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It's All in the Family: The Finweans

by admin last modified Feb 23, 2012 09:44 AM
Originally Published on: August 31, 2001. <br> Related Subject(s): Tolkien, J. R. R. (John Ronald Reuel), 1892-1973 -- Characters ,  Middle Earth (Imaginary place) <br> The central role of Tolkien's mythology is assigned to the family of Finwe, the first King of the Noldor. Unlike the Minyar (Firsts), all of whom migrated to Valinor and became known as the Vanyar, the Tatyar (Seconds) and Nelyar (Thirds) divided themselves into two groups. Those Tatyar who undertook the Great Journey became the Noldor, and Finwe was their leader. Those Nelyar who undertook the Great Journey became the Teleri, and the brethren Elwe and Olwe were their leaders. Hence, Finwe, Elwe, and Olwe were only kings over those members of their clans who followed them on the Great Journey. The remaining Elves, collectively known as the Avari, were ruled by other (unnamed) chieftains...

The significance of this distinction is that Finwe's isolation from the Tatyarin Avari reinforces Tolkien's emerging view that Finwe should not be a first generation Elf. Although Tolkien never says so, it would be respectful of Finwe's primacy if all the Tatyar were to accept his decision to go Aman. Since Ingwe, Finwe, and Elwe had to persuade their people to undertake the journey, we know that they did not have the autocratic power of Eldarin kings while all the Elves lived in Cuivienen. The social structure of the primitive Elven culture must therefore have been substantially different from that of the Eldarin realms in later ages. Feanor, too, had to persuade the Noldor to follow him into exile, but he was making an emotional appeal during a time of crisis while he was still under the ban of the Valar. His legitimacy as their king was questionable, since Fingolfin was technically still the acting king in Tirion. In Middle-earth, Turgon does not appear to have had to persuade his people to follow him when he moved from Nevrast to Gondolin. He simply made the decision and the entire kingdom moved.

It is thus evident that there was a process of evolution for the authority of the Eldarin leaders. It is certainly arguable that a less sophisticated society may not have provided the eldest Elves with the power of monarchs. But if that is the case, then the assumption that Finwe must be identified with Tata, the eldest of the Tatyar, is further weakened. Such identification need not be limited to identification of character with character. It is not apparent that Finwe has to be a descendant of Tata and Tatie. He could have come from any family and risen to prominence through his courage and wisdom.

Nonetheless, the Noldor, more than any other Elven people whose culture Tolkien wrote about, maintained a very patriarchal system. The Noldorin kings achieved a near absolute authority over their people, much like the authority Melkor wielded over his own subjects. In a way, the Noldor became a parody of the very thing they despised: Morgoth's realm. Their social structure must have been compelled toward such autocracy by ancient customs more than by experimentation. In fact, it is reasonable to infer from the names of several Avarin groups that the Tatyar were more prone to division than the Nelyar. If that is so, then Finwe's ability to retain the full loyalty of his people in Aman was remarkable. Feanor was far less popular than his father.

So, whereas the autocratic authority of the later Noldorin kings implies that they may have inherited a primal authority from Tata, Finwe's personality may have played a greater role in establishing that authority than his heritage. That is, for the Noldor, descent from Finwe would be more important than descent from Tata. Which is not to say that the original chieftains of the Tatyar should not have been descended from Tata. It makes sense that, if Iluvatar selected Tata to awaken first of the Elves, he would have the qualities of a natural leader Iluvatar felt the Tatyar would require. Hence, Tata would (if he were a good father) raise his children to be good leaders, too. Leadership would have become the natural role of the family simply because the family exercised leadership. Hence, if Finwe had brothers or cousins who elected not to go to Valinor, they may have become the leaders of the Tatyarin Avari.

The issue of whether Finwe had other relatives is interesting though not necessarily critical to understanding the Noldorin culture. There were other princely houses among the Noldor. They may have shared a kinship with the royal house through common descent from Tata, but Tolkien never explores the subject in any published writing. There were princes in Gondolin, such as Glorfindel (whom Gandalf tells Frodo is descended of a house of princes). Unfortunately, the history of the Gondolin texts makes it impossible to determine how many princes there were in Gondolin, or what their relationship to the Finweans (if any) may have been. Vonronwe claimed kinship with the House of Fingolfin. A common descent from Tata might explain that apparent discrepancy. A descent through a daughter of Fingolfin (one of whom went into exile) might also explain Voronwe's claim. But some people argue that Voronwe's statement may only imply a feudal relationship between his family and Fingolfin's family.

So Gondolin offres us no insight into the Noldor's complex social hierarchies. However, Nargothrond is a different story. There is at least one house of princes there who (apparently) do not claim kinship with the Finweans. That is the family of Guilin, whose son Gwindor bore the chief responsibility for launching the disastrous attack that initiated the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. Gwindor also brought Turin to Nargothrond, which ultimately led to the end of that kingdom. Tolkien says Gwindor is "a very valiant prince". Elsewhere Gwindor is "a lord of Nargothrond". His rank is therefore a noble one, but he is not a Finwean. Whether Guilin's family was regarded as noble from the ancient times or had been elevated to that status by Finwe or one of the kings of Nargothrond is a mystery.

