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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 3:58 am 
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[Note: I moved this discussion from the Sil thread (with a couple of posts coming from the "Trees, Light and the Sea" thread) - VtF]

superwizard wrote:
There is no 'light at the end of the tunnel" like in all of Tolkien's other work.


Well, there is, in a sense, except that Christopher chose to leave it out. In the Second Prophecy of Mandos, which by all rights should have ended the Quenta Silmarillion, Túrin exacts his revenge upon Morgoth and is given a place among the immortals in compensation for his suffering, greater then that of any in Middle-earth. Even if (as is acknowledged in the Athrabeth, which itself should have been by direct direction of the author included as an appendix to the Sil), this hopeful ending was nothing more then the wishful mythology of mortal men, it would have done much to wash away the taste of this dark story, most bitter of all the tales brewed in Middle-earth.

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Last edited by Voronwë the Faithful on Fri Mar 09, 2007 9:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 1:03 pm 
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So good to have you back V :)
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Well, there is, in a sense, except that Christopher chose to leave it out. In the Second Prophecy of Mandos, which by all rights should have ended the Quenta Silmarillion, Túrin exacts his revenge upon Morgoth and is given a place among the immortals in compensation for his suffering, greater then that of any in Middle-earth.

Pardon my ignorance V but I always thought that the story you have just said was abandoned by Tolkien and was indeed one of his earlier works. Again I may very well be wrong!


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 12:58 am 
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superwizard wrote:
So good to have you back V :)
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Well, there is, in a sense, except that Christopher chose to leave it out. In the Second Prophecy of Mandos, which by all rights should have ended the Quenta Silmarillion, Túrin exacts his revenge upon Morgoth and is given a place among the immortals in compensation for his suffering, greater then that of any in Middle-earth.

Pardon my ignorance V but I always thought that the story you have just said was abandoned by Tolkien and was indeed one of his earlier works. Again I may very well be wrong!


S'wiz, I thought so too, until I embarked on my closer study. In point of fact, it was still part of the conclusion to the Quenta Silmarillion when Tolkien did his last work on it in the late fifties/early sixties, and Tolkien himself never abandoned it. Here is what I have to say about it in Arda Reconstructed:

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Paragraph 42 - "Here ends the SILMARILLION. ... "

This, the last paragraph of the Quenta Silmarillion in the published Silmarillion, is as has already been mentioned, taken from the end of the Valaquenta, with the only change being that "SILMARILLION" replaces "Valaquenta". It replaces the last three paragraphs of LQ/QS(Conc), which contain "the Second Prophecy of Mandos".

CT states in his discussion of the Valaquenta that the text used for this paragraph shows that "The Second Prophecy of Mandos had now therefore definitively disappeared" (Morgoth's Ring, p. 204). He is referring, of course, to the fact that it states that "if any change shall come and the Marring be amended, Manwë and Varda may know; but they have not revealed it, and it is not declared in the dooms of Mandos".

However, it is not (not surprisingly), so simple as that. The question of the Second Prophecy is tied up in the whole complicated question of what tradition the Silmarillion and related works came from: Elvish or Mannish. In a note to the late work referred to as "The Problem of Ros" (which dates to later then 1968), a version of part of the prophecy is attributed to Andreth the Wise-woman, in which she states "that Túrin in the Last Battle should return from the Dead, and before he left the Circles of the World for ever should challenge the Great Dragon of Morgoth, Ancalogon the Black, and deal him the death stroke" (see The Peoples of Middle-earth, pp. 374-375, fn. 17, in which CT also offers a good summary of the history of the Second Prophecy. More importantly, however (given the relative importance of the work), in the Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth, which having been written in around 1959 also is later then the Valaquenta, it is stated in Note 7: "It is noteworthy that the Elves had no myths or legends dealing with the end of the world. The myth that appears at the end of the Silmarillion is of Númenorean origin; it is clearly made by Men, though Men acquainted with Elvish tradition. All Elvish traditions are presented as 'histories', or as accounts of what once was." (Morgoth's Ring, p. 342.)

