|Other names||The Great Jewels, The Three Jewels, Jewels of Fëanor|
|Location||Formenos, Angband, Tol Galen, Doriath, Mouths of Sirion|
|Owner||Fëanor, Morgoth, Thingol, Beren, Lúthien, Dior, Elwing, Eärendil, Eönwë, Maedhros, Maglor|
|Appearance||Hard, bright crystals containing the light of the Two Trees|
Tirion, Y.T. 1449-1450
|Gallery||Images of Silmarils|
- "...The thrice-enchanted globes of light
that shine until the final night"
- ― Lay of Leithian, Canto VI, vv.1642-1643
The Silmarils (Quenya Silmarilli) were three gems of immense might and beauty. Their theft by Morgoth is the triggering fact of the events of the First Age, narrated in the Quenta Silmarillion ("The History of the Silmarils").
The gems were crafted of the hard crystalline substance silima, which Fëanor had devised, as their shell, and were named after it. In their heart burned some of the Light of Valinor from the Two Trees. Their exact nature and manner of making the Silmarils were known only to Fëanor, and none other succeeded in making gems of comparable greatness and beauty. Varda hallowed the Silmarils so that no mortal or evil hands were allowed to touch them without being burned and withered.
But the Silmarils were tainted by arrogance and lust by anyone who desired them, starting with Morgoth, then Fëanor. As the Oath of Fëanor proclaimed, it resulted in evil ends, such as the Fall of the Noldor, the Doom of Mandos, Kinslayings and the destruction of Doriath.
The Silmarils were created by Fëanor in Valinor after the unchaining of Melkor. According to a legend, Fëanor conceived the idea of capturing the light of the trees from the hair of Galadriel, which shone with gold and silver. Fëanor gave his heart to their making and could not duplicate them.
Fëanor wore the jewels at festivals and the Eldar admired them. Melkor coveted their light and soon, corrupted by his lies, Fëanor started to lock them away, and became greedy for them. After Fëanor was exiled to Formenos, the Silmarils were stored in a chamber of iron.
Together with Ungoliant, Melkor destroyed the Two Trees. The Silmarils now contained all that remained of the light of the Trees. The Valar entreated Fëanor to give up the Silmarils so they could restore the Trees, but he refused.
Theft by Morgoth
Then news came: Melkor had killed Fëanor's father Finwë, the King of the Noldor, and stolen all the gems. He and Ungoliant fled to the northlands of Middle-earth, where his ancient fortresses were, but they quarrelled as the spider had devoured all the gems, and wanted also the Silmarils, something that Melkor, now named Morgoth by Fëanor, would not allow, even though their holy light burnt his hands and ceaselessly tormented him. The Silmarils were set on his Iron Crown.
Fëanor was furious at Morgoth and at the Valar's perceived desire to take the gems for their own purposes. Then he and his Sons sweared a terrible Oath: that they would not rest until the Silmarils were recovered, slaying anyone who stand in their way. Fëanor led the Noldor back to Middle-earth and a centenary war began against Morgoth in Beleriand, called the War of the Jewels. But their battles led to no end of grief for the Elves and eventually for the Men of Middle-earth.
The Sindarin King Thingol knew of the Silmarils from the Noldor. Wishing to dispose of Beren, he tasked him to fetch one for the hand of his daughter. Impelled by his love for Lúthien, Beren reached Angband through great peril and loss and recovered one, only for it to be swallowed by Carcharoth. The hallowed light tormented evil Carcharoth, until he was slain in the Hunting of the Wolf. The Silmaril thus was delivered to Thingol, fulfilling his Quest.
Instead of giving it to the Sons of Fëanor, Thingol had the gem stored inside the dwarven pendant Nauglamír by the Dwarves of Nogrod, who however also coveted the jewel and killed Thingol. Doriath was ruined by the Dwarves. The Nauglamír was recovered by Beren in Tol Galen, and Lúthien wore it until her second death, becoming the fairest vision east of the Sea. It was said that their second death came early, because their combined beauty was too bright for mortal lands.
Doom of the Noldor
After Lúthien's death, a Lord of the Laiquendi brought the Nauglamír back to Doriath, and her son Dior wore it. These news came to the sons of Fëanor, who, stirred by their Oath, came to Doriath and resolved to battle, during which three of the brothers were killed, and Menegroth was ruined. However the Nauglamír was rescued by Elwing and Sindarin survivors who fled to the Havens of Sirion.
Years passed and the Silmaril passed to the hands of Elwing's husband, Eärendil, the lord of the Havens of Sirion. His people considered the Silmaril to be a blessing for their houses and ships. But the sons of Fëanor still pursued the Silmaril and when they learned that Elwing escaped there, they made their demand in friendly terms, while Eärendil was absent in one of his voyages. But the people of Sirion refused to surrender it, considering it a rightful prize of Beren and Lúthien. Therefore the Fëanorians resolved to make another assault, but again, Elwing and the Silmaril escaped. With the help of Ulmo, Elwing and the Silmaril ended up in the hands of Eärendil; it was its light that guided him through the Shadowy Seas and he found his way to Valinor. The Valar then set this Silmaril as a Star and worn on his brow.
The other two gems remained in Morgoth's hands, and were taken from him only at the end of the War of Wrath. However, soon afterwards, they were stolen by Fëanor's two surviving sons Maedhros and Maglor. But because of their crimes in order to reclaim the jewels, they were unworthy of them, and the jewels burned their hands, in refusal of their rights of possession. In agony, Maedhros threw himself and his Silmaril into a fiery pit, and Maglor threw his into the sea.
It is said that Fëanor will return only for Dagor Dagorath. Following Melkor's final return and ultimate defeat, the World will be changed and the Silmarils recovered. Fëanor will break his jewels and with their fire Yavanna will revive the Two Trees. The Pelóri Mountains will be flattened and the light of the Two Trees will fill Arda again in a new age of Eternal Bliss.
The proper Quenya plural form is Silmarilli, "Silmarils" being an Anglicised name.
In the Etymologies appears the Noldorin name Silevril, being related to Quenya Silmaril. Tolkien appears to have retained the Noldorin form in Sindarin, since the name Pennas Silevril (apparently the Sindarin translation of Quenya Quenta Silmarillion) is used in later manuscripts.
In Aelfwine's Old English translations, the name Silmaril is rendered phonetically as Sigelmaerels. As noted by Christopher Tolkien it is composed of OE sigel ("sun, jewel") maerels ("rope"), actually referring to the Nauglamir.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names", entry sil-
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Númenor"
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", p. 230
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Beren and Lúthien"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Doriath"
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Two. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: The Last Chapters of the Quenta Silmarillion", p. 247
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entries "RIL", "SIL"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 148, (dated 7 August 1954)
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, "Addenda and Corrigenda to the Etymologies — Part Two" (edited by Carl F. Hostetter and Patrick H. Wynne), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 46, July 2004, p. 11
- ↑ Helge Fauskanger, Sindarin, the Noble Tongue: Sindarin Plural Patterns at Ardalambion (accessed 10 July 2011)
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Three. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: (II) The Second Phase: The Valaquenta", p. 200
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entry "MIR"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "III. The Quenta: Appendix 1: Fragments of a translation of The Quenta Noldorinwa into Old English, made by Ælfwine or Eriol; together with Old English equivalents of Elvish names", p. 209