Tolkien Gateway


"I shan't call it the end, till we've cleared up the mess." — Sam
This article or section needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of article quality.
Source of light
Lady Elleth - Tilion.png
"Tilion" by Lady Elleth
Other namesSee below
LocationIlmen in
Y.T. 1500
GalleryImages of the Moon
"The round Moon rolled behind the hill,
as the Sun raised up her head.
She hardly believed her fiery eyes;
For though it was day, to her surprise
they all went back to bed!
The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late

Ithil, the Moon, is a celestial object seen in the skies of Arda at night.


[edit] History

Moon by Darryl Elliott

After the Darkening of Valinor and the destruction of the Two Trees, Telperion, the White Tree, bore one last Flower of Silver before its end. According to the lore of the Elder Days, Aulë and his people made a vessel to carry to the silver flower aloft, and Tilion, one of the hunters of Oromë; was granted the task of steering the new Moon through the sky.[1]

Tilion guided his charge up into the western skies just as Fingolfin entered Middle-earth, and so marked the beginning the First Age. After seven lunar "days", Arien, the Sun also rose. The Moon first rose above Valinor in the far West of the World, but Varda came to change this arrangement, so that the Moon would pass beneath the World, and arise in the east instead, as it does to this day. [1]

According to the legends of the Elves, Tilion was an unsteady steersman, sometimes dwelling overlong beneath the Earth, or appearing in the sky at the same time as the Sun. He was drawn to the bright new Sun, launched from Valinor shortly after his own vessel,[1] and his coming too close to his fiery companion was said to account for the darkening of the Moon's face.

According to a tradition,[2][3] Melkor will discover how to break the Door of Night, and will destroy both the Sun and the Moon.

[edit] Lore of the Moon

[edit] Númenóreans

For the Númenóreans, the Sun and the Moon - Ûri and Nîlû, called collectively also Ûriyat ("two suns") or Ûrinîl(uw)at ("two sun-moon") - were personified entities, the Man in the Moon and the Lady in the Sun.[4] They were the chief heavenly lights, and the enemies of the eternal Dark.[5]

This notion was carried over to Gondor, where the sons of Elendil each had either of the lights in his name: Isildur and Anárion, and with them their cities Minas Anor and Minas Ithil, and the lands that lay about them, Ithilien and Anórien.[5]

[edit] Hobbits

New Moon by Gail McIntosh

When the Hobbits were still a wandering people, their calendaric unit was not a 'week' , but a 'month', governed more or less by the Moon. However, through contact with alien peoples (perhaps the Dúnedain of Arnor) they adopted the notion of weeks which formed the Shire Reckoning.[6]

In Hobbit folklore, the moon was imagined to be inhabited by the Man in the Moon.[7]

[edit] Dwarves

The Dwarves based their calendar on the Moon. The Dwarven year began with the first day of the last moon of Autumn on the threshold of Winter.[8] However it seems that by the late Third Age the Dwarves adopted the Stewards' Reckoning,[9] and few had the skill to calculate the Durin's Day.

[edit] Other names

[edit] Inspirations

[edit] Gender

A depiction of the Norse god Máni and the goddess Sól (Lorenz Frølich, 1895) who could be the inspirations of Tilion and Arien

The fact that the Moon in Tolkien's legendarium is connected to a male entity or person (like Tilion or the Man in the Moon), is obviously derived from the Germanic mythology of which Tolkien was an expert; for example the Old Norse Máni is a male lunar god and Sól is a female solar goddess.

On the contrary, other mythologies of the world had connected the Moon with the feminine, like the Græco-Roman deities Luna, Selene, Hecate and others.

The gender of the celestial deity, is mirrored also in the gender of the noun for "Moon" in these languages (eg. French la Lune but German der Mond). This was also perhaps the case with some of the languages of Arda (Ghân-buri-ghân refers to the Sun as a woman).

[edit] Phases

Tolkien was very careful in the moon phases described in his works, so that they fit the passing of days realistically. Tolkien was remodelling the phases while reviewing the book in 1944 so that he preserves the consistency. The moon phases described in the Lord of the Rings correspond to the phases of years 1941-2 and it is probable that he used a recent calendar for reference.[23] Unfortunately, some minor errors (that can be detected only after thorough measurement and astronomical knowledge) slipped his attention (for example cf. September 22)

[edit] Calendar

The mention that Hobbits and Dwarves based their year and months on the Moon, mirrors the lunar calendar used by several ancient cultures through history, such as the Hebrews. The observation of the Moon phases formed the months; the words are even related etymologically in some languages (cf. the English words "Moon" and "month").