Had CT followed his father's express stated wishes about the Athrabeth (see the discussion about the Appendices), it would have been perfectly appropriate to leave the conclusion of the Valaquenta with the Valaquenta, and include these paragraphs, since their inclusion would have been explained. Here, are the omitted paragraphs from the end of LQ/QS(Conc):

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§31 Thus spake Mandos in prophecy, when the Gods sat in judgment in Valinor, and the rumour of his words was whispered among all the Elves of the West. When the world is old and the Powers grow weary, then Morgoth, seeing that the guard sleepeth, shall come back through the Door of Night out of the Timeless Void; and he shall destroy the Sun and Moon. But Eärendel shall descend upon him as a white and searing flame and drive him from the airs. Then shall the Last Battle be gathered on the fields of Valinor. In that day Tulkas shall strive with Morgoth, and on his right hand shall be Eönwë, and his left Túrin Turumbar, son of Húrin, returning from the Doom of Men at the ending of the world; and the black sword of Túrin shall deal unto Morgoth hid death and final end; and so shall the children of Húrin and all Men be avenged.

§32 Thereafter shall Earth be broken and re-made, and the Silmarils shall be recovered out of Air and Earth and Sea; for Eärendel shall descend and surrender that flame which he hath had in keeping. Then Fëanor shall take the Three Jewels and bear them to Yavanna Kementári; and she will break them and with their fire rekindle the Two Trees, and a great light shall come forth. And the Mountains of Valinor shall be leveled, so that the Light shall go out over all the world. In that light the Gods will grow young again, and the Elves awake and all their dead arise, and the purpose of Ilúvatar be fulfilled concerning them. But of Men in that day the prophecy of Mandos doth not speak, and no Man it names, save Túrin only, and to him a place is given among the sons of the Valar.

§33 Here endeth The Silmarillion: which is drawn out in brief from those songs and histories which are yet sung and told by the fading Elves, and (more clearly and fully) by the vanished Elves that dwell now upon the Lonely Isle, Tol Eressëa, whither few mariners of Men have ever come, save once or twice in a long age when some man of Eärendel's race hath passed beyond the land of mortal sight and seen the glimmer of the lamps upon the quays of Avallon, and smelt afar the undying flowers in the means of Dorwinion. Of whom was Eriol one, that men named Ælfwine, and he alone returned and brought tidings of Cortirion to the Hither Lands.


I think that including most of this would have made a better ending of the Silmarillion. Particularly including the portion of the Prophecy in which Túrin deals Morgoth his final death blow. I like that it gives some measure of a satisfying ending to Tolkien's darkest tale.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 1:35 am 
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Good to have you back, Voronwë. :hug: I've missed you.

Forgive me, just a little niggle:

In Arda Reconstructed ... and what a thrill it gives me to write that title :love: .... you state re: paragraph 42:

Quote:
§32 Thereafter shall Earth be broken and re-made, and the Silmarils shall be recovered out of Air and Earth and Sea; for Eärendel shall descend and surrender that flame which he hath had in keeping. Then Fëanor shall take the Three Jewels and bear them to Yavanna Kementári; and she will break them and with their fire rekindle the Two Trees, and a great light shall come forth. And the Mountains of Valinor shall be leveled, so that the Light shall go out over all the world. In that light the Gods will grow young again, and the Elves awake and all their dead arise, and the purpose of Ilúvatar be fulfilled concerning them. But of Men in that day the prophecy of Mandos doth not speak, and no Man it names, save Túrin only, and to him a place is given among the sons of the Valar.
:D

I'm reading 'War of the Jewels' which is new to me -- it was a Xmas gift. Yay! -- I've been researching the Second Prophecy because I still want to respond to Ath's and superwiz's posts -- and came across this snippet:

The Later Quenta. Page 247.

Approximatelty against the last two sentences of the paragraph (from
'In that light the Gods will grow young again ...') my father put a large X in the margin of the manuscript.


Does this negate, do you think, the assumption that Túrin is accorded a place among the Valar?

I have a huge problem with Túrin escaping the Doom of Men, the circles of the world, and returning to a) slay Morgoth, b) slay Ancalagon or c) be counted among the sons of the Valar.

