The Silmarillion – Quenta Silmarillion: XVI. Of Maeglin

With this chapter, we introduce some new players, who in turn will lead to new consequences down the road.

Aredhel Ar-Feiniel, the White Lady of Noldor, daughter of Fingolfin, lived in the hidden city of Gondolin with her brother Turgon.  She wearied of it, desiring to ride again in Valinor.  200 years later, she asked leave of Turgon to depart, which he reluctantly granted that she visit their brother Fingon.  Aredhel, however, instructed her escort to instead seek her friends, the sons of Fëanor.  They were denied entrance into Doriath and told to go the long way around.  She and her escorts were separated, and they were nearly killed in the process of trying to find her.  Fearing her death or capture, they returned home with the grim news.

Aredhel carried on to Himlad, land of Celegorm and Curufin.  They were not at home, but their people welcomed her.  She wandered around, eventually to the forest of Nan Elmoth still under the enchantment of Melian.  There dwelt Eöl, the Dark Elf, who prefered the twilight under the tall trees to the daylight.  Eöl befriended the Dwarves, and from the skills he learned, he created a metal called galvorn, dark, strong, and supple.  The moment he saw Aredhel, he desired to possess her and enchanted the way that she could not find her way out of the forest but was instead drawn ever closer to his home.  Upon her arrival, he took her to wife, “though she was not wholly unwilling.”  Meaning she was not wholly willing?  They had a child, Maeglin, who resembled the Noldor in appearance but had the mind of his father.  Like his father, he learned much from the Dwarves, especially how to rend ore from the mountain.

He felt a love for his mother and her people, and discovering Turgon had no heir, started plotting immediately to fill the position.  Wishing to see others of the Noldor, the rift between him and his father grew, and Maeglin persuaded his mother to return to Gondolin.  Eöl pursued them and was taken by the people of Curufin, who in turn was angry that Eöl had married Aredhel.  Eöl pursued them to Gondolin and caught sight of them just as they arrived at the gates.

Aredhel and Maeglin were welcomed into the city, with Turgon offering Maeglin the highest honors in the realm.  Maeglin swore fealty and marveled at all he beheld in Gondolin, most of all Turgon’s daughter Idril.

Eöl was taken captive at the gates, eventually being taken to Turgon when Aredhel confirmed he was her husband.  Eöl was amazed at all within Gondolin and hated the Noldor more for it.  Turgon offered to let him live within Gondolin though none could leave, and Eöl rejected Turgon’s law, demanding Maeglin return with him.  Turgon issued ultimatum: live in Gondolin or die there.

Eöl cast a dart from beneath his cloak at Maeglin, but Aredhel threw herself in front of her son and was struck in the shoulder.  She and Idril plead for Turgon’s mercy when Eöl was arrested.  That night, Aredhel died, the dart having been poisoned.  Turgon ordered Eöl to be cast from the walls of Gondolin.  Maeglin stood by and remained silent as ever.  Eöl, angered by his son’s “treachery,” cursed that Maeglin should die in like manner, realizing none of his hopes in Gondolin.  Then they chucked Eöl over the wall to his death.

Idril lost trust for her kinsmen ever after.  Maeglin thrived and was eager to learn as much as to teach and found many rich metals to work in the Encircling Mountains for the benefit of all.  Still, he found no contentment, loving Idril (that is, seeking to possess her).  They were such near kin that this was against Eldar custom, and Idril saw it as perversion.  Maeglin’s love turned to darkness, and he lusted for power that he might have her.  Within the bliss of of Gondolin, the seed of evil was planted.

I mentioned in a recent post that once we’re through with The Silmarillion, I wanted to go back and revisit The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings before continuing on this quest.  This chapter only strengthened that desire.

Maeglin’s skill in extracting ore combined with the people of Gondolin’s skill in weaponscraft gave that city a legacy that we’ve seen in the pages of The Hobbit.  Consider this passage from chapter 3, “A Short Rest”:

Elrond knew all about runes of every kind.  That day he looked at the swords they had brought from the trolls’ lair, and he said: “These are not troll-make.  They are old swords, very old swords of the High Elves of the West, my kin.  They were made in Gondolin for the Goblin-wars.  They must have come from a dragon’s hoard or goblin plunder, for dragons and goblins destroyed that city many ages ago.  This, Thorin, the runes name Orcrist, the Goblin-cleaver in the ancient tongue of Gondolin; it was a famous blade.  This, Gandalf, was Glamdring, Foe-hammer that the king of Gondolin once wore.  Keep them well!”

So… Gandalf ultimately carried Turgon’s own sword — a weapon likely created through the skills taught and learned by Maeglin — through the Battle of the Five Armies and ultimately through the War of the Ring.  That, people, is freaking cool.  My geekbumps got geekbumps.  This is the kind of thing I’m hoping to catch more with a re-read.

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