title of his first poem about Eärendel:

éala éarendel engla beorhtast / ofer middangeard monnum sended
"Hail Earendel, brightest of angels / sent over Middle-earth to men."

This first line is paralleled by Eönwë when Eärendil reaches Aman: "Hail Eärendil, of mariners most renowned, [...] Hail Eärendil, bearer of light before the Sun and Moon!".[2] It also inpires Frodo's exclamation in Shelob's Lair, "Aiya Eärendil elenion ancalima!",[24] which translates as "Hail Eärendil, brightest of stars!". Frodo's exclamation was in reference to the "Star-glass" he carried, which contained the light of Eärendil's star, the Silmaril he wore upon his brow.

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Many Meetings"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, "Preface"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 211, (dated 14 October 1958), answer to Question 4
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Note 18 to Letter 131, (undated, written late 1951)
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 297, (dated August 1967)
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names", entries eär, (n)dil
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Appendix: Names in the Lost Tales – Part I, p. 251, entry "Eärendel"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings: Eldarin Roots and Stems", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), pp. 19, 27
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XI. The Shibboleth of Fëanor": Note 52
  13. 13.0 13.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XI. The Shibboleth of Fëanor": The names of Finwë's descendants, p. 348
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XII. The Problem of Ros", p. 373
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin"
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of Men into the West"
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  18. Humphrey Carpenter, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, "III. 1917-1925: The making of a mythology", p. 71
  19. 19.0 19.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "V. The Tale of Eärendel"
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 20.6 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "III. The Fall of Gondolin"
  21. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "II. The Earliest 'Silmarillion' (The 'Sketch of the Mythology')"
  22. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 297, (dated August 1967), p. 385
  23. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, "Part Two: The Notion Club Papers"
  24. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Shelob's Lair"