If this is really so, then I posit that Tolkien fudged on his basic premise of the mortality of Man and (unfairly) changed the rules midstream.

And yes, he was the author. He could do whatsoever he wished. :D
Although I do think it's important to stay consistent within one's own internal logic.

What say you?

ETA:
Yeah, I know Beren was sort of an exception. But he merited the exception. I'm not so sure of Túrin.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 3:02 am 
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I missed you too, Sassy. What a great pleasure to be discussing the Silmarillion with you once more!

And, needless to say, it gives me a thrill to write "Arda Reconstructed" too. 8)

Sassafras wrote:
I'm reading 'War of the Jewels' which is new to me -- it was a Xmas gift. Yay! -- I've been researching the Second Prophecy because I still want to respond to Ath's and superwiz's posts -- and came across this snippet:

The Later Quenta. Page 247.

Approximatelty against the last two sentences of the paragraph (from
'In that light the Gods will grow young again ...') my father put a large X in the margin of the manuscript.


Does this negate, do you think, the assumption that Túrin is accorded a place among the Valar?


Very excellent point, Sass (in fact, it made me go back and add a note to my manuscript that Tolkien had made that notation, which I had neglected to remark on, as well as the note that he made to the previous paragraph (which I will address in a moment).

It is, of course, virtually impossible to interpret with any degree of certainty Tolkien's intention with these type of marginal notes and such. I do think that there is a chance that the "X" is an indication that he was having second thoughts about the inclusion of the idea of Túrin being given a place among the sons of the Valar, but it is hard to say. One thing that argues against it is the note that he made next to the previous paragraph, where he wrote "and Beren Camlost" with direction for its insertion. The implication to me is that he was saying that Beren, like Túrin, was removed from the Doom of Men.

Regardless of what Tolkien meant by the "X", I think it actually supports my overall point. Though he was clearly making some edits to this concluding text, he made no effort at all to remove the part of the prophecy in which Túrin returns from the Doom of Men to deal Morgoth his death blow.

Quote:
Yeah, I know Beren was sort of an exception. But he merited the exception. I'm not so sure of Túrin.


I wouldn't say that he merited the exception. Rather, I would say that he earned it in compensation for the great grief of his life.

However, I want to emphasize that, in my conception of the Silmarillion as it should have been, the Second Prophecy of Mandos would not be considered to be a true reporting of what was going to happen, but rather the hopeful mythology of the Númenoreans, as explained in Note 7 of the Athrabeth.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 9:13 am 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
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§33 Here endeth The Silmarillion: which is drawn out in brief from those songs and histories which are yet sung and told by the fading Elves, and (more clearly and fully) by the vanished Elves that dwell now upon the Lonely Isle, Tol Eressëa, whither few mariners of Men have ever come, save once or twice in a long age when some man of Eärendel's race hath passed beyond the land of mortal sight and seen the glimmer of the lamps upon the quays of Avallon, and smelt afar the undying flowers in the means of Dorwinion. Of whom was Eriol one, that men named Ælfwine, and he alone returned and brought tidings of Cortirion to the Hither Lands.



I'm a little disconcerted by the mention of Eriol / Ælfwine in this section. Surely that would suggest that this is more closely tied to the Book of Lost tales and not the more recent Silmarillion?

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 7:12 pm 
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Perfectly understandable, Al, since as far as I recall the names Eriol and Ælfwine don't appear anywhere in the published Silmarillion. But that is really due more to Christopher then his father. Particularly with regard to the "ancillary" texts of the Ainulindalë, the Valaquenta, and the Akallabêth, there is no question that Tolkien's intention was that they were still stories that were told to Eriol / Ælfwine on Tol Eressëa. As for the Quenta itself, the only reference that I recall that remained in Tolkien's final version was in this concluding paragraph. It would, perhaps, be an interesting topic for a separate thread, to discuss whether Christopher was correct in excising all remnants of this backstory to the Silmarillion stories. I think, though, that it would be pretty easy to guess my opinion. ;)

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 7:26 pm 
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The functional problem with the Eriol backstory is that as a framing device, it doesn't have an analog anywhere else in Tolkien's work. I think he simply decided it was too clunky as a rule by the time he worked on The Hobbit, and especially on LOTR.