What we can be sure of, however, is that the Finweans derived their special status from Finwe himself. The Noldorin monarchy began with Finwe, and all the legitimate kings of the Noldor claimed descent from him. Furthermore, no Noldorin prince outside the family ever established a realm of his own. The esteem with which Finwe's family was held by his people was strong enough that they limited their choices of kings only to his descendants. Hence, even if all the Tatyarin chieftains were descended from Tata, such a heritage was insufficient to justify a royal prestige.

Finwe's charisma is also evident in the fact that more than one Elven woman loved him. In "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" ("Morgoth's Ring", pp. 207-53), Tolkien writes: "The Eldar wedded once only in life, and for love or at the least by free will upon either part....Marriage, save for rare ill chances or strange fates, was the natural course of life for all Eldar....Those who would afterwards become wedded might choose one another early in youth, even as children (and indeed this happened often in days of peace)...."

If the Eldar's natural course led them to marry only once in life, then Finwe's ability to attract and love more than one wife was extremely unusual. His personality must have been extremely charismatic. It is not fair to say that something may have been wrong with Indis for loving Finwe even while he was married to Miriel. Her love was undoubtedly natural and pure. There is never a hint of any sign of shadow or corruption in either Finwe or Indis in the stories concerning their marriage. Rather, their marriage is recognized as a sign of healing in Finwe's grief over Miriel's death and refusal to return to life. Although the narrative says things would have been better for the Noldor in general had Finwe not remarried, the love he and Indis shared seems to have been as strong and natural as the love that any normal first marriage among the Eldar would have been founded upon.

The distinctive personality of Finwe must therefore have been conveyed to all of his children in one fashion or another. Growing up in the household of a leader whose people may have idolized him would have imbued Finwe's children with a sense of prestige. But seeing their father interact with his people as a leader, and undoubtedly hearing him lecture (as fathers are wont to do) on how to govern or lead people would have provided Feanor, Fingolfin, and Finarfin with a spectacular education in the Noldorin equivalent of the personality cult. Finwe must have been very good at judging the moods of others and figuring out how to get what he wanted. The Noldor thus developed a very close relationship with their king, much closer (it would seem) than that between the Vanyar and Ingwe or the Teleri and Elwe and Olwe.

However, Tolkien added a bit of linguistically inspired poliical division to the environment which produced the Finweans. That is, in "The Shibboleth of Feanor", Tolkien documents the conscious transition most of the Noldor undertook in their daily speech between use of one sound (þ, called a thorn, phonetically related to th) and another (s, which replaced the older sound). The Vanyar, who adhered to ancient practice, retained the older sound. Feanor adhered to it as a symbol of his love for his mother. Finwe, on the other hand, took up the new pronunciation, perhaps as a sign that he was moving on with his life. Indis took up the new pronunciation, too, because she felt she had joined the Noldor and should speak as they did.

Feanor's intransigence was derived in part from the stubborn nature he had inherited from his mother. But the Valar's decision to forbid Miriel's return to life in order to allow Finwe and Indis to marry led Feanor to conclude that Indis was the source of his unhappiness. He apparently did not attend the council where the Valar debated the pros and cons of allowing Finwe to take a second wife, so he did not understand that it was Miriel's intransigence which had led to the conundrum. The Valar wanted only what was just, and in their view (particularly Manwe's), Miriel was being too selfish. She had therefore forfeited all her rights as a living, incarnate being. All Feanor saw was the fact that he was never to speak with his mother again, which would seem (in his grief and anger) like a broken promise from the Valar. After all, the Elves were supposed to live with the life of Arda. Miriel should have been restored to life eventually. That was the natural state for an Elf.

Thus, when Finwe and Indis married, Feanor's resentment of her intrusion into his family assured that he would isolate himself from Finwe's new household. As Feanor raised his sons, they questioned why their uncles and aunts spoke a different way from them. Feanor's response was merely to deride the choices of his relatives. He and his family would respect the language of his beloved mother. Feanor made it a personal issue, and in so doing alienated many of the Noldorin loremasters who would otherwise have accepted and supported his arguments against the linguistic shift. By comparison, consider how (in American idiom), many people today use the pronoun "myself" incorrectly (by the old rules). When speaking of another person and oneself, we should use "me" in the objective and "I" in the subjective. Yet many people have been rebuked by teachers and relatives for using "me" when they should use "I", so they substitute "myself" for "me".

