Eärendil was a mariner – haha. (It was later the first line in the Song of Eärendil written by Bilbo Baggins.)
But a mariner he is indeed.
Eärendil spent his childhood in Gondolin before it fell.
He married Elwing, Daughter of Dior, and they had Elrond and Elros, who were halfelven.
Eärendil had two purposes:
- To sail the Sea looking after his parents Tuor and Idril, and
- To move the hearts of Elves and Men to pity the sorrows of Middle-earth
Voyage of Eärendil
Eärendil had become friends with Círdan the Shipwright who lived in the Isle of Balar at the time – with whom he would build Vingilot, the Foam-flower.
Vingilot was the “fairest of the ships in song; golden were its oars and white its timbers, hewn in the birchwood of Nimbrethil, and its sails were as the Argent moon” (Silmarillion, “Of the Voyage of Eärendil and The War of Wrath”)
He was defeated by shadows and enchantment, since he had not found Tuor nor Idril – thus he was not able to fulfill this first purpose at first. He was driven by repelling winds until he went back home towards Beleriand in longing for Elwing.
Eärendil and Elwing were dismayed after the ruin of the havens of Sirion and the captivity of the sons, after Maedhros and Maglor – sons of Fëanor, bore the Silmarils and cast it into the Sea.
They were first afraid their sons will be slain, but it did not happen. Maglor took pity on Elros and Elrond – but his heart was sick and weary from the dreadful oath.
Eärendil still didn’t see any hope in Middle-earth, and decided to go off to Valinor with Elwing – in order to convince the Valar to help Elves and Men in the War against Morgoth – thus, they would be trying to fulfill the second purpose.
(On screen: Ulmo would advise Eärendil to go in earlier drafts, but it was later struck out (HoME “The Shaping of Middle-earth”).)
Eärendil Sails to Valinor
Eärendil had set to go off alone, for the sake of the Two Kindreds. Elwing answered:
“Then would our paths be sundered for ever; but all thy perils I will take on myself also.” (Silmarillion, “Of the Voyage of Eärendil and The War of Wrath”)
Eärendil feared the anger of the Lords of the West upon any of Middle-earth that would pass Aman.
He says: “Await me here; for one only may bring the message that it is my fate to bear.” (Silmarillion, “Of the Voyage of Eärendil and The War of Wrath”)
Then, Eönwe herald of Manwë, had called Eärendil over to Valinor, having come from Valimar:
Thus he would be called over before the powers of Arda.
Eärendil would come for the Noldor and pity for their great sorrows, and mercy upon Men and Elves. Thus his prayer was granted – and the second purpose he had in moving the hearts of Elves and Men.
Mandos had wondered if Mortal Men like Eärendil would be able to sail the Undying Lands.
Manwë gave judgment, as he had the power.
“In this matter the power of doom is given to me. The peril that he ventured for love of the Two Kindreds shall not fall upon Eärendil, nor shall it fall upon Elwing his wife, who entered into peril for love of him; but they shall not walk again ever among Elves or Men in the Outer Lands. And this is my decree concerning them: to Eärendil and to Elwing, and to their sons, shall be given leave each to choose freely to which kindred their fates shall be joined, and under which kindred they shall be judged.” (Silmarillion, “Of the Voyage of Eärendil and The War of Wrath”)
Then, Elwing became lonely and afraid with Eärendil gone, and went to Alqualondë and ended up befriending the Teleri.
When Eärendil had set sail, his wife Elwing was
“lonely and afraid, [she] wandered along the margin of the sea [coming among the Teleri]. …She wandered along the margin of the sea, singing sadly to herself; and so she came to Alqualondë, the Swan-haven,…and the Teleri befriended her.” (JRR Tolkien, “The Lost Road and Other Writings,” Quenya Silmarillion)
But they were later summoned to Valimar.
Elwing chose to be among the Firstborn Children of Ilúvatar, thus choosing to be among the Elves and so did Eärendil as a result – as they were both halfelven.
However, Elwing stayed back during much of Eärendil’s journeys, as she didn’t have the strength to endure the cold and pathless voids – also preferring the earth over sea. She had learned the languages of birds as they had once worn her shape, in order to devise wings.
Thus, she would fly to meet Eärendil when she was rescued from the sea when he went back to the earth for a brief period of time.
War of Wrath, Great Throne of Morgoth
After Vingilot (the ship that Eärendil built with Círdan) was set to sail, there was a meeting of the hosts in the West and the North and Morgoth’s power was great. But it availed him not.
The Balrogs were destroyed, and few remained to trouble the world. And there were few that remained in the three houses of the Elf-friends, Fathers of Men and many others of their lords.
Morgoth was afraid to come forth, but Eärendil came, and was surrounded by all the great birds of heaven.
Morgoth sued for peace and pardon as he was angry – and the two Silmarils he had were taken by Eönwe the herald. This marked the end of the power of Angband in the North.
As a result, the ships were built on the shores of the Western Sea, and they were admitted again to the love of Manwë and the pardon of the Valar; and the Teleri had forgiven them.
While some of the Elves like Eärendil and Elwing chose to leave, some others, like Círdan, Celeborn, Galadriel, Gil-galad, and Elrond – would stay in Middle-earth as elves for a significant period of time afterwards. Elrond’s twin brother Elros would choose the fate of mortal men.
The Valar had thrust Melkor (Morgoth) into the Door of Night beyond the Walls of the World into the Timeless Walls with a guard set upon these walls. While he was guarded his lies were already sowed in the hearts of Elves and Men and will not be forgotten.
Thus ends the tale of the Silmarillion as well.