For me, a frame on a fantasy story that tries to connect it to the real/modern/mundane world is perilously close to Mary Sue material on one hand, and Neverending Story-style metafiction on the other.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 9:34 pm 
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I think that ax has a point - regardless of Tolkien's intention, the execution of such a framing device is difficult at best, and was not fully fleshed out by Tolkien anywhere but in Lost Tales. [And there, lets face it, watching Eriol listen to the stories isn't terribly interesting.] It would have been irresponsible of Christopher to include this without shoring it up a bit - and with the author dead, it would have been presumptuous to do so. Voronwë, did you ever get ahold of that book (Tolkien's Legendarium, I think) with the article on the creation of the published Sil? I think it discussed the dichotomy between Tolkien's wishes and Tolkien's accomplishments, and evaluated Christopher's decisions in that light. The book is dedicated to Christopher (in the names of both Eriol and Aelfwine, actually ;)), so the evaluation is understandably respectful, not critical. But they do suggest what the Silmarillion would have been, if the author had followed through on his intentions, rather than leaving incomplete manuscripts for his son.

But back to Eriol. He is an important character, and I think Tolkien always intended to link the Silm stories to our world (or at least, early history) in some way. Bilbo Baggins' Translations from the Elvish show that desire in full swing, and that's fully 'canon,' being part of the LotR (narrative too, not just preface and appendices). The Red Book is able to take the lore of the Noldor from Rivendell to Gondor, at the very least. But with the Lord of the Rings, he has a new problem - where does early England fit into all of this? Can Eriol really sail to Tol Eressëa when the sinking of Beleriand no longer leaves vague lands over unknown mountains, but rather leads us to Eriador?

The Second Prophecy originally referred to the War of Wrath, or the end of the First Age. There was no Númenor, no Gondor, no Ring. It just...ended. But it's really apocolyptic, so it's the end of the world....and that obviously must be in the future for Eriol. So even as first written, the Second Prophesy is hard to place. Given the later story, it's...even harder ;).

But no, Tolkien didn't abandon the idea. He was still translating the Quenta into Old English and calling it the notes of Aelfwine. He was working on the Notion Club Papers which would (essentially) account for the transmission of the legendarium all the way down to the present day. He wanted there to be some link to his stories, to account for the remote, mythic nature of them. The Silmarillion is written in the "voice" of someone far removed from the action, who can look over it all with a broad eye. (Some of Christopher's editorial additions help this mood - the reference to "save one - the greatest mariner of song" springs to mind.) Not removed in the sense of not caring about the fate of the Noldor, of course. I merely meant that the narrator clearly knows how it all ends, and is almost telling the story backwards. His "authors" - Pengolod and Rúmil of Tirion - help do this; they are elvish historians. But he wanted the ultimate source to be "Mannish," since Noldor who could speak to the Valar were unlikely to have gotton the cosmology so spectacularly wrong ;).


I think there are two solutions to the dilemma. One is to eliminate the framing device altogether, and let the stories speak for themselves (with maybe editorial notes mentioning the elvish authors and mannish translators/transmitters [whether Aelfwine or Bilbo]). The other is to re-create a convincing framing device that accounts for the transmition of the stories to Men while integrating into the later history of Lord of the Rings. Christopher did the former; I intend to attempt the latter. ;) Yeah, I know I'm nuts, but fan-fiction has far fewer restraints than scholarship. I can make my own choices of how to maintain the "spirit" of Tolkien's wishes without relying on Tolkien actually having any of those ideas himself.

*holds on tight to thread in preparation for being wisked away*


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 5:14 pm 
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Sassy wrote:
I have a huge problem with Túrin escaping the Doom of Men, the circles of the world, and returning to a) slay Morgoth, b) slay Ancalagon or c) be counted among the sons of the Valar.