In other words, instead of saying, "They were speaking to my sister and me", most people now say, "They were speaking to my sister and myself". "Myself" is, according to rules of grammar, a reflexive pronoun. It should only be preceded by "I" or "me", and not used alone. Now, imagine if Prince Charles were to launch a personal crusade to correct every person who uses "myself" incorrectly. How long would it be before people decided he was too arrogant to respect? And imagine that while Prince Charles is campaigning against the vulgar idiom, his mother the Queen begins to use "myself" incorrectly. The people's love and respect for a popular monarch will remain intact, because she speaks like they do and doesn't make a fuss over a small issue. That love and respect will not transfer to her son, though.

Feanor thus elevated a minor scholarly disagreement to the status of a political agenda. All those Noldor who used "s" were against him, and all those who retained the thorn pronunciation were his supporters. Ironically, Feanor ignored the Vanyar, who were practitioners of the thorn-pronunciation, and he pursued an alliance with the Teleri, whose speech was radically different from the Quenya spoken by the Noldor and Vanyar. Furthermore, Finarfin retained the thorn-pronunciation for his own purposes. The "Shibboleth" notes that Galadriel switched to the "s" pronunciation in part because of her animosity toward Feanor.

All these life-threatening changes in pronunciation thus symbolized the polarization of Noldorin loyalties. But, more importantly, they underscore the transition between the primitive authority of the Elven chieftains to the autocracy of the Noldorin kings. Feanor was going to have his language his way, and he gathered about him all the people who felt as he did. But because he was such a masterful person, he came to dominate the decisions of his followers. Their transition to almost political automata was completed by their willing participation in the attack on Alqualonde. They may have gone in thinking they were just stealing ships, but when the fighting started getting bloody, none of the Feanorians appear to have stood aside and said, "Wait a minute! What are we doing?"

To a lesser extent, the division over the pronunciation must have influenced the other Noldor not merely to support Finwe and Fingolfin. It must have forced them into an "us and them" frame of mind. One either followed Feanor or one followed Finwe and Fingolfin. Subsequently, Finwe's prestige among the Noldor must have been diminished. He was, after all, dishonoring his own son by not supporting Feanor. It must have been a proud moment for the Feanorians when Finwe departed from TIrion to live with his son in exile. Although Finwe's role in the dispute between Feanor and Fingolfin is silent, it would be only a small leap of the imagination to color him vexed as, when he tries to restore peace between his sons, he finds the Valar have stepped in to deliver their own justice. Then, to add injury to insult, they exile his son, disregarding anything he may have said on Feanor's behalf (not to mention Fingolfin's own attempt at reconciliation). Admittedly, drawing a sword on your brother in public is a pretty nasty piece of business. But Finwe's authority was compromised. He was not permitted to dispense justice within his own family, much less among his own people.

Finwe's act of rebellion was the true beginning of the rebellion of Feanor, despite all the conflicts which had preceded it. Melkor's meddling may have inflamed the Noldor's pride, but it was ultimately the Valar's own decision to exile Feanor from Tirion which set the final sequence of events into motion. Which is not to say the rebellion would not have occurred otherwise. Feanor may eventually have been pushed over the edge regardless of what happened. Melkor's murder of Finwe threw Feanor into the final deep funk which resulted in what could be characterized as his madness. Feanor lost all rational perspective, and because he had been honing his powers of persuasion through the years, and because the Noldor were a nation grieving over the entirely unexpected death of their king and the loss of the Two Trees, Feanor had the perfect moment to infect his people with his madness.

The dynamic of the Finwean personality cult, as it were, was thus founded upon a strong emotional bond between the kings and the people. Feanor had alienated most of the Noldor by the time Melkor murdered Finwe, but misery loves company and Feanor had plenty of company after Melkor and Ungoliant killed the Two Trees and raided Formenos. All of Finwe's just and popular decisions through the equivalent of thousands of years had prepared the way for Feanor's emotional appeal. He may have had the powers of an incredible motivational speaker to begin with, but Feanor probably could not have swayed the Noldor to join him at any other time in their history. Finwe's death and the way Melkor had caught the Valar completely off guard in their own realm must have shaken the Noldor's faith in Manwe and Varda.

Yet, Feanor did not have everything in his favor. Fingolfin, equally grieving for their father, and much loved and respected by the Noldor, argued against Feanor. The debate lasted a long time. There must have been some harsh and bitter words. The sarcasm and ridicule may have rolled off Feanor's tongue fast and furious. Fingolfin may have stopped holding back for a while and simply unloaded on Feanor. All we are told is "fierce words awoke, so that once again wrath came near to the edge of swords." What lay at stake was not simply the fate of the Noldorin nation, nor even just the kingship of the Noldor. Personal issues were pressing forward and both Feanor and Fingolfin were investing (or had invested) themselves in matters of prestige and personal power. That is, Fingolfin by this time felt he should be king of the Noldor. He was, in some ways, nearly as proud and arrogant as his brother.