[edit] Other versions of the legendarium

[edit] Early concepts

In the early versions of The Silmarillion as described in The Book of Lost Tales Part One, a part of the History of Middle-earth series, the Moon was described in great detail as an immense island of crystal. It was also said there that the youth Tilion was said to secretly be in love with Arien, the maiden who guided the Sun, and that because he steered the Moon too close to the Sun the Moon was burned, causing the darker spots on the Moon which in reality are caused by the great basalt plains known as Lunar maria.

The Man in the Moon is even described in those writings, as being an old Elf who secretly hid on the island of the Moon, and built his minaret there. This is alluded to further in Tolkien's Roverandom, where the Man in the Moon also lives in a Minaret.

In writings which are older than the material from which the publised Silmarillion was drawn, the Moon was described at one point rather as being created by Morgoth as a mockery of Arda the world, but this notion was abandoned.

[edit] Later concepts

In the Round World version of the legendarium, the Sun and the Moon were not the fruit of the Two Trees, but actually preceded the creation of the Trees. Instead, the Trees preserved the light of the Sun before it was tainted by Melkor when he ravished Arien.

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

1978: The Lord of the Rings (1978 film):

The moon appears in the background of various scenes. In a notable animation error, it is visible behind both Frodo and Boromir when the latter tries to persuade Frodo to give the Ring at Amon Hen.[24]

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game):

The Moon - or rather, an image of the near side of the moon in the plenilune - is used as a backdrop for scenes playing at night, and appears recognizably in the sky in cut scenes. It appears behind Strider as he finds Merry in the streets of Bree,[25] behind the Watcher in the Water, [26] and behind the fell beast in the final cut scene.[27]

[edit] In other stories

The moon is an important location in Tolkien's children's story Roverandom. After being turned into a toy dog, the wizard Psamathos Psamathides summons his postman Mew (a seagull) to take Rover to the moon to see the Man-in-the-Moon.[28]:17 ff One side of the moon is white with a dark sky and tall mountains, whilst the dark side of the moon is dark with a light sky and deep valleys.[28]:40 Although home to spiders, the main enemy on the moon is the White Dragon (later renamed the Mottled Monster).[28]:34-6

[edit] See also

[edit] External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Of J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, "The Drowning of Anadûnê"
  5. 5.0 5.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 347 (dated December 17, 1972)
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix D
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, "The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Short Rest"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix D
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Five. Myths Transformed", pp. 376-7
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Index of Names"
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Two. The Annals of Aman: Sixth and last section of the Annals of Aman", p. 130
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor" (edited by Carl F. Hostetter), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 42, July 2001, p. 13
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Three: The Etymologies", p. 383 (entry RAN-)
  16. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 232 (citing from the Unfinished index; form: ithil)
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), pp. 30, 39, 121 (form: Ithil
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Three: The Etymologies", pp. 361, 385, 392 (entries I-, SIL- and THIL-)
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Three: The Etymologies" (entry PHAR)
  20. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Four. Quendi and Eldar", p. 401
  21. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Taming of Sméagol"; J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Passage of the Marshes"; J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Forbidden Pool". Cfr. "Yellow Face" (the Sun by Gollum).
  22. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Ring Goes South"
  24. Goofs,
  25. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game), "Bree"
  26. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game), "Hollin Gate"
  27. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game), "Amon Hen"
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 J.R.R. Tolkien; Christina Scull, Wayne G. Hammond (eds.), Roverandom
Middle-earth Cosmology
 Constellations  Anarríma · Durin's Crown · Menelmacar · Remmirath · Soronúmë · Telumendil · Valacirca · Wilwarin
Stars  Alcarinquë · Borgil · Carnil · Elemmírë · Helluin · Luinil · Lumbar · Morwinyon · Nénar · Star of Eärendil · Til 
The Airs  Aiwenórë · Fanyamar · Ilmen · Menel · Vaiya · Veil of Arda · Vista
Narsilion  Arien · Moon (Isil, Ithil, Rána) · Sun (Anar, Anor, Vása) · Tilion
See Also  Abyss · Arda · Circles of the World · · Timeless Halls · Two Lamps · Two Trees · Void