Luthien

The Silmarillion » Elves » Sindar

Luthien by Ted Nasmith
Luthien by Ted Nasmith

Lúthien “Blossom Maiden”
daughter of Thingol, the King of Doriath, and Melian the Maiar, Lúthien was also called Tinúviel, “Daughter of Twilight” or nightingale. She was the wife of the mortal man Beren (from the House of Beor), and the mother of Dior. She chose to become mortal and share Beren’s fate. Their story is told in the “Lay of Liethian”. Her descendant, Arwen, is often called Tinúviel because of their similarities.

Lúthien was born in the forests of Neldoreth in Doriath. Melian cast her “girdle” around Doriath, and protected the Kingdom. Lúthien would walk around the forests and sing. One day in 464 of the First Age, Beren journeyed into Doriath after his many years of perilous journeys and woes. He came across Lúthien as she danced among the grass during the evening under the moonrise. Beren was enchanted by her beauty, as she had grey eyes, dark hair, a blue dress, and golden flowers in her hair. He called her Tinúviel, for he knew no other name for her. Lúthien and Beren would meet secretly in the forests, but Daeron, the minstrel to Thingol who loved Lúthien, told the King about their meeting. Thingol was angered that Lúthien was with a mortal man and they were led to Thingol’s throne. Beren spoke proudly that he thought Lúthien was the fairest of all the Children of the World, and everyone thought he would be slain by his words. Beren also spoke of the ring he wore from his father, Barahir (The Ring was given to Barahir from Finrod, who was recued by Barahir. The Ring became an heirloom for the House of Isildur, which is eventually given to Aragorn.). Thingol gave Beren a quest to get a Silmaril from the Morgoth’s Crown, and only if he brings one back can he have Lúthien’s hand. Many thought Beren was going to his doom, but he just laughed and accepted the mission. Beren said farewell to Lúthien and left. A silence fell upon the woods, as Lúthien was silent and sang no more.

Beren, with Finrod Felagund and ten champions, set forth to Morgoth but were waylaid by Sauron and cast into a deep pit. During this time, Lúthien discovered from Melian that Beren lay in the dungeons of Tol-in-Gaurhoth with no hope for escape. She planned to fly to Beren but she was betrayed by Daeron. Thingol, therefore, built a wooden house in the greatest tree in Neldoreth. Lúthien was made to dwell here, and the ladders were taken away. However, Lúthien used her enchantments to make her hair grow very long, and wove a dark rope which was laden with a spell of sleep. She let it down from her window and it made the guards fall asleep. Then Lúthien climbed down and left Doriath in a shadowy cloak. During her flee, Lúthien was captured by Celegorm and Curufin, who wanted to overthrow Thingol and force Lúthien to marry Celegorm. However, their wolfhound, Huan, was loyal to Lúthien and helped her to escape. For Huan could under speech but was allowed to speak only three times during his life. Lúthien then came to the bridge that led to Sauron’s isle and sang. Beren heard but he thought he was dreaming. Sauron came forth in the form of a werewolf and attacked Lúthien, but Huan sprang. Sauron could not overthrow Huan, and so retreated in the form of a vampire. Lúthien became the master of the bridge and went to the pits to find Beren. He was mourning the death of Finrod Felagund. He and Lúthien then buried him, and they went free again together.

Luthien Escapes the Treehouse by Ted Nasmith
Luthien Escapes the Treehouse by Ted Nasmith

