Greetings, and this week we are wrapping up the discussion of Nature of Middle-earth with Section 3: The World its Lands and its inhabitants. Here, Tolkien discusses mainly the environmental factors and the landmarks of the regions in Middle-earth. Unlike the first two sections which focus on the personhood of the characters, this would focus on the outer world and traditions of the characters and many of the lands discussed in Lord of the Rings. However, it still includes sprinkles of discussion on languages.
The video would mainly focus on the former – the different environments in the lands of Middle-earth. Future videos may cover some of the lands and inhabitants more in-depth. The Lives of the Númenoreans will be discussed more in-depth in this post soon, and a second video next time.
The World of Middle-earth
The Lives of the Númenoreans
The World Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 1: Dark and Light
This chapter includes a Middle-earth solar system – which would be his view of the galaxy that the Middle-earth Legendarium would be a part of. However, for some it may seem that the system wasn’t exactly accurate in an astronomical or scientific sense making it not as carefully done than his other aspects such as language.
But there are many reasons he didn’t want it to be the same as a solar system, including his disdain for allegory. Thus, he may have believed that the scope for this wasn’t – or didn’t need to be as clear as the scope of the languages, which was what he was mainly driven by when he wrote Lord of the Rings. It is also important to note that this book involves a lot of unfinished writings and thoughts, and this could be one of them.
In text 1A, however, Tolkien describes the Quendian imagination of the shape of Arda as “astronomical and scientific but crossed with a mythological or poetic talent.” Looking at this, he could be wanting to sort of weave in the tone of his mythology into many creations, the solar system included. But that’s just what I take with it…nevertheless, he also introduces words for light, dark, and twilight, just to name a few. These words are governed by this Quendian imagination.
- The ordinary word for night: fuin, and phuine would be ‘light substance’ – this they thought of as substances which gave light.
The World Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 2: The Primal Impulse
Now, we get to explore what the spirits are made up of. So it starts with erma, a ‘prime substance,’ and the beginning of a living thing consists of that and nassi ‘materials.’ This is called the primal impulse, or the Great Pattern. Then he starts getting into the music, or Ainulindalë.
The World Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 3: Powers of the Valar
The Valar experience what he describes as a “corporeal life.” However, it is made clear that they were not responsible for the prime substance ‘erma,’ which came from Eru. The Valar had complete understanding of this. But they would be able to be called on for their expertise of a specific craft.
Out of the Valar, Manwë was the most powerful, as he had the greatest knowledge. He had very few things he would call a mystery to him – especially in terms of lore and arts.
Melkor (Melcor) however had an intense desire to create new and strange things. He had this desire within Eä. But he always wanted to change them to not suit what the Valar had in mind. So we can think of it as, whatever the Valar wanted, he wanted the opposite. This was also because as we may know from the Silmarillion, Melcor wanted to do everything that was against Ilúvatar.
The World Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 4: The making of Lembas
This phenomenon (ha) came from Elvish legend, and text 2 was a more detailed description of text 1. So this making of “waybread,” was taught by Oromë, one of the Valar – who was brought as a gift from Manwë to the three Elderwomen of the Elves.
It was made from wheat-corn, though this diminished in virtue on the Great Journey due to the dim sunlight. There was none left when they went to Beleriand, but the Noldor brought them new ones. Galadriel was one of the chief inheritors of this waybread – so after her departure and Arwen’s death, this waybread was lost forever in Middle-earth.
The World Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 5: Note on Elvish Economy
The Sindar had no need to practice agriculture until the departure of some of the other Eldar.
- Food: was provided for all the Eldar, but not without labor
- Grain: self-sown and only needed gathering and scattering (the tithing of 1/10 to Yavanna – this could be a reference to tithing). This grain later was used to make Lembas as we discussed in the previous chapter.
The Dwarves had an agriculture, especially in early times when they couldn’t buy grain. Thus they had invented a plough of some sort. There was also a woodland realm in he Kingdom of Doriath, which had just a little open ground.
It is also important to note that the Eldar weren’t exactly ignorant of these things especially in the Common Eldarin Period; they’d sort of developed it later to their own skill. Oromë’s teachings helped them greatly improve this skill.
This sounds to me like they were entrusted to it…gee, what a time to be an elf haha.
