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Friday, April 8, 2011

Valar (Reading Material)

various fragments, published in History of Middle Earth, volume 10, Morgoth's Ring. It is unclear how much of this thought was in Tolkien's mind while he was writing the Silmarillion, and how much was later thought.

JRRT's commentery on Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth, sometime after 1959
“The existence of the Valar: that is of certain angelic Beings (created, but at least as powerful as the 'gods' of human mythologies', the chief of whom still resided in an actual physical part of the Earth. They were the agents and vice-regents of Eru (God). They had been for nameless ages engaged in a demiurgic labour completing to the design of Eru the structure of the Universe (Eä); but were now concentrated on Earth for the principle Drama of Creation: the war of the Eruhín (The Children of God), Elves and Men, against Melkor.”

from a note titled Melkor/Morgoth, later than 1959
“[Manwë], like Melkor, practically never is seen or heard of outside or far away from his own halls and permanent residence. Why is this? For no very profound reason....The 'Elder King' is obviously not going to be finally defeated or destroyed, at least not before some ultimate 'Ragnarök' – which even for us is still in the future, so he can have no real 'adventures'. But, if you keep him at home, the issue of any particular event (since it cannot then result in a final 'checkmate') can remain in literary suspense. Even to the final war against Morgoth it is Fionwë son of Manwë {a figure later revised to Eonwë, Manwë's right-hand Maia} who leads out the power of the Valar. When we move out Manwë, it will be the last battle, and the end of the World.

Morgoth's staying 'at home' has, as described above, quite a different reason: his fear of being killed or even hurt (the literary motive is not present, for since he is pitted against the Elder King, the issue of any one of his enterprises is always in doubt).”

from a note titled Melkor/Morgoth, later than 1959
“The Valar 'fade' and become more impotent, precisely in proportion as the shape and constitution of things becomes more defined and settled.... The Past, once 'achieved', has become part of the 'Music in being'. Only Eru may or can alter the 'Music'. The last major effort, of this demiurgic kind, made by the Valar was the lifting up of the range of the Pelóri to a great height. It is possible to view this as, if not an actually bad action, at least as a mistaken one. Ulmo disapproved of it. It had one good, and legitimate, object: the preservation incorrupt of at least a part of Arda. But it seemed to have a selfish or neglectful (or despairing) motive also; for the effort to preserve the Elves incorrupt ther had proved a failure if they were to be left free: many had refused to come to the Blessed Realm, many had revolted and left it. Whereas, with regard to Men, Manwë and the all the Valar knew quite well that they could not come to Aman at all....Thus the 'Hiding of Valinor' came near to countering Morgoth's possessiveness by a rival possessiveness, setting up a private domain of light and a pleasaunce (well fenced) against a fortress and a dungeon.

“This appearance of selfish faiéance in the Valar in the mythology as told is (though I have not explained it or commented on it) I think only an 'appearance', and one which we are apt to accept as the truth, since we are all in some degree affected by the shadow and lies of their Enemy, the Caluminiator....

{Even after taking account that we are reading Númenorean versions of Elvish stories of events that the Elves did not personally witness:} it is possible to view the matter otherwise. The closing of Valinor against the rebel Noldor (who left it voluntarily and after warning) was in itself just. But if we dare to attempt to enter the mind of the Elder King, assigning motives and finding faults, there are thing to remember before we deliver a judgement. Manwë as the spirit of greatest wisdom and prudence in Arda. He is represented as having the greatest knowledge of the Music, as a whole, possessed by any one finite mind; and he alone of all persons or minds in that time is represented as having the power of direct recourse to and communication with Eru. He must have grasped with great clarity ... that it was the essential mode of the process of 'history' in Arda that evil should constantly arise, and that out of it new good should constantly come.... The heroic Noldor were the best possible weapon with which to keep Morgoth at by, virtually besieged, and at any rate fully occupied, ... without provoking him to a frenzy of nihilistic destruction. And in the meanwhile, Men, or the best elements of Mankind, shaking off his shadow, came into contact with a people who had actually seen and experienced the Blessed Realm.

“In their association with the warring Eldar Men were raised to their fullest achievable stature, and by the two marriages the ... infusion into Mankind of the noblest Elf-strain was accomplished....

“The last intervention with physical force by the Valar, ending in the breaking of Thangorodrim, may then be viewed as not in fact reluctant or even unduly delayed, but timed with precision. The intervention came before the annihilation of the Eldar and the Edain. Morgoth though locally truimphant had neglected most of Middle-earth during the war; and by it he had in fact been weakened: in power and prestige (he had lost and failed to recover one of the Silmarils), and above all in mind. ... He had fallen to like) being a tyrant-king with conquered slaves, and vast obedient armies.

“The was was successful, and ruin limited to the small ... region of Beleriand. Morgoth was thus actually made captive in physical form, and in that form taken as a mere criminal to Aman...
Nonetheless the breaking of Thangorodrim ... was thus, also, in a sense the end of Manwë's prime function and task as Elder King, until the End.... Sauron... was a problem that Men had to deal with finally: the first of many concentrations of Evil into definite power-points that they would have to combat, as it was also the last of those in 'mythological' personalized (but non-human) form.