However, when they reached Doriath, Beren was still haunted by the quest made by Thingol. Lúthien told him that whatever decision he made, she would follow him. Before they got to Doriath, Celegorm and Curufin came back and tried to capture Lúthien, but Beren fought with them. Celegorm shot an arrow at Lúthien but Beren sprang before her and was hit in the chest. Huan, the wolfhound, pursued Celegorm and Curufin, and returning brought Lúthien a herb to heal Beren. He was healed but decided to continue his quest for the Silmaril. While Lúthien was sleeping, he headed towards Thangorodrim where Morgoth dwelt. Before leaving the Pass of Sirion, Beren sang the Song of Parting in praise of Lúthien. But Lúthien heard and went in search for him with Huan. At Sauron’s isle (Tol-in-Gaurhoth), Huan took the form of the werewolf Draugluin, and Lúthien disguised herself as Thuringwethil, the She-bat, and entered Angband. When they reached Beren, they removed their disguise and Beren and Lúthien were together again. Beren, however, didn’t want Lúthien so close to Morgoth. But Huan spoke and said they were to share the same doom together. Beren then became disguised as Draugluin and together they came to the Gate of Angband and dared to go into Morgoth’s Hall. Lúthien was stripped of her disguise and offered to sing for Morgoth. All his court fell into slumber, and Lúthien cast her cloak before Morgoth’s eyes and sent upon him a dream. Beren then drew his knife Angrist and cut a Silmaril from Morgoth’s Crown. But while trying to cut another one, a shard from the knife hit Morgoth and awoke. Beren and Lúthien then fled but were chased by the werewolf Carcharoth. Beren shined the light of the Silmaril at the wolf but Carcharoth bit off the hand of Beren with the Silmaril. The Silmaril burned the wolf’s flesh and sent him fleeing. Beren was poisoned from the venom of Carcharoth and would have died but great birds appeared and flew Beren and Lúthien back to Doriath. Lúthien and Huan tended Beren and he was recovered and from then named Erchamion, One-handed (466 FA).

They happily lived in the forests, but Beren decided to go back to Thingol. So he and Lúthien walked into the Hall of Thingol and Beren said his quest was fulfilled. Thingol told him to show him his hand with the Silmaril, and so Beren held up his right arm, with the missing hand. Thingol’s mood changed and he listened to their story. However, news was brought that said Carcharoth was entering Doriath. Beren and Thingol, with other hunters, went in search of the wolf. Beren threw a spear at Carcharoth, but the wolf threw it back at Beren and was wounded. Huan eventually killed Carcharoth, but was mortally wounded. Carcharoth’s belly was cut open and they took out Beren’s hand with the Silmaril. Beren was carried back to Menegroth, but he was dead. Lúthien died with grief, and went to the Halls of Mandos. She sang for Mandos and a choice was given to her because of her labors and sorrows. She could dwell in Valinor, or become mortal and subject to a second death, but would live in Middle-earth with Beren. She chose to become mortal and she and Beren were resurrected and lived in Tol Galen, in Ossiriand (469 FA). They had a son, Dior, Thingol’s Heir, who was part of the three races, Maiar, Eldar, and Edain. In later years, Beren fought against the Dwarves and reclaimed the Silmaril which had been taken by the Dwarves and made into a necklace. Lúthien wore the Nauglamír, the Dwarf necklace, which contained the Silmaril. Beren and Lúthien lived out the rest of their mortal lives in Tol Galen. After their death in 505 FA, Dior inherited the Silmaril, which was then passed to his daughter Elwing.

Luthien's Lament Before Mandos by Ted Nasmith
Luthien’s Lament Before Mandos by Ted Nasmith

Elwing

The Silmarillion » Elves » Sindar

Elwing “Star Spray”
daughter of Dior (Lúthien and Beren’s son) and Nimloth, an elf from Doriath. Elwing was the wife of Eärendil the Mariner, who was also Half-elven (being Idril‘s son), and she was the mother of Elrond and Elros. She was named “Star Spray” after the Lanthir Lamath, “Waterfall of Echoing Voices”, where she was born in 500 of the First Age. Elwing was actually part of three races; Maiar, Eldar, and Edain, since her father was Lúthien and Beren’s son. Elwing’s husband was Half-Elven, and so her children had the choice of either becoming mortal or to remain with the elves. Elrond chose to stay with his kin, and later ruled Imladris (Rivendell) and was the keeper of Vilya, the ring of air. Elros chose the mortal life of Men and became the first King of Numenor.

After Elwing was born, Dior and Nimloth went to Doriath and Dior was named the King. After Lúthien and Beren died in 505 FA, the Nauglamir, the dwarf necklace containing a Silmaril which Lúthien had worn, was given to him. However, Fëanor’s sons found out about the silmaril and attacked Doriath. Elves fought against each other and Dior and Nimloth were slain. Elwing’s two young brothers were left in the forest to starve but Elwing fled with some of her people to the mouth of the River Sirion. With her was the Silmaril. At the Sirion, they were later joined by Idril and Tuor’s people from Gondolin, which included their son Eärendil.