Fingolfin's Machiavellian ambitions were awakened by Melkor's lies, which had sown dissent among the Noldor. It was when Fingolfin made an emotional plea to their father to restrain Feanor that Feanor drew his sword upon Fingolfin. Feanor accused Fingolfin of harboring royal ambition. It may be that Feanor was reading his brother's desires correctly. Fingolfin, after all, didn't speak funny the way Feanor did. Nor was he running around with swords, threatening relatives in front of the king and his people. He may have deemed himself a better candidate for kingship than his brother (although there was, at that time, no reason for anyone to be thinking about who should succeed their father). Let the better prince rule was the order of the day, but Fingolfin was apparently no better at avoiding Melkor's manipulations than Feanor. Hence, when Finwe gave up his crown to share Feanor's exile, Fingolfin had no choice but to humbly accept the weighty responsibility of ruling the majority of the Noldor in Tirion.

Ten years of kingship must be a very addicting tenure. Fingolfin might have restored the crown to his father, but he did not wish to give it up to Feanor. When Melkor murdered Finwe, the Noldorin kingship fell into immediate dispute. Though the Valar had not yet restored to him to his place among the Noldor, Feanor entered Tirion and summoned to the Mindon of Finwe. Such a summons was a clear usurpation of royal authority. More infuriatingly, Feanor declared himself the rightful King of the Noldor. Fingolfin had not abdicated his own authority, however temporary that was intended to be. As Finwe had stood before the Tatyar ages before and offered them a new life in Aman, Feanor now stood before the Noldor and made a similar offer of a new life in Middle-earth. The old social structure was rendered meaningless. Fingolfin had to respond to Feanor, but if his hope was to restore Finwe's kingship under his own rule that proved vain. The majority of the Noldor wanted nothing more to do with the Valar and Valinor. Some of them were moved to join the rebellion despite a strong attachment to Valinor. And a small part of the nation refused to accept either Feanor or Fingolfin if they were determined to lead the Noldor into exile, even if Fingolfin only went along just to make sure Feanor didn't get everyone killed.

In the end, Finarfin proved to be the only son of Finwe with any real sense. He apparently never bought into the lies Melkor sowed among the Noldor. Whenever a great liar spreads confusion, there are usually a few people who stay above the discord, and Finarfin was that kind of individual. He, too, tried to persuade the Noldor not to follow Feanor into exile. And like Fingolfin he went along reluctantly mostly because his children wanted to try their luck in Middle-earth, and because he feared what might happen to the people if they were left to the mercies of Feanor's leadership. When the Noldor attacked Alqualonde and the Valar condemned them to a terrible fate, Finarfin quietly withdrew from the rebellion and sought the pardon of the Valar (and, hopefully, the Teleri, his kinsfolk by marriage). In the end, the kingship was bestowed upon Finarfin, whose hands were bloodless and whose heart had the least ambition among the sons of Finwe.

Other members of the Finwean family who have received virtually no attention through the years are Finwe's daughters by Indis. Finwe had daughters? Well, that is what "The Shibboleth of Feanor" tells us. Findis was, in fact, the first-born of the children of Finwe and Indis. She was apparently very much like her mother in temperament. Indis stayed in Tirion when Finwe joined Feanor at Formenos. She played no part in the governance of the Noldor, it would seem, and Findis seems to have stayed close to her mother. When news came of Finwe's death, both Indis and Findis departed and returned to the Vanyar.

Originally, Finwe was to have three daughters by Indis. Christopher Tolkien mentions that, from 1959 through 1968, this was the case in the several genealogies his father prepared for the Finweans. However, the second daughter, Faniel, is never mentioned in "The Shibboleth", and it may be that Tolkien intended to drop her from the family. As provided in the Shibboleth, Irien (originally called Irime, the third daughter) was born between Fingolfin and Finarfin. She was also called Lalwende, and it was this name which was Sindarinized into Lalwen. She and Fingolfin were very close and she accompanied him into exile. We hear nothing more of her, but some people have wondered if Aranwe, the father of Voronwe, might not be Lalwen's husband or son. Presumably, Lalwen settled in Hithlum and may have been slain or captured after the Nirnaeth. And since she was close to Fingolfin, she may have actively supported his claims to the kingship.

Fingolfin asserted his royalty by taking his father's name. Finwe had named all three of his sons after himself: Curufinwe (Feanor), Nolofinwe (Fingolfin), and Aranfine (Finarfin). Fingolfin, it appears, initiated the custom of taking their father's name as a sign of royal authority. Hence, he called himself Finwe Nolofinwe, perhaps during the debate with Feanor in Tirion, more likely after the attack on Alqualonde. The Shibboleth says: "Fingolfin had prefixed the name Finwe to Nolofinwe before the Exiles reached Middle-earth. This was in pursuance of his claim to be the chieftain of all the Noldor after the death of Finwe, and so enraged Feanor that it was no doubt one of the reasons for his treachery in abandoning Fingolfin and the stealing away with all the ships."