A different version of the same essay
“The last effort of this sort made by the Valar was the raising up of the Pelóri – but this was not a good act: it came near to countering Morgoth in his own way – apart from the element of selfishness in its object of preserving Aman as a blissful region to live in.

“The Valar ... became less and less important (structurally!) as the plan was more and more nearly achieved. Even in the First Age we see them after uncounted ages of work near the end of their time of work – not wisdom or counsel. The wiser they became the less power they had to do anything – save by counsel.)

“Similarly the Elves faded, having introduced 'art and science'.”


Laws and Customs Among the Eldar:
“Manwë spoke to the Valar, saying: 'In this matter ye must not forget that you deal with Arda Marred – out of which ye brought the Eldar. Neither must ye forget that in Arda Marred Justice is not Healing. Healing cometh only by suffering and patience, and maketh no demand, not even for Justice. Justice worketh only within the bonds of things as they are, accepting the marring Arda, and therefore though Justice is itself good and desireth no further evil, it can but perpetuate the evil that was, and doth not prevent it from the bearing of fruit in sorrow. ... The liberty that it gave was a lower road that, if it led not still downwards, could not again ascend. But Healing must retain ever the thought of Arda Unmarred, and if it cannot ascend, must abide in patience. This is Hope which, I deem, is before all else the virtue most fair in the Children of Eru, but cannot be commanded to come when needed: patience must often long await it.'
Then Nienna spoke, who came to Valmar seldom, but sat now upon the left hand of Manwë. 'In the use of Justice there must be Pity, which is the consideration of the singleness of each the cometh under Justice. ... For the Children are both strong and without might. Mandos you hold to be the strongest of all that are in Arda, being the least moved.... Yet I say to you that each fëa of the Children is as strong as he; for it hath the strength of its singleness impregnable (which cometh to it from Eru as to us): in its nakedness it is obdurate beyond all power that ye have to move it it will not. Yet the Children are not mighty: in life they are little, and can effect little; and they are young, and they know Time only. Their minds are as the hands of their babes, little in grasp, and even that grasp is yet unfilled. How shall they perceive the end of deeds, or forgo the desires which arise from their very nature ...?”

{Manwë again:} “... We must hold that it is [Eru's] will that those of the Eldar who serve him should not be cast down by griefs or evils that they encounter in Arda Marred; but should ascend to a strength and wisdom that they would not otherwise have achieved: that the Children of Eru should grow to be daughters and sons.

For Arda Unmarred hath two aspects or senses. The first is the Unmarred that they discern in the Marred, if their eyes are not dimmed, and yearn for, as we yearn for the Will of Eru: this is the ground upon which Hope is built. The second is the Unmarred that shall be: that is ... the Arda Healed, which shall be greater and more fair than the first, because of the Marring: this is the Hope that sustaineth. It cometh not only from the yearning for the Will of Ilúvatar the Begetter (which by itself may lead those within Time to no more than regret), but also from trust in Eru the Lord everlasting, that he is good, and that his works shall all end in good. This the Marrer hath denied, and in this denial is the root of evil, and its end is in despair.
Then Námo Mandos spoke, saying: '... It is our part to rule Arda, and to counsel the Children, or to command them in things committed to our authority. Therefore it is our task to deal with Arda Marred, and to declare what is just within it. We may indeed in counsel point to the higher road, but we cannot compel any free creature to walk upon it. That leadeth to tyranny, which disfigureth good and maketh it seem hateful.

'Healing by final Hope, as Manwë hath spoken it, is a law which one can give to oneself only; of others justice alone can be demanded. A ruler who discerning justice refuseth to it... demanding abnegation of rights and self-sacrifice, will not drive his subjects to these virtues, virtuous only if free, but ... will drive them rather to rebellion against all law. Not by such means will Arda be healed.'”

Annals of Aman, possibly 1958:
“No lord {husband} hath Niënna the sorrowful, queen of shadow, Manwë's sister and Melkor's.”

“For it is said that even in the Music Nienna took little part, but listened intent to all that she heard. Therefore she was rich in memory, and farsighted, perceiving how the themes should unfold in the Tale of Arda. But she had little mirth, and all her love was mingled with pity, grieving for the harms of the world and for the things that failed of fulfillment. So great was her ruth, it is said, that she could not endure to the end of the Music. Therefore she has not the hope of Manwë. He is more farseeing, but Pity is the heart of Nienna.”

“Now it came to pass that Melkor had dwelt along in the duress of Mandos for the three ages that were doomed by the Valar, and he came before their conclave to be tried. And Melkor sued for pardon at the feet of Manwë, and humbled himself, and swore to abide his rule, and to aid the Valar in all ways that he could, for the good of Arda, and the profit of the Valar and of the Eldar, if so he should be granted freedom, and a place as the least of the folk of Valinor.

And Nienna aided his prayer (because of her kinship, and Manwë granted it, for being himself free of all evil he saw not the depths of the heart of Melkor, and believed in his oaths. But Mandos was silent, and Ulmo's heart misgave him.”

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