So... A giant spider fell on your face when you were a child? And you weren't traumatized by it?
*proceeds to write about a giant spider bigger than anyone could imagine that eats trees and destroys things and is the ultimate nightmare,which has descendants that are smaller but still large enough to trap a fully-grown man with ease*
Over the last week I’ve been working on this, my biggest and hardest commission so far, but I did learn a lot. Fingon and Maedhros as friends before it all began. This was commissioned by @maedhrosrussandol and I am very happy with how it turned out! ☺️
The word used to refer to them in The Silmarillion, ‘Sindar’ (sing. Sinda), meaning grey-elves, was not their native word for themselves. It was a name the Noldor gave to all the Telerin inhabitants of Beleriand who spoke the Sindarin language. It’s not even a Sindarin word – it comes from the Noldor’s language Quenya instead. The Noldorin loremasters did not have a consensus about how the word Sindar was coined (meaning Tolkien had several explanations he came up with and never settled on one ‘true’ answer), but it might have been the silver hair some of them had, or a reference to their king Thingol’s name (‘Grey-cloak’), or the grey cloaks the Mithrim Sindar wore.
The Noldor needed to invent such a name because the Sindar did not originally have a word that referred to themselves as a distinct cultural group. The Sindar did not even have a word for their own language other than ‘elvish’. Tolkien explains that “the Elves of Beleriand were isolated, without contact with any other people, Elvish or of other kind; and they were all of one clan and language: Telerin (or Lindarin). Their own language was the only one that they ever heard; and they needed no word to distinguish it, nor to distinguish themselves…After the Vanyar, Noldor and the rest of the Teleri sailed to Valinor, the remaining elves of Beleriand thought of themselves as the only elves left in Middle Earth, and called themselves simply Edhil (sing. Edhel), which means Elves.” (Which is a very curious world view, since this completely ignores the fact that the Avari and the Nandor were still kicking around to the east and later migrated into Beleriand).
This attitude would have become obsolete when the Noldor returned to Middle-earth and the Sindar were no longer the only group of elves around. So what was their own equivalent term for Sindar? How would a Sindarin speaking elf refer to the community of Sindarin speaking elves in their own language?
At first I thought they might have revived an older name from before the division of the elves leaving for Valinor and those remaining in Beleriand. The first self-given name we have for the Third Clan comes from Cuivienen: “The oldest of these names was Lindar, which certainly goes back to days before the Separation…It is thus to the love of the Nelyar for song, for vocal music with or without the use of articulate words, that the name Lindar originally referred.”
But this is not our answer: “The descendant of the old clan name *Lindai (Q Lindar) had fallen out of normal use, being no longer needed in a situation where all the Edhil were of the same kind…[t]he old clan-name *Lindai survived in the compound Glinnel, pl. Glinnil, a word only known in historical lore, and the equivalent of Quenya Teleri or Lindar.”
Then perhaps the Sindar coined a new name for themselves that meant 'all the Sindarin speakers’?
They did - sort of- have such a Sindarin word, but we are immediately told that it was not used in that context: “Eglan, pl. Eglain, Egladrim. This name, 'the Forsaken’, was, as has been said, given by the Sindar to themselves. But it was not in Beleriand a name for all the Elves who remained there. It applied only to those who wished to depart, and waited long in vain for the return of Ulmo, taking up their abode on or near the coasts. There they became skilled in the building and management of ships. Cirdan was their lord.” So using Eglain would only be accurate when referring to the Falathrim, the elves of the Falas.
I’ve looked through all the texts I have, and can find no trace of another candidate Sindarin word. If it exists, it may be in some linguistic journal I don’t have access to. Tolkien loved making names, and he loved the elves, and thus we have entire lists of names for the different types of elves. We have a frankly ridiculous amount of them, in both early and late linguistic sources, and I can’t find a single one seems to be one the Sindarin word for ‘Sindar’.
But in-universe, if such a name was in popular use, then it ought to have been recorded somewhere and its omission from the historical record points toward the idea that it did not exist or was only used academically.
So if the Sindar neither resurrected an older name, nor created a new one, then what happened?
I see here two main possibilities:
1. Adoption of Sindar: Instead of creating a new name to describe the community of Sindarin speakers, the Sindar simply adopted the name the Noldor called them as their own. The explanations of how ‘Sindar’ arose among the Noldor elves are either factual or flattering and that might have attracted Sindarin adoption to fill the terminology gap. They may have translated ‘Sindar’ into the Sindarin, rather than Quenya form, in which case they would have called themselves the Thindrim (sing. Thend).