Finarfin did not take the name "Finwe". Curiously, the Shibboleth says that Finrod himself created the name "Finwe Arafinwe", or "Finarfin", after the death of Fingolfin, at which time the Noldor became divided into separate kingships. Although this statement would seem to contradict The Silmarillion (which explicitly mentions the kings of the Noldor prior to Fingolfin's death), Tolkien's intentions are not clear. Still, the use of Finwe's name as a prefix became a royal prerogative. At some point, Finwe's name may have become synonymous with the word title of "king", and it would be appropriate to speak of the ruler of the Noldor as The Finwe. After the First Age, Gil-galad would have been the Finwe in Middle-earth.

The wives of Finwe's sons received little attention from Tolkien. Feanor's wife, Nerdanel, was the daughter of a smith named Mahtan in The Silmarillion. Mahtan's family possessed brownish-red hair and he may have been the leader of a community of Noldor who dwelt close to Aule's halls. Nerdanel had a ruddy complexion which her son Caranthir inherited from her. It may be that they were freckled. In a note appended to "The Shibboleth of Feanor", Nerdanel's father is named Aulendur and Urundil, and Aulendur is said to have supplanted Mahtan, which nonetheless was the name Christopher used for him in The Silmarillion. Another name for this character, which Christopher is not sure of, may have been "Sarmo". He wore a copper circlet around his head and was very fond of copper. Maedhros was apparently much like him in temperament and appearance, and also wore a copper circlet. When Feanor became too contentious for Nerdanel to put up with him any more, she returned to her father's house. Aule persuaded Aulendur and his family not to follow Feanor into exile. Nerdanel asked Feanor to leave their youngest sons in Aman, but he refused. She then foresaw that the youngest would never set foot in Middle-earth.

Fingolfin's wife was Anaire. She was a Noldo but all we are told of her is that she was a friend to Earwen (Finarfin's wife) and that she refused to follow Fingolfin into exile "largely because of her friendship with Earwen". Earwen was the daughter of Olwe of Alqualonde. She had silver hair like other members of her family. In an early history of Galadriel published in Unfinished Tales, Tolkien wrote that Finrod "had also from his Telerin mother a love of the sea and dreams of far lands that he had never seen". It is not clear if Earwen was old enough to have been born in Middle-earth, but the text seems to imply that the Teleri of Alqualonde (or at least Earwen) were not wholly alienated from Middle-earth. The Teleri had spent a great deal of time living on the isle of Tol Eressea before Ulmo commanded Osse to teach them the craft of ship-building so they could finally sail to Aman and join the other Eldar there.

Feanor and Nerdanel had seven sons, as The Silmarillion tells us: Maedhros, Maglor, Celegorm, Curufin, Caranthir, Amrod, and Amras. The Shibboleth says their father-names (given in Quenya) were Nelyafinwe ("Finwe Third", as in Finwe III, Finwe the Third), Kanafinwe, Kurufinwe (spelled Curufinwe in The Silmarillion), Morifinwe, Pityafinwe ("Little Finwe"), and Telufinwe ("Last Finwe"). Maedhros is said to be the most handsome of the sons, and Curufin was their father's favorite because he was most like Feanor in spirit and skill. Curufin also resembled his father more closely than the other sons. Their mother-names were Maitimo, Makalaure, Tyelkormo, Atarinke ("Little Father"), Carnistir ("Red Faced"), Ambarusso and Ambarusso. The two Ambarussos were twins and Feanor asked Nerdanel to give one of them a different name. She chose Umbarto ("Fated"), which Feanor changed to Ambarto ("Exalted"), and he gave that name to the youngest.

"The Shibboleth of Feanor" says that Nerdanel asked Feanor to leave her the twins, or at least one of them, when he was preparing to lead the Noldor into exile. He refused, rebuking her for following Aule's advice instead of her husband's will, and Nerdanel foretold that one of the sons would not reach Middle-earth. When Feanor burned the stolen ships at Losgar, he assembled his sons on the shore and only found six of them. Then Ambarussa told him that Ambarto had slept on his ship. "That ship I destroyed first," Feanor replied. "Then right you gave the name to youngest of your children," Ambarussa replied, "and Umbarto The Fated was its true form." An end note says that Ambarussa's name became Amros in Sindarin (not Amrod, as recorded in The Silmarillion). Wherever The Silmarillion speaks of Amrod and Amras after the burning at Losgar, it is more correct to understand that only Amros was present.

Of Feanor and Nerdanel's sons, only three took wives: Maglor, Curufin, and Caranthir. In Note 7 appended to the essay "Of Dwarves and Men" ("The Peoples of Middle-earth", pp. 295-330), Christopher cites a note his father made in 1966 after the second edition of The Lord of the Rings was published. There, Tolkien decided that Celebrimbor (named lord of Eregion in the appendices) must be the son of Curufin, for Maedhros and the twins had no wives. Curufin, inheriting the greatest part of his father's skill among the seven, passed this skill (and presumably much lore) on to Celebrimbor, who disapproved of his father's behavior in Nargothrond. When Celegorm and Curufin were driven out of Nargothrond, Celebrimbor stayed behind. Curufin's wife elected not to follow her husband into exile, so she remained in Aman among the people ruled by Finarfin (and was, therefore, presumably a Noldo). There is no mention of any other grand-children of Feanor and Nerdanel, and the fates of the wives of Maglor and Caranthir are not given.