I actually don't see it as "escaping the Doom of Men". With the remaking of Arda, the "circles of the world" would become a thing of the past, from my understanding of Tolkien's cosmogony. Arda Remade and Healed would not, I believe, be constrained any longer by the space/time continuum....it would, in essence, be heaven (although I'm sure Voronwë will correct me if I'm way off here). All Men wait for a time in the Halls of Mandos before they leave the circles of the world......for what reason? External judgement? Internal reflection? Personal healing? Some kind of combination of all of these? This, it would seem, is what the Elves must deal with before returning to their physical form, and I would think the purpose of such a "waiting time" might well apply to Men as well. Turambar's time in Mandos ends just as the "circles of the world" near the end of their practical purpose. He will be joined to the shared Doom of Men (and Elves) in Arda Healed. I don't believe his due legacy is at all withheld from him.....it's just delayed.

Agghh! This Mexican keyboard is driving me mad.......I can't believe how many times I've had to consult with the little sticky note next to the computer to find out which Alt keystrokes to use for everything from quotation marks to parentheses! :help:

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 8:59 pm 
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Correct you? YOU? I would never think of it.

You do raise some interesting ideas that I haven't really considered before (again!). Now that you mention it, it does make sense that Arda Healed would not be constrained by the space/time continuum, though I don't think that Tolkien actually says that anywhere.

Quote:
Turambar's time in Mandos ends just as the "circles of the world" near the end of their practical purpose.


This reminds me, once again, of Fëanor. Fëanor is never released from Mandos to return to the world as is the fate of the Elves until (at least according to the Second Prophecy) the End when the Earth is broken and remade, and the Silmarils are recovered, and he surrenders them to Yavanna. So too Túrin is not released from Mandos to leave the circles of the world as is the normal fate of Men, until the End, when he slays Morgoth. Very interesting parallel.

I'm still organizing my thoughts about the other subject that has been raised, but Mith I'm not going to move it out of this thread, unless the request is made to do so.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 10:56 pm 
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Athrabeth wrote:
Sassy wrote:
I have a huge problem with Túrin escaping the Doom of Men, the circles of the world, and returning to a) slay Morgoth, b) slay Ancalagon or c) be counted among the sons of the Valar.


I actually don't see it as "escaping the Doom of Men". With the remaking of Arda, the "circles of the world" would become a thing of the past, from my understanding of Tolkien's cosmogony. Arda Remade and Healed would not, I believe, be constrained any longer by the space/time continuum....it would, in essence, be heaven


No. That's just too neat, it ties up loose ends and wraps them nicely in a ... a .... Christian package. That is not how I perceive the Silmarillion.

<I do realize that, ultimately, Tolkien's Christian beliefs shape what is superficially a pagan myth ... I simply prefer to understand, to feel, the history on a more pagan, albeit moral, level.>

And that is only incidental to my belief, my personal opinion, that Túrin (speaking strictly of the character in the Sil and NOT the Narn or any other) is an impulsive wretch given to ungovernable rages who literally destroyed many loves and lives other than his own, may deserve some sort of redemption but does not deserve to be elevated to the status of the Angels.

Plus, I'm still having a difficult time with the veracity of the Second Prophecy. If Tolkien changes the perspective from Elvish ....

Here ends The Valaquenta. If it has passed from the high and beautiful to darkness and ruin, that was of old the fate of Arda Marred; and if any change shall come and the Marring be amended, Manwë and Varda may know; but they have not revealed it, and it is not declared in the dooms of Mandos.
Morgoth's Ring, The Valaquenta

to the Mannish ...

What we have in the Silmarillion etc. are traditions ... handed on by Men in Númenor and later in Middle-earth (Arnor and Gondor); but already far back - from the first association of the Dúnedain and Elf-friends with the Eldar in Beleriand - blended and confused with their own Mannish myths and cosmic ideas.
Morgoth's Ring. Myths Transformed

and also this ...