The World Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 6: Dwellings in Middle-earth
As mentioned in the previous section, ambar, the Eldarin term, means ‘settlement,’ and words in the same root, such as umbar, and terms with the archaic mar, such as Ingwemar, Valimar, Eldamar (the latter of which is a family unit or permanent building). Eldamar was later translated Elvenhome.
The Quenya and Sindarin terms respectively, ambar and amar, also had the similar tone of settlement. This was due to what Tolkien describes as “the coalescence in form of Sindarin of mbar and ambar.” In Section 2, it mainly described the idea of settling on an abode. Here, we notice that it expands on what was given to us in Section 2. And umbar, which is a decision and the fixed arrangements and circumstances.
Only in Gondolin (a secret city), the art of the Exiles were fully employed in house building, though the Noldor generally built family houses and established communities. The men who entered Beleriand and allies adopted the same customs.
The World Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 7: The founding of Nargothrond
This started the mentioning of the Sindarin stem philig-, which was more for specific places in Beleriand. This also came from King Finrod Felagund which meant ‘den-dweller,’ ‘brock,’ or ‘badger.’ He was visited by dark forebodings and the wisest, and not only that, he had the most forethought compared to the chieftains of the Noldor – knowing what would eventually happen to Morgoth (Melcor).
The World Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 8: Manwë’s Ban
This chapter I didn’t have a strong issue with, but it was more so of wondering whether it was conflicting of my vision of what Valinor would look like. However, I later saw that while exiles went to Eressëa, they were still able to visit Valinor.
Initially for the restoration of the Elves due to grave reason such as very evil deeds, Glorfindel was banned – which meant that they were not able to return to bodily form to the Blessed Realm.
Additionally, those who left Middle-earth didn’t go to Valinor, but went to a special region in Eressëa. But they were allowed to visit Valinor. The lifting of the ban was therefore determined in certain cases by Eru, though he determined the ban was just. This was commonly exaggerated and misrepresented – but could seem severe on the Noldor and a great loss to some of the other Elves.
The World Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 9: Elvish Journeys on Horseback
Compared to Men, for example, Elves were faster, though Tolkien notes a particular journey of Eöl, who seemed like he could call the shots and choose the speed.
The World Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 10: Rider to “The White Rider”
This was in Lord of the Rings Ch. 5, “The White Rider.”
The World Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 11: Lives of the Númenoreans
When the Valar offered them reward at the fall of Thangorodrim, the Edain wanted Long Life and Peace. The prayer he made led to a longer lifespan. Elros was treated specially – resulting in a longer lifespan for him than for other Númenoreans of 500 years, compared to 350-420 years of a typical Númenorean. They seem to have lived about 3-5x as long as Middle-earth men, though their lifespan depended on either their free will or if something occurs, like an illness.
The downfall of Númenor occurred which was marked by “clinging to life,” and the shrinking of a natural lifespan.
They are also not of uniform racial descent – with the main division being between the “House of Hador” and the “House of Bëor.” They had shorter lifespans, of 350 years or less – compared to the 350-420 years we see earlier. Nearly all of them were bilingual – with two main languages, Sindarin and Númenórean (or Adûnayân), the latter of which is later called Westron in Lord of the Rings. However, the natures of the two languages changed with time. Númenor was a land of peace.
The World Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 12: The Ageing of Númenoreans
The Line of Elros, which was mentioned in Unfinished Tales, was mentioned greatly but not explicitly described as it was in UT. In p. 227 in my text, the laws of succession was shown. This was important for the history of the Second Age. In both chapters 11 and 12, however, it is mentioned that the Númenoreans typically had one life partner – which was by (either physical or moral) law, unless something pops up.
The World Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 13: Of the land and beasts of Númenor
This chapter discusses the men and animals, and the different creatures that were based in Númenor. However, it was mainly focused on the animals. It rounds off describing what is called the Days of the Bliss of Númenor, which highlights much of why I take issue with the time compression that LOTRon Prime seems to be doing. As the whole span was 2000 years – with the first hints occurring before that, and they were to defend the Elves and Men of the West, with their victory being the herald of their downfall.
The World Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 14: Note on the Consumption of Mushrooms
This chapter highlights much of what is covered in the section of Unfinished Tales about the Druedain and the Hobbits – showing how alike they are (but still different). They knew as much about “growing things,” which (it seems) Tolkien like to refer to trees and greenery as.