Fingolfin and Anaire had four children: Findekano (Fingon), Turukano (Turgon), Irisse (Aredhel), and Arakano (Argon). Although Anaire remained in Valinor when Fingolfin went into exile, all their children followed Fingolfin. Fingon led the vanguard of Fingolfin's host, and he rushed to help Feanor's Noldor against the Teleri of Alqualonde when he learned there was a battle at the haven. Turgon led a third of the Noldor of Fingolfin's host, and he was accompanied by his wife Elenwe of the Vanyar. Irisse was close to Turgon as their aunt Irien (Lalwen) was close to Fingolfin. Irisse remained with Turgon's people until she persuaded him to let her visit Fingon in Hithlum. Instead, after leaving Gondolin, she fled from her escort and wandered east into Nan Elmoth. There she married Eol and bore him a son, Maeglin, with whom she returned to Gondolin many years later.

Arakano emerged relatively late, probably after the second edition of The Lord of the Rings was published. He is described as "the tallest of the brothers and the most impetuous". Tolkien found it difficult to assign him a role in the generally complete history, and at first he devised deaths for Arakano in Aman. But eventually Tolkien decided that Fingolfin's host would be attacked by an army of Orcs as the Noldor passed south along the coast of Middle-earth. There Arakano would both distinguish and sacrifice himself for his people:

    When the onset of the Orks caught the host at unawares as they marched southwards and the ranks of the Eldar were giving way, he sprang forward and hewed a path through the foes, daunted by his stature and the terrible light of his eyes, till he came to the Ork-captain and felled him. Then though he himself was surrounded and slain, the Orks were dismayed, and the Noldor pursued them with slaughter.

Arakano's name was thus never formally changed into Sindarin, "but the Sindarin form Argon was often later given as a name by Noldor and Sindar in memory of his valour" ("Peoples of Middle-earth", p. 345).

Fingon was also impetuous. He not only rushed to Feanor's aid, he led the counter assaults against Morgoth's forces, whenever Hithlum was attacked. And when Gwindor led his company of Nargothrondian soldiers against Morgoth's army at the Nirnaeth, Fingon could no longer contain himself. Instead of waiting for Maedhros, as he should, he donned his helmet, mounted his horse, and charged off toward glory, death, and defeat. Fingon was undoubtedly one of the greatest warriors of the Eldar, for it required more than one Balrog to slay him in the end, and his recorded personal accomplishments on the field of battle out-numbered those of other Elven princes.

Turgon was undoubtedly the wisest of Fingolfin's children, and for a reason not disclosed he was one of Ulmo's favorites among the Noldorin princes. It may be that, since Turgon took up rule over the Sindarin Elves of Nevrast, Ulmo felt Turgon would be most sympathetic to the sea. In the end, Turgon was the only Noldorin king to commission the building of ships for the purpose of seeking aid from Aman. The Shibboleth records that Turgon's wife, Elenwe, perished in the Helcaraxe. She and their daughter, Itaril, fell and Turgon rescued Itaril but Elenwe was crushed by falling ice. It would appear, from a cryptic remark in the Shibboleth, that Irisse and Elenwe were very close friends.

When Fingolgin named Findekano, he did not necessarily use the stem for "Finwe", an ancient Elvish name given at a time when names were bestowed for the way they sounded. Nor, the Shibboleth tells us, would it have been necessary. The use of a similar word honored the ancestral name. Findekano is described as wearing "his long dark hair in great plaits braided with gold". Tolkien was of several minds about Findekano's personal life. Although The Silmarillion tells us that Gil-galad was his son, Christopher Tolkien admits in both The War of the Jewels and The Peoples of Middle-earth that he was in error when he incorporated Gil-galad into the book as Fingon's son. Christopher mentions that all the genealogical tables provide Fingon with an unnamed wife and two children: Ernis (later Erien) and Finbor. But this family was stricken from the final genealogy and Tolkien wrote a note saying Fingon "had no child or wife".

It would undoubtedly have been necessary to construe some depressing fate for both Erien and Finbor, as Finbor would have to be Fingon's heir. It served Tolkien's purpose to move Gil-galad to the family of Finarfin. Hence, the High Kingship passed from the childless Fingon to Turgon, and then from Fingolfin's family (the male line of which ended with Turgon) to Finarfin's.