It is noteworthy that the Elves had no myths or legends dealing with the end of the world. The myth that appears at the end of the Silmarillion is of Númenórean origin;19 it is clearly made by Men, though Men acquainted with Elvish tradition. All Elvish traditions are presented as 'histories', or as accounts of what once was.
Morgoth's Ring: Athrabeth, note 7

then one needs to ask how is it that Men know the fate of the ending of the world? It is supposition and supposition can often be wrong. Men have no history of foresight. Instead, men are known to be prone to confusion (see Andreth's tale of the worship of Morgoth) and mistake.

One may have personal opinions on the validity of the prophecy ..... but in which version? Túrin slays Morgoth? Túrin slays Ancalagon? Beren is also present? Nienor and Túrin dwelt as shining Valar?, Eärendil, alongside Tulkas drives Morgoth as a white flame? ..... Many of these versions are contradictory and it seems to me that one can pick and choose individual aspects which suit one's own philosophy.

None of which positively answers the question as to whether the Second Prophecy should be considered factual; or anything more than a myth.

I think it is indicitive of Tolkien's genuis that the body of his work can be read on so many different levels. I rather like it that eucatastophe, the door to the Unmarring of Arda, is left open (so to speak) Nowhere (that I can find) is it definitely stated how the resolution of Arda marred is concluded.

So, because I am not authoritatively told which conclusions to draw I can fill in the blanks using the colours of my own moral vision in a manner satisfactory to me.

And so I do.

:horse:

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 11:15 pm 
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Quote:
It is supposition and supposition can often be wrong.


Or, in other words (as I said before), it is hopeful mythology.

That's my point exactly. The Second Prophecy is not meant to be taken as Truth, as what really happens (or rather, what really will happen). It is not "Elvish history"; it is "Mannish mythology". But I see no reason why the two can not exist side by side with each other.

But then I am a maverick and a danger to us all. :devil:

Quote:
One may have personal opinions on the validity of the prophecy ..... but in which version? Túrin slays Morgoth? Túrin slays Ancalagon? Beren is also present? Nienor and Túrin dwelt as shining Valar?, Eärendil, alongside Tulkas drives Morgoth as a white flame? ..... Many of these versions are contradictory and it seems to me that one can pick and choose individual aspects which suit one's own philosophy.


This is disagree with. I think that is like saying that you can choose Trotter the Hobbit over Strider the Numenorian if you happen to like that version better (of course no one does, but that is beside the point). I think the valid version is the final one that Tolkien wrote and revised. Any previous versions have to be considered preempted. Of course, its possible that Tolkien would have abandoned or changed that final version if he had ever finalized the Silmarillion himself. But he did not. So we have to make do with what we have.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 11:19 pm 
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None of which positively answers the question as to whether the Second Prophecy should be considered factual; or anything more than a myth.

Well there have been several profecies (some of which were made by men) in Tolkien's work (especially LOTR) which seem to have come true. Off the top of my head I can think of:
a)Prophecies by Malbeth the Seer (the first one about Arvedui the other about the paths of the dead)
b)Prophecy made by Mandos
c)Glorfindel's prophecy
d)Felagund's prophecy

I mean I haven't really heard of a prophecy in Tolkien's work that didn't come true (of course the sample is probably heavily biased) so I personally believe that the second prophecy did (or will-I'm confused here with which tense to use) happen.[/quote]


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But the difference with all of the those prophesies, S'wiz, is that they are all described in the "histories" as having come true. In the case of the Second Prophecy of Mandos, it is specifically described by Tolkien as being a Numenorian myth, and specifically distinguished from "Elvish history".

I do want to say that from the point of view of literary criticism, I agree with Ax that Christopher was correct to remove the Second Prophecy, and all remnants of the whole Eriol / Ælfwine backstory. But I don't tend to apply traditional literary criticism to Tolkien's work.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 4:01 pm 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
But the difference with all of the those prophesies, S'wiz, is that they are all described in the "histories" as having come true. In the case of the Second Prophecy of Mandos, it is specifically described by Tolkien as being a Numenorian myth, and specifically distinguished from "Elvish history".

I quite understand V :D. I was just saying that those prophecies came true so it is quite possible that this one will as well...