After living sometime in the Havens of Sirion, Elwing and Eärendil were wed and they had two sons, Elrond and Elros Half-elven. Eärendil loved the sea and learned from Cirdan the Ship-wright. He built his own ship, the Vingilot and sailed in the sea. Elwing did not go with him, and sat in sorrow by the mouths of Sirion. Eärendil could not find Valinor, and so longing for Elwing, he returned to land. However, the sons of Feanor that still lived learned that Elwing had the silmaril. They attacked the elves of Doriath and Gondolin at Sirion and took Elrond and Elros captive. Elwing cast herself into the sea with the silmaril. However, Ulmo (Valar of the Waters) bore Elwing out of the waters as a great white bird with the silmaril and flew to Eärendil while he was on his ship. The next morning she was back in her normal form. They sailed to Valinor and Eärendil talked with the Valar, representing both Man and Elf. The Valar gave Eärendil and his family a choice to live in Valinor or live with mortals. Elwing chose to stay in Valinor, although she was very fond of Men. Eärendil sailed on Vingilot and was lifted into the heavens as the brightest star, Eärendil the Mariner, with the Silmaril at his brow. For Elwing, who loved the earth and wind, was built a white tower on the coast of Valinor. It is said that she learned the tongue of birds and they taught her to fly. She would fly to meet Eärendil when he sailed close to Arda (Earth) much like when she was rescued in the sea. As for their children, Elrond and Elros were taken by Maglor (Fëanor’s son) and raised them.

Earendil and Elwing by Roger Garland
Earendil and Elwing by Roger Garland

Aredhel

The Silmarillion » Elves » Noldor (House of Fingolfin)

Eol Welcomes Aredhel by Ted Nasmith
Eol Welcomes Aredhel by Ted Nasmith

Aredhel “Noble Elf”
sister of Turgon King of Gondolin and daughter of Fingolfin (one of Indis‘s sons). She was called Ar-Feiniel, White Lady of the Noldor, and White Lady of Gondolin because she was pale with dark hair and always wore silver garments. Aredhel was tall and strong, loved to ride and hunt in the forests and was often in the company of Fëanor’s sons. She dwelt in Nevrast with her brother Turgon, and then went with him to Gondolin, the Hidden Kingdom. She soon grew tired of the guarded city, however, because she was very independent and adventurous and longed to ride again in the lands and walk in the forests. She asked Turgon if she could depart and explore the lands, though he was reluctant at first, he said she could go if he sent escorts with her. She refused the escorts but Turgon made three of his lords go with her. After they set off, Aredhel told them to lead her south to find the sons of Fëanor, who were her friends. Aredhel and her company traveled to Doriath but were not admitted in because Thingol wanted no Noldor to pass the Girdle of Melian. Aredhel then traveled through the dangerous road between the haunted valleys of Ered Gorgoroth. The land was filled with shadows and she was strayed from her companions. The lords barely escaped, but eventually made it back to Gondolin and told Turgon the dreadful news. Turgon assumed she was dead and was much grieved.

Aredhel, however, rode on and found her way to Himlad where Celegorm and Curufin (Fëanor’s sons) lived. They were away, riding with Caranthir (their other brother) but their people welcomed Aredhel. After a year, Celegorm had still not returned and so Aredhel wanted to travel to more lands and eventually came to the woods of Nan Elmoth. It was now a place of dark trees and where the sun never came. This was where Eöl, the dark elf dwelt. He loved the night and twilight and shunned the Noldor. He was friends with the dwarves and learned much from them, including skill in metalwork. He was a high kin of the Teleri and was always clad in galvorn, black metal that he made. He had a very piercing stare and when he saw Aredhel, she was like a gleam of white in the dim land. He used his enchantments so she could not find the way out and eventually was led to his home. Eöl welcomed her, and took her as wife and she lived there for a long time.

Aredhel wanted no love from anyone, but was not wholly unwilling; she was able to wander the woods, but Eöl made her shun the sun and forbade her to seek the sons of Fëanor and other Noldor. She had a son named Lomion, “Child of the Twilight”. However, Eöl called him no name until he was twelve, and then named him Maeglin, “Sharp Glance”. He was very close to his mother, and she would often tell him about the Noldor. He wanted to go to Gondolin, and was interested because Turgon had no heir, since Idril was his only daughter. So when Eöl went to visit the dwarves, Aredhel and Maeglin went to the secret city. However, Eöl came back sooner than they expected and learned that they left, and went out after them.