The children of Finarfin and Earwen were Findarato Ingoldo (Finrod), Angarato (Angrod), Aikanaro (Aegnor), and Newende Artanis (later called Altariel, Galadriel). The Silmarillion places Orodreth (Artaher or Arothir) among Finarfin's sons, but the final decision was to make him the son of Angrod and Eldalote (Eþellos, Edhellos in Sindarin). She was a Noldo, and Arothir was born in Aman. The Silmarillion says that Orodreth stood beside Finarfin in pleading with the Noldor not to follow Feanor into exile. It would not be entirely inconsistent with the final genealogy for Arothir to retain that role. He was a reluctant warrior-king, and only gradually allowed himself to be swayed by Turin's aggressive policies.

Tolkien's final decision on Finrod is puzzling. In August 1965, he wrote a brief explanation of Gil-galad's descent. The text says "Finrod left his wife in Valinor and had no children in exile". Finrod's (here unnamed) wife must be Amarie of the Vanyar. But the sentence could mean one of three things: that Finrod and Amarie had children who remained in Valinor, that they had no children, or that they had children after he was restored to life by the Valar. It is tempting to rationalize the claim of Gildor Inglorion, whom Frodo, Sam, and Pippin meet in the Shire, with this rather ambiguous statement. That is, Gildor told Frodo that he was "of the house of Finrod". So far as we know, there was only one Finrod. Originally, the name Finrod had been given to the father, and the prince who founded the realm of Nargothrond was named Inglor. But while revising The Lord of the Rings for the second edition, Tolkien changed Finrod to Finarphir (later it became Finarphin, Finarfin) and Inglor to Finrod. But he did not change Gildor's name.

If Gildor is truly a descendant of Finrod, he must have been born in Valinor. But if that is the case, how did he arrive in Middle-earth, and when? Tolkien seems to have overlooked Gildor completely. And people are quick to point out that Gildor names himself an Exile (or, rather, he says, "We are Exiles"). How could Gildor be an Exile if he was born after Finrod was restored to life? The answer to that question is simple: any of the children of the Noldor who went into exile, and who were living in Middle-earth, would be Exiles (a sub-group of the Noldor) as much as they were still Noldor. Yet there is no text which associates Gildor with the renamed Finrod/Finarfin or the renamed Inglor/Finrod (other than his own name, which means "scion of Inglor").

A further difficulty arising from connecting Gildor with Finrod is that, if he were alive in Middle-earth when Gil-galad perished, should he not have been eligible to claim the High Kingship over the Noldor? It may be that such a claim would be deemed invalid, since the kingship had passed to the Orodreth's line (just as it had passed from Feanor's line to Fingolfin's and then to Finarfin's). The kingship could go down but not up. Yet that is unsatisfying. It could also be that Gildor would have arrived with one of the Istari, although only Glorfindel is said to have ever arrived in Middle-earth after the Downfall of Numenor. In fact, there is a associated with the Shibboleth which states that "little has been ever heard in Middle-earth of Aman after the departure of the Noldor. Those who returned thither have never come back, since the change of the world. To Numenor in its first days they went often, but small part of the lore and histories of Numenor survived its Downfall."

Here again we have a frustratingly ambiguous statement. "Those who returned [to Aman] have never come back, since the change of the world." What is the change of the world, however, if not the event where Iluvatar made the world round, removing Aman from the circles and destroying Numenor? The following sentence seems to imply that the Noldor (of Tol Eressea) only sailed as far east as Numenor in its early years. Still, the passage does not completely rule out the possibility of an eastward passage by someone of a younger generation. In fact, in one of his final notes on Glorfindel, Tolkien decided that he had indeed returned to Middle-earth by way of Numenor in the middle of the Second Age, when Gil-galad was preparing for Sauron's assault in the 17th century (the War of the Elves and Sauron lasted from 1695 to 1701).

Whatever Gildor's true relationship to the Finweans may be, he cannot be a descendant of Finwe who passed into exile with Feanor and Fingolfin. Nor can he be a son of Finrod born in Middle-earth. If he is a descendant of Finrod, though he might originally have been a son of Finrod, his name as preserved in the canon of The Lord of the Rings implies there must be an Inglor, who could perhaps be a son of Finrod and Amarie born in Valinor after Finrod was restored to life. But such speculations, lacking any textual support, go no further.

Galadriel's history is as convoluted and puzzling as Gildor's ancestry. Tolkien changed her history more than once, and in doing so altered her relationships with both Celebrimbor and Celeborn. Celeborn was originally a Wood Elf, but in time he was changed to a Sindarin Elf related to Elwe through a younger brother Elmo. Yet, in the last year of his life, Tolkien decided that Celeborn should be a grandson of Olwe, born in Alqualonde. It seems that Tolkien had forgotten about the ancient (in terms of his life) Eldarin restriction against marriage between first cousins (which principle is referred to in the story of Maeglin, although as published in The Silmarillion that story is mostly the work of Christopher's editing and compression of older materials).