2. They didn’t want one: Based on their experiences in Valinor, it was the Noldor who assumed that using the same language meant having a shared identity. The Sindar may have rejected the idea of ‘all the Sindarin speakers’ being a cohesive cultural group that needed a name. The divisions between them were deeper, in their eyes, then their linguistic similarity, and they continued to use local group names. In other words, the Sindar did not give themselves a collective name because they didn’t see anything united enough to name.
This seems to have been the pre-Noldor consensus anyway:
“…people were more aware of the growing differences in speech and other matters between those sections of the Elves that lived in widely sundered parts of a large and mostly pathless land. They were thus in ordinary speech all Edhil, but some belonged to one region and some to another: they were Falathrim from the sea-board of West Beleriand, or lathrim from Doriath (the land of the Fence, or iath), or Mithrim who had gone north from Beleriand and inhabited the regions about the great lake that afterwards bore their name. (Note 11, p. 410)…All the Sindarin subjects of King Elu-Thingol, as distinguished from the incoming Noldor, were sometimes later called the Eluwaith.”
Which leads us to option three:
3. All of the above. The Sindar may have taken both options, leading to Complicated Naming Politics.
Language was already a political litmus test in First Age Beleriand because of Thingol’s ban on speaking Quenya. The friendlier you were with the Noldor, the more likely it might have been for you to call yourself one of the Sindar. The Sindar who were in close contact with the Noldor and who were more or less living side by side, like the Mithrim, would have adopted the term Sindar. The Iathrim would unequivocally have rejected a term coined by their rivals, and continued to use Iathrim or Edhil. Calling yourself one of the Eluwaith may have been a particularly political statement, since it hinges on identifying yourself through political allegiance rather than geography. The Falathrim and the rest of the Sindarin speakers could have gone either way, and may have used different terms based on the situation and who they were talking to. The Falathrim probably continued to use Eglain to describe themselves as well, adding to the complexity.
Everything changes in the Second Age.
The political and cultural chessboard has been upended; entire kingdoms and peoples have been wiped out.Those who survived ended up living in kingdoms with mixed populations. Most of the ways the Sindar used to identify themselves are obsolete. All of the geographic terms are useless, since the entire continent of Beleriand is underwater, but elves may have continued using them out of habit or for political reasons. The Sindar living in Noldor-led kingdoms probably gradually switch to calling themselves ‘Sindar’, while the Sindar elves in Lothlorien and Greenwood who had anti-Noldorin leaders did not.
In this period, I think the Sindar elves’ feelings may have changed about seeing themselves as a coherent cultural group. Now that they live side by side with other groups of elves, instead of focusing on their divisions, the great loss of life and land may have led the Sindar to see themselves as people who shared more culturally then they differed. I think they became more receptive to seeing themselves as one culture and one people, and to using Sindar as a term to describe that.
By the Third Age, after the elvish population has suffered two great wars and the collapse of most of the ancient kingdoms, and is still shrinking as remaining elves sail west, the divisions are nearly a moot point. Sindar is the prevailing term with a few holdouts in the east.
Bonus: Names for the Teleri and the Nandor
Notes on Teleri: I’ve looked really hard, but I can’t find a self-given name for the Teleri. I thought Falmari might be the answer, but no, this is directly said to be a name the Noldor called them (with a possible Telerin form of Fallinel).
The closest I’ve come is this quote: “The Teleri had little interest in linguistic lore, which they left to the Noldor. They did not regard their language as a ‘dialect’ of Quenya, but called it Lindarin or Lindalambe,” suggesting that Lindar would be an acceptable word for them to use for themselves. In Telerin, the equivalent form is Lindai.
Nandor: This one was the easiest because Tolkien answered it directly, “but this people still called themselves by the old clan-name *Lindai, which had at that time taken the form Lindi in their tongue.”
(Source: War of the Jewels, “Part Four. Quendi and Eldar”)
PREVIOUSLY: Once upon a time the One God created helper spirits and they worked together to create the planet and then God woke up the Elves and the helper spirits invited them to live on the West side of the planet. Most of the Elves agreed to go and started building cities and making cool smithing things. The smartest of the Elves made the shiniest rocks ever out of some holy light and Fantasy Lucifer stole them and fucked off to Middle-Earth, which got a whole lot of Elves riled up and stormed after him and a bunch of them in particular were bound by an Oath they swore to get them back at any cost, including a whole lot of murder. They were not well-liked because of this, but since they were fighting Fantasy Satan, you kind of had to work with them. Mostly. But still. They fucked up a lot of things for a lot of people.
