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Two Trees of Valinor

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Two Trees of Valinor
Trees/source of light
Roger Garland - Two Trees of Valinor.jpg
"Two Trees of Valinor" by Roger Garland
AppearanceTwo tall trees, one of gold, the other of silver
V.Y. 3450–3500
DestroyerMelkor and Ungoliant
Y.T. 1495

The Two Trees of Valinor are Telperion and Laurelin, the Silver Tree and the Gold that brought light to the Land of the Valar in ancient times. They were destroyed by Melkor and Ungoliant, but their last flower and fruit were made by the Valar into the Moon and the Sun.


[edit] History

[edit] Creation and characteristics

The first sources of light for all of Arda were two enormous Lamps, Illuin, the silver one to the north and Ormal, the golden one to the south. These were cast down and destroyed by Melkor. Afterward, the Valar went to Valinor and Yavanna sang into existence the Two Trees, silver Telperion and golden Laurelin. Telperion was considered male and Laurelin female. The Trees sat on the hill Ezellohar located outside Valimar. They grew in the presence of all of the Valar, watered by the tears of Nienna.

Each tree was a source of light: Telperion's silver and Laurelin's gold. Telperion had dark leaves (silver on one side) and his silvery dew was collected as a source of water and of light. Laurelin had gold-trimmed leaves and her dew was likewise collected by Varda.

One "day" lasted twelve hours. Each Tree, in turn, would give off light for seven hours (waxing to full brightness and then slowly waning again), so that at one hour each of "dawn" and "dusk" soft gold and silver light would be given off together.

[edit] Destruction

Luis F. Bejarano - Morgoth and Ungoliant attacking the Two Trees

Jealous Melkor enlisted the help of the giant spider-creature Ungoliant (an ancestress of Shelob) to destroy the Two Trees. Concealed in a cloud of darkness, Melkor struck each Tree and the insatiable Ungoliant devoured whatever life and light remained in them.

Again Yavanna sang and Nienna wept, but they succeeded only in reviving Telperion's last flower (to become the Moon) and Laurelin's last fruit (to become the Sun). These were assigned to lesser spirits, male Tilion and female Arien, after the 'genders' of the Trees themselves.

However, the true light of the Trees, before their poisoning by Ungoliant, was said to now reside only in the Silmarils.

[edit] In lore

The Two Trees of Valinor existed at a time when the only other source of light were the stars (which had been created for the Elves' benefit by Varda from the dews collected from the Two Trees). When three Elven ambassadors were brought to see Valinor for themselves, in order that the Elves might be convinced to come to Valinor, it seems that the Two Trees affected them most significantly.

In particular Thingol is said to have been motivated in the Great Journey by his desire to see the Light of Valinor again (until he finds contentment in the light he sees in Melian's face). Also in later times, the Elves would be divided between the Calaquendi who had seen the light of the Trees, and the Moriquendi who had not, with the former group explicitly superior in many ways.

The whole of the history of the First Age is strongly affected by the desire of many different characters to possess the Silmarils, which contain the only remaining unsullied light of the Trees.

In the Second and Third Ages, the White Trees of Númenor and of Gondor, whose likeness descends from that of Telperion, have a mostly symbolic significance. They stand both as symbols of the kingdoms in question, and also as reminders of the ancestral alliance between the Dúnedain and the Elves.

[edit] Names and Etymology


The pair of the trees was perhaps referred to as Aldu in Quenya, the dual form of alda. The word as such appears in the names of the weekday name Aldúya ("Day of the Two Trees") and Aldudénië ("Lament for the Trees").[1]

[edit] Other versions of the Legendarium

The concept of the Two Trees is present since the earliest writings of the Legendarium, as in The Book of Lost Tales. In that continuity, the Elves maintained a prophecy concerning their rekindling and return to Luthany in historical times. In the Cottage of Lost Play the Elves toasted "to the rekindling of the Magic Sun" which Christopher Tolkien interprets as an expectation of the future event.[2]

In Tolkien's latest writings in which Arda was a round world from its beginning, the Two Trees held the light of the untainted Sun rather than the light of the Two Lamps, which in this history never existed. They still lit the darkened world during the Years of the Trees, though in this history the darkness came from Melkor's sorceries rather than the absence of a Sun or Moon.[3]

[edit] Inspiration

Michael Martinez has noted a similarity to Persian mythology, where:

"there is a legend of two cypress trees, the Trees of the Sun and Moon, that are said to have been planted by Zoroaster himself. Alexander the Great, hearing of these trees, visited them when he conquered Persia. He asked the oracle of the trees what his future would be. The oracle told him that he would go on to conquer India but that he would then die soon afterward. In some versions of the legend the trees themselves speak to Alexander. According to Marco Polo, the Khalif Motawakkil had one of the trees cut down in the 9th Century CE (when the tree was said to be 1450 years old) and sent to Baghdad. The Khalif was subsequently murdered by his own guards (Cf. The Book of Ser by Marco Polo, the Venetian)."

While Martinez acknowledges that there is no "direct connection between J.R.R. Tolkien and Marco Polo", he speculates that Tolkien possibly was familiar with the writings of Marco Polo. Tolkien himself visited Venice many times, which he identified with Gondor - where supposedly the Tale of Two Trees was preserved.[4]

Clyde S. Kilby has suggested that the concept of the Two Trees shows an influence from the Biblical description of the creation of the world ("Let there be Light!"):

"The Two Trees in The Silmarillion are at first the source of light. After the desctruction of the Two Trees there is a long period of twilight in Middle-earth and it is during this time that first Elves and then Dwarves awaken. It is only long afterwards, with the rising of sun and moon, that Men awaken."[5]

[edit] See also


  1. Helge Fauskanger, "Quettaparma Quenyallo", Ardalambion (accessed 19 November 2019)
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "The History of Eriol or Ælfwine and the End of the Tales"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Five. Myths Transformed", p. 375 - 385
  4. Michael Martinez, "Is There a Source for the Tale of the Two Trees?" dated 29 November 2011, (accessed 31 December 2011)
  5. Clyde S. Kilby, Tolkien and the Silmarillion, "Tolkien as Christian Writer", pp. 59-60
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