Nonetheless, we can be sure that Galadriel was a daughter of Finarfin and Earwen, and that she was never on good terms with Feanor. Nonetheless, she shared Finrod's dreams of other lands, and she was ambitious. She wished to rule her own realm. Regardless of whether she followed Feanor into exile or (as is told in the late story from 1972) preceded him with Celeborn, Galadriel was swept up into the doom of the Noldor. Like her people, she was forbidden to return to Aman. It also remains certain that Galadriel somehow became closely associated with Melian in Doriath for a time, and that she and Celeborn passed over the Ered Lindon before Nargothrond and Gondolin were destroyed.

Galadriel's departure from Beleriand is not mentioned in The Silmarillion. I suspect it would have occurred sometime between the Dagor Bragollach (455) and the Nirnaeth Arnoediad (473). Many northern Sindar fled east over Ered Lindon during or immediately following the Dagor Bragollach. The best opportunity for Galadriel and Celeborn to leave would be when these Sindar were forsaking the war. Galadriel and Celeborn would have been welcomed among them, and Galadriel's disapproval of the Noldorin policies may have induced her to get out of Beleriand while the getting was good.

Angarato (Angrod) brought his wife, Eldalote, and son, Arothir (Orodreth), into exile. They settled in Dorthonion with Aikanaro (Aegnor), who never married. Angrod possessed great strength and he earned the epesse (a nickname) "Angamaite" (iron-handed). Angrod perished in the Dagor Bragollach, but Arothir escaped and fled south to join Finrod in Nargothrond.

Aikanaro (Aegnor) is said to have been "renowned as one of the most valiant of the warriors, greatly feared by the Orks: in wrath or battle the light of his eyes was like flame, though otherwise he was a generous and noble spirit. But in early youth the fiery light could be observed; while his hair was notable: golden like his brothers and sister, but strong and stiff, rising upon his head like flames." Aegnor took no wife, but it emerges in "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" ("Morgoth's Ring") that he fell in love with Andreth, a Beorian wise woman, while she was quite young. And though he wished to marry her, he had apparently confided in Finrod (or Finrod understood implicitly) that he had foreseen his own death in battle, and he did not wish to leave her widowed, or any children she might bear him orphaned. Andreth grew quite old and may have lived until the Dagor Bragollach, although her death date is not recorded.

The Finwean genealogy winds down to a few stray names in the following generations: Celebrimbor, son of Curufin; Idril (Itaril), daughter of Turgon; Arothir (Orodreth), son of Angrod and Eldalote; and Celebrian, daughter of Galadriel and Celeborn. Idril married Tuor and bore a son, Earendil. She was wise enough to foresee the need of a hidden escape path out of Gondolin, and her hair was as golden as her Vanyarin mother's hair. Arothir (Orodreth) remained close by Finrod and was among the few nobles who supported Finrod when he felt compelled to repay his debt to Beren. Finrod made Arothir his steward in Nargothrond, and when word came of Finrod's death, Arothir drove Celegorm and Curufin out of the kingdom.

Arothir married a northern Sindarin lady, although her name is not recorded. Their children were Ereinion (scion of kings) and Finduilas. Finduilas was golden-haired, and Arothir himself must have been golden-haired. Although she loved Gwindor, when she met Turin she could not help but fall for him. And yet Turin did not return her feelings. Finduilas was taken prisoner when Nargothrond fell to Glaurung and his Orcs, but the Orcs slew her and other prisoners when they were waylaid by Men from Brethil.

Ereinion escaped the sack of Nargothrond and made his way south to the Mouths of Sirion. From there he reached Cirdan on the isle of Balar, and when word came of Gondolin's fall Ereinion was named High King of the Noldor-in-Exile. His mother named him Gil-galad.

The royal authority of Finwe ended with Gil-galad. But the ambitions of the Finwean princes appear to have stopped with Gil-galad as well. For though he established a mighty kingdom in Lindon which lasted more than 3,000 years, he apparently took no wife. Earendil left Middle-earth forever, and the ambitions of his ancestors seem to have been realized only by his son Elros, who when given a choice between mortality and Elvendom elected to become the first King of Numenor but mortal. His brother Elrond chose to be of Elven-kind but never established his own kingdom. He governed Imladris as an outpost of Gil-galad's kingdom in the Second Age and maintained it as a stronghold of Eldarin power in the Third Age. But Elrond never took the title of king. It may be that, legally, he felt he could not claim a kingship, since Earendil was the son of a mortal man and not an Elf king.

But perhaps Elrond recognized that the time of the Elvish Finweans had come and gone. For four thousand years they ruled mighty kingdoms in Middle-earth, and defied their enemies. Despite their faults, the Finweans imparted great wisdom to Men, and through Idril's marriage to Tuor they bestowed an ancient and noble heritage upon the lordly houses of Numenor and its successor realms. As the Eldarin princes vanished, one by one, their Numenorean cousins ascended to center stage and assumed the central role in the ongoing play of Middle-earth's history.

    Michael Martinez is the author of Visualizing Middle-earth, which may be purchased directly from Xlibris Corp. or through any online bookstore. You may also special order it from your local bookstore. The ISBN is 0-7388-3408-4.

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