This post grew triple in size when I went back to add in a little more, which will not always be the case, some of these are going to be short and snappy, dammit!, but Elrond was one of the reasons I wanted to do this, so, you know, let me sum up the horror that is Elrond’s life! And by “sum up”, I mean “just assume I’m crying about it as I type this”.
(p.s. please know none of this is in order other than, “so what Elf do I want to cry about next?” as this is aimed at explaining connections between them rather than telling the story of the Silmarillion in order. I’m not quite that far down the rabbit hole, dammit.)
So. Elrond. The story of Elrond’s life is basically this: He and his twin brother were born in Middle-Earth, late in the First Age (which was about 6,500 years ago) to parents named Earendil and Elwing. Now, their mother (Elwing) has posession of a Silmaril because it’s been passed down through her family (long story, but basically her ancestors wrested one of them away from Morgoth and it caused a lot of death and murder, but they kept it because a) they’re literally sacred so people have a hard time parting with them apparently and b) they felt FUCK THE FEANORIANS because of all the murder and death they caused they no longer have a right to them), which is why eventually the Feanorians are going to have to say, “Give it back or we’ll be forced to attack you.” because the Oath allows no less from them.
The Silmaril is holy to these Elves so they won’t give it up and the Feanorians attack the city that bb!Elrond and bb!Elros are living in that their parents are lords of. They’re descended from royalty on both sides, which is usually probably pretty neat, but I imagine it’s less neat when the Feanorians come calling and you’ve got a giant target on your back. Elwing (their mother) manages to escape with the Silmaril (if this sounds familiar, SHHHH WE WILL COME BACK TO THAT LATER) but Elrond and Elros were either left behind or probably assumed dead (which was a reasonable assumption because of context) but instead were captured by Maedhros and Maglor (first and second sons of Feanor) and taken away from there and raised by those dirty rotten no good Feanorians. Eventually, though, Maglor came to love them so dearly and so he set them free.
We know very little about what actually happened during this time, but you’ll pry some headcanons from my cold dead hands. (Ie, that because Elves VERY FIRMLY LOVE THEIR CHILDREN, look, this is fantasy, certain things can be true across the board like that, so of course Maglor loved them and they loved him and I just imagine that it was tears all the way around when they had to be sent away because People Were Looking For Them, another surprising downside of being royalty!)
We don’t know how long Elrond and Elros stayed with them, it could have been a year or two or twenty or possibly more (probably less than that, though? it’s hard to know because they’re Half-Elven children) or how specifically involved Maedhros or Maglor were in their lives, but given the tragedy of the whole situation, it’s a lot more deliciously ouchy if you go with the idea that Elrond and Elros came to love them in return and were heartbroken at having to struggle with loving the Feanorians and the horrible things they did. It’s even more deliciously ouchy when you know that we don’t know if Maglor ever actually died, because he just sort of wandered off to walk along the shoreline and he might still be OUT THERE and Elrond has to deal with knowing his foster-father might be out there and can’t find him, wouldn’t even know how to handle bringing him someplace safe because too many Elves would be too angry at Maglor, and yet MAGLOR RAISED AND LOVED HIM??? So, pain all the way around. That’s Elrond’s life.
Happy Freya’s Day! Fight with ferocity, love with ferocity, live with ferocity. Art by Rowye on deviantart. Check out my #etsyshop full of #handmade #soy candles by me, with Viking themes. Link in bio. #shieldmaiden #valkyrie #viking #vikings #warrior #madeinusa #soycandles #norse #odin #freya #thor #liberty #freedom #loki #etsy #etsyseller #handpoured #lotr #tolkien #got #norseman #shieldmaidencandleworks #lagertha #ragnar #daenerystargaryen #daenerys
23 days left until Christmas!
Today’s riddle is:
What is “Dúrin’s Bane”?
a) the drums in the deep
b) the Balrog
c) the Orcs who attacked the Dwarves
#jrr #jrrt #tolkien #jrrtolkien #tolkienist #thehobbit #hobbit #fotr #lotr #ttt #rotk #lordoftherings #thetwotowers #returnofthekings #thefellowshipofthering #middle-earth #middleearth #thesilmarillion #silmarillion #talesfromtheperilousrealm #Christmas #adventskalender #advent #weihnachten #herrderringe #theonering #xmas #rätsel #tolkienriddle #Durin #durinsbane
I wish it need not happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
I don’t think there’s any quote more suitable for today (9 November 2016)