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:28 pm 
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Prophets among Men are interesting, no matter what the story :)

If they were Hebrew prophets, they would be speaking the words of God (Eru himself) with the purpose of admonishing or giving hope. The outcome could be changed (sometimes) if the behavior of the people changed. If they were Greek oracles, they would be speaking on behalf of the gods (and trying to get around what they say merely brings it about, of course). There is a destiny, or inevitable doom, about such words. You will be killed by your daughter's son. Deal. If they're Tolkienian (but non-Middle Earth), they are likely struck with sudden inspiration (Lo!) - poets. If they are elves, their hearts are likely in tune with the music and any such pronouncement will prove true.

But if they are Men of Númenor, who have the blood of Lúthien in their veins.....

Malbeth the Seer names Arvedui with some, but not all, knowledge of what will happen. He realizes that a choice will come before the Numenoreans, and that they will have to take the less promising one to survive. He does not know which choice they will make! But he guesses which course is more likely (the more obvious, hopeful one). It is unclear whether or not he knows the decision in question is the succession in Gondor, but he does know the consequence will be the end of the North Kingdom (Arvedui means "last king"). This is partial knowledge, not full knowledge, and has some of the riddling of the Greek oracles in it. It isn't a "three days and Nineveh will be destroyed" prophecy. But what it does share with Jonah's is that there is the possibility that it won't come true. He sees only the moment of decision, not the actual decision. But like Simeon, Malbeth is given a vision of hope to go with his vision of doom. He may know (or "see") the end of the North Kingdom, but the poem about athelas speaks of a King's hands. [I am sure there are Northern examples I could be using for comparison; I am simply not familiar with them.]

Aragorn tells Gandalf to beware passing the gates of Moria, and, lo and behold, Gandalf dies there. Aragorn had a foreboding for Gandalf in particular (not the rest of the company), though he had no way of knowing about the Balrog. He and Gandalf had each (separately) entered Moria before, so they should have known what the dangers were. But it isn't a calculated risk analysis Aragorn is presenting, it's a "my heart tells me" you're screwed.
He also tells Éomer they will meet again, "though all the forces of Mordor lie between us." They meet in the midst of the Pelennor during the battle, so, again, Aragorn was right. What seems to be happening is that he has "glimpses" of what will be. He certainly intended to make it to that battle and be reunited with Éomer, but either of them could have died first. He didn't say it to Théoden, after all.

There are only two "mistakes" in prophesying that I know of. Elrond's heart is against Merry and Pippin going with the Fellowship, and in particular, he speaks against Pippin going. Why? I think he fears for the little guys, but he also seems to have a 'glimpse' of doom. (Though he [and Galadriel?] admit that all foretelling is vain with such darkness covering everything). In reality, this foreboding may be left-over from a version in which Pippin would die at the Black Gate. But it was left in, presumably for a reason. Also, Frodo gets the order of Sam's kids wrong - Merry and Pippin are next to each other in age, and Goldilocks is younger. (Or something - I don't have the family trees in front of me.) I am not counting Saruman's threat that the Shire will wither if he is struck down there, because it was just that - an empty threat.

Conditional prophesying is interesting as well. Galadriel tells Gimli that if he makes it through the war, his fingers will run with gold, though gold will have no power over him. In the current story, (see, I'm on topic!) Gwindor warns Túrin that if he fails Finduilas, his doom will find him. Suggesting that it was possible for him to escape the full doom Morgoth plotted if he had managed to rescue Finduilas.... I certainly see how she could have been protection against marrying Neinor! But who is the match for a dragon's riddling words? (Other than Bilbo, of course ;)) And if the Black Sword had done what the Men of Brethil attempted, how would it have been any different? Wouldn't Finduilas merely have been killed before his eyes, rather than in his absense? So, maybe Túrin couldn't help but fail Finduilas, no matter what he did..... Conditional prophecies are quite tricksy ;).