Aredhel and Maeglin were honored in the city and King Turgon rejoiced in the return of his sister. However, Eöl found the secret city and was taken captive by the guards. Aredhel told them that he was her husband and he was honored as a guest. But Eöl hated the Noldor, he thought they had stole land from the Sindarin and brought war. He wanted Maeglin to come with him but his son chose not to. Angered, Eöl threw a spear at Maeglin but Aredhel ran in front of him and was struck in the shoulder. The wound worsened because it was actually tipped with poison, and so died Aredhel during the night. Turgon showed no mercy and cast Eöl over the Caragdûr, a sharp cliff on a mountain in Gondolin. Eöl felt betrayed by Maeglin, saying before he died, “So you [Maeglin] forsake your father and his kin, ill-gotten son! Here shall you fail of all your hopes, and here may you yet die the same death as I.” [which actually he does, see Idril]

Aredhel by Anke Eissmann
Aredhel by Anke Eissmann

Idril

The Silmarillion » Elves » Noldor (House of Fingolfin)

Idril “Sparkling Brilliance”
called Celebrindal, Silver-foot, the golden-haired daughter (and only child) of Turgon the King of Gondolin and Elenwë. Maeglin, son of Aredhel, loved her but she did not love him due to his dark character and because they were too closely related (they were cousins, Aredhel was Turgon’s sister). His love, however, turned to darkness in his heart. Idril married the mortal man Tuor (the son of Huor and Rían) and their son was Eärendil Half-elven (Elrond’s father).

Idril made a secret passage leading out of Gondolin because she feared an attack from Morgoth. Indeed, Morgoth attacked Gondolin and Tuor was going to lead Idril out of the city when Maeglin siezed her. Tuor fought and cast Maeglin down into the rocky slopes below. Tuor and Idril helped their people escape through the passage she made. They passed over the mountains to Nan-tathren and went southwards down the river to the sea and dwelt by the mouth of the Sirion, joined by Elwing‘s people. After a while, Tuor built a ship called Eärrámë (Sea-Wing) and sailed with Idril into the West. Tuor, alone of mortal men, went with the Noldor to Valinor.

Idril also owned the original Elessar, the Elfstone necklace that was made by the Elven-smith Enerdhil. It was green as leaves and it was said that all “those who looked through this stone saw things that were withered or burned healed again and the hands of those that held it brought to all that they touched healing from hurt”. Before Idril set sail with Tuor in 560 First Age, she gave this jewel to her son Eärendil to heal all the hurts of Middle-earth. However, once Eärendil sailed into the heavens, the Elessar was lost. A second Elessar was made for Galadriel in the Second Age. For the story of Idril’s son Eärendil, see Elwing.

In Middle-earth, there were only three Elf-Human marriages. Lúthien and Beren, Idril and Tuor, and Arwen and Aragorn.

Galadriel

LOTR » Elves » Noldor (House of Finarfin)

The Mirror of Galadriel by Alan Lee

Galadriel “Radiant Maiden” or “Tree Maiden”
also called Lady of Light, Lady of the Noldor, Lady of Lórien, Lady of the Wood, Mistress of Magic, she was the only daughter of Finarfin (Noldor) and Eärwen (Teleri). Her brothers were Finrod, Orodreth, Angrod, and Aegnor. She is said to be one of the most beautiful of the Noldor and her golden hair captured the radiance of the Two Trees themselves. She wedded Celeborn of Doriath and their only child was Celebrían, the mother of Arwen. She was part of the rebellion against the Valar and went to Middle-earth with her brothers so she could rule her own realm. She and Finrod often visited Thingol in Doriath, which is where she met Celeborn. There was much love between them, and so Galadriel stayed there and learned much lore and wisdom about Middle-earth from Melian. Galadriel would often talk with Melian about Valinor, and she revealed to Melian the story of the Silmarils and how the Noldor Elves were banished from Valinor.

After many of the elves returned to Valinor at the end of the First Age, Galadriel and Celeborn remained in Middle-earth. She alone remained of those who led the Noldor to exile into Beleriand. Galadriel was the keeper of one of the three Elven Rings, Nenya, the Ring of Water that was set in adament. She was the oldest and wisest elf left in Middle-earth, and also the most powerful and she alone remembered the days of Valinor. For a time, she and Celeborn lived in Lindon, the land west of the Blue Mountains by the Sea. In 1981 TA, after the loss of Amroth, Galadriel and Celeborn became Lady and Lord of Lothlórien and dwelt there until the end of the Third Age. She was Queen to the Galadrim who dwelt there and also part of the Council of the Wise (formed 2463 Third Age), which included Elrond, Círdan, other Elf Lords, Mithrandir (Gandalf), and Curunír (Saruman). Curunír was chosen as the Chief, although Galadriel wanted Mithrandir to be head of the council.