The World Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 15: The Númenorean Catastrophe and end of “physical” Aman
Aman was physical – as you may remember that it meant the “blessed realm.” It could not be removed, unless it was part of Arda (Middle-earth) or a new satellite. Tolkien even points out the reference to America with this realm, therefore calling it a physical landmass.
Manwë decided that it is not the one that is free of death – but hallowed by the alar. So thus, it is just an ordinary land with Aman and Eressëa being the memory of the Valar and Elves “of the former land,” which could mean Middle-earth.
Then, Tolkien poses a question:
He gives us a few possibilities:
- The Catastrophe as a Divine Intervention of Eru, foreseeing the end of Arda and sensing a change of the initial plan
- Elves are dying (wow! We all know they are immortal…)
- Melkor only really becomes evil inside Eä after its achievement which he played a great and powerful part, when he was a mighty one.
The Worlds Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 16: Galadriel and Celeborn
This chapter highlights the beginnings of Galadriel, Celeborn, and Amroth.
Galadriel and Celeborn maintained a friendship with the Dwarves of Moria. They had access to the great Nandorin Realm on the other side – which later became Lórien.
In S.R. 1200, Sauron visited the Elves, but was rejected by Gil-galad. Then he was rejected by Galadriel and Celeborn in Eregion. Eventually he was successful in the Noldor of Eregion with Celebrimbor. However, after Celebrimbor notices the designs of Sauron, Sauron invaded Eriador and besieged Eregion, and later invaded the latter. Celebrimbor was slain by Sauron – but Sauron didn’t get the Three Rings, further incurring his wrath.
Galadriel wanted freedom, so she fought with the sons of Fëanor in Aqualonde. This led her to exile. Before this, she often visited the Teleri, as her mother was sister of Olwë and Elwë. Her going to exile was a result of being proud and rebellious. Later, we see the roots of their names.
The Worlds Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 17: Silvan Elves and Silvan Elvish
If you were confused by the slight mentioning of “Silvan Elvish” in the previous chapter, this is the one to go to as it will discuss a little on Silvan Elves. It seems to be an earlier form of Sindarin.
The Worlds Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 18: Note on the Delay of Gil-galad and the Númenóreans
This was from before Sauron could gather his forces. The Orcs, who were creatures of Morgoth, were the most numerous, yet they still were destroyed in the war against Morgoth and in Beleriand’s destruction. Some of the remnants escaped to hidings – in which they weren’t allowed out. The Eastern Orcs weren’t subservient to Sauron nor had they experienced the power and the terror of the Eldar.
The Worlds Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 19: Note on Dwarvish Voices
Tolkien starts by noting that the Dwarves simply could not be made poor linguists – but were they ever viewed as such? Anyways – this was because they were very interested in languages, but they couldn’t conceal their voices.
However, as we may have mentioned (or not?) in the LOTR Appendices, the Sindar invented the Cirth (in Beleriand) and spread a simple form of it to the Dwarves. This doesn’t exaggerate Dwarvish linguistic abilities.
The Worlds Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 20: Note on the Dwarf Road
This was part of Tolkien’s linguistic papers on the Dwarf road Menn-i-Naugrim – made by the Longbeard Dwarves of Moria and their kin in the Iron Hills. The bridges and the first miles were made in the First Age, and this was completed early Second Age. There was a lot of traffic until the forging of the Great Ring (later, The One Ring) and a war between Sauron, and the Elves and their Númenórean Allies – the latter whom the Dwarves joined as they were close with the Noldor of Eregion. Sauron’s power wasn’t fully grown and he invaded Eriador from the south, but the North wasn’t affected.
The Worlds Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 21: From the Hunt of the Ring
This was written after the publication of the first volume of Lord of the Rings, and Christopher Tolkien published it as the “Hunt for the Ring” in Unfinished Tales. This chapter describes two dates – September 24 and 25, 3018 where Frodo is faced by two Nazgul, E (Khamûl) and F (unknown).
The Worlds Its Lands and Its Inhabitants Chapter 22: The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor
This was previously published in Vinyar Tengwar, and primarily concerns the use of “Glanduin” in LOTR App. A.