But if we are speaking of Mandos - anything he says is true. He is the truest-speaking Vala. In other words, he is unlikely to make mistakes, because if he does not know, he keeps his mouth shut ;). The question now is, did he ever make such a prophesy, or was one merely attributed to him? I think it funny to label it "merely myth" when the same can (and should) be said of the Ainulindalie and Valaquenta. Everyone is quite comfortable with the world being sung into existence (through the Ainur) and the names and characters of the Valar as laid out at the beginning. Why a sudden moment of doubt and clamor for "real" history at the end of the story? A decent cosmology should have a beginning and an end (as well as an explanation of the purpose in traveling between the two). All of Tolkien's work points to an end to the story. Something apocolyptic is always mythic, but this doesn't make it any less true. Whether the story is described as philosophic conjecture or a prophesy, it can still be true. Finrod hits near the mark in the Athrabeth, does he not? He postulates the need for Eru to enter into Arda to heal it, though he does not see how this could be. He also says that when it is remade, elves and men will have different roles, and states what they will (or may) be - I think he's telling the truth! He may be wrong in the details, but he understands the story too well to have missed the point entirely. If we can accept his thoughts, why can we not accept Mannish myths? Are they so far off the mark?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 11:42 pm 
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Good post, Mith.

Indeed, a decent cosmology should have a beginning, a middle and an end. It's the formula most pleasing to us humans. We like our stories linear where there is progression towards something. :D

I do, too.

And I do understand how Tolkien, being a man of faith and therefore quite naturally believing in the Second Coming, would slant his seminal work in the direction of the End of Days. Or Arda healed.

However, not being a believer myself, I find no particular satisfaction in such a resolution. Yes, I like happy endings, but I take issue with this (mythological) ending. First because I'm contrary that way, :D second because my chosen perspective is Elf-centric and I am far more intrigued by the fall of the Elves and their metaphysical journey following exile from Paradise. The splintering of the original white Light of Paradise (of spiritual perfection) into many colours, the way in which it splits into facets is a fascination I have with the Silmarillion. Or you might say, I follow the journey for it's own sake. Third, because I don't much care about the Men who wander into the tale, finding them almost incidental and only necessary because, as Tolkien said :after all the author is a man, and if he has an audience they will be Men and Men must come in to our tales .... and I certainly dislike the Túrin written in the Sil and don't believe (despite Voronwë saying he earned compensation for his great grief: a stance with which, to the surprise of no-one, I disagree)) he should be plucked from the limbo of the Halls of Mandos and set down, replete with sword, to deal the coup de grace to Morgoth and then be counted, :shock: with Nienor, among the Valar.

Because of these admittedly emotional, and perhaps illogical (given the sources), reasons I prefer to take the Second Prophecy with a large grain of salt and think of it as more speculative hope rather than the harbinger of what-is-to-come.

Just sayin'

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 11:59 pm 
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Sassy, Sassy, Sassy, my dear Sassy. :hug:

As so often happens, we come from a different direction to the same place. I'm not saying that I think that Túrin actually did earn compensation because of his great grief, although I think that was Tolkien's original perspective when I first included the Second Prophecy as part of the Silmarillion saga. It is my opinion, in analyzing the body of Tolkien's work as he left it (thus including as much of Túrin's story as we have seen, rather then just the fragments in the published Silmarillion, and the statements made in the Athrabeth) that the Second Prophecy is meant to be taken as -- exactly what you just said: speculative hope rather than the harbinger of what-is-to-come. I see no other way of interpreting his specific comment that it was a myth of Númenorean origin, and specifically distinguishing it from Elvish histories. I think it is tied into the Númenorean obsession with immortality; if Túrin can escape the Doom of Men, then so can they. But I recognize that is large leap is certainly will not be accepted by all. :)

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2007 2:48 am 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
Sassy, Sassy, Sassy, my dear Sassy. :hug:

As so often happens, we come from a different direction to the same place.


<gasp>

You mean to say .... that all roads really do lead to Rome?

:D

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I think it is tied into the Númenorean obsession with immortality; if Túrin can escape the Doom of Men, then so can they. But I recognize that is large leap is certainly will not be accepted by all. :)


Very well said, Voronwë. :bow:

It's accepted by me. I think that explanation makes a great deal of sense.
So much sense, in fact, that I think I'll try to work up a post about it.

Soon.

Eventually.

One day.

Maybe.

:D :D :D

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