During the War of the Ring, Galadriel aided the Fellowship when they reached Lórien and used her Mirror to show Frodo the horrors of what could happen. She gave each member of the fellowship gifts, including the Phial of Galadriel to Frodo. She also aided Gandalf after his battle with the Balrog. Lórien was attacked three times from Dol Guldur, but Galadriel and Celeborn destroyed Dol Guldur and the forest was saved. On September 29, 3021, the last year of the Third Age, Galadriel departs over the Sea with Gandalf, Elrond, Frodo, and Bilbo, and they sail to Valinor. Celeborn remained behind and guarded Lothlórien for a time and then retired to Rivendell. He eventually sails into the West and joins Galadriel.

The Ring of Galadriel by Brothers Hildebrandt
The Ring of Galadriel by Brothers Hildebrandt

Arwen

LOTR » Elves » Sindar/Edain/Noldor

Arwen Unodmiel by Magali Villeneuve (LOTR LCG)
Arwen Unodmiel by Magali Villeneuve (LOTR LCG)

Arwen “Noble Maiden”
Also called Evenstar, or Undómiel, “Daughter of Twilight”, she was the daughter of Elrond and Celebrían of Rivendell and the granddaughter of Galadriel. She had two older brothers, the twins Elrohir and Elladan. Born in 241 in the Third Age, Arwen was 2,777 years old during the War of the Ring. Arwen and Aragorn first met in the woods of Rivendell, where he thought she was Lúthien and called out Tinúviel!. Even though Aragorn was raised by Elrond in Rivendell, they had never met because Arwen spent some time in Lothlórien visiting her mother’s kin. Aragorn loved Arwen, but Elrond told him that he is grieved by the doom that awaits her. Elrond feared that Arwen would choose to stay in Middle-earth and become mortal instead of going with him to the Undying Lands. Aragorn left Rivendell and took to the life of a Ranger, wandering the lands for 30 years.

Years later, Aragorn was allowed to enter Lothlórien, but did not know that Arwen was there as well. They were reunited after their long parting at Caras Galadhon, under the trees and flowers of gold. It was here where they became betrothed, on the evening of Midsummer, on the mound of Cerin Amroth. Aragorn gave her the heirloom of his House, the Ring of Barahir, and Arwen renounced her Elvish lineage and accepted the mortal life. Arwen said, “Dark is the Shadow, and yet my heart rejoices; for you, Estel, shall be among the great whose valour will destroy it.” She called him by his Elvish name that Elrond had given him, Estel, meaning “Hope”.

Elrond was grieved when he learned of Arwen’s decision. He tells Aragorn that he doesn’t want her life to diminish for any less cause and says that Aragorn must become King and reunite Arnor and Gondor in order for them to marry. During the War of the Ring, Arwen met with Aragorn when he went to Rivendell for the Council. After the war, Arwen and Aragorn were married on Midsummer in 3019 Third Age in Minus Tirith. Arwen was parted from her father, but when Elrond grew weary, he left Middle-earth for the Undying Lands and the parting of Arwen and Elrond was very sorrowful, for she loved her father dearly.

As Queen of Elves and Men, Arwen lived with Aragorn for 120 years in great glory. At last she felt the approach of old age. Aragorn went to the House of the Kings in the Silent Street. He told her she still could go back to live with her kin, but Arwen told him the choice was over and that the last ship had already sailed. Aragorn said farewell to his Queen and fell into sleep. Arwen cried, Estel!, but he was already gone.

Arwen said goodbye to her son, Eldarion, and her many daughters, and traveled to Lórien. She dwelt there alone, because Galadriel and Celeborn were gone and the land was silent. At last, before spring had come, Arwen Evenstar laid rest upon Cerin Amroth, the same place where she had been betrothed to Aragorn many years ago, and died.

Arwen and Aragorn by Matthew Stewart
Arwen and Aragorn by Matthew Stewart