Excerpt from the

Here begins the Silmarillion or history of the Silmarils

A typescript by J.R.R.Tolkien, c. 1951, edited and published by Christopher Tolkien in MORGOTH’S RING, Houghton Mifflin, 1993.


§1. In the beginning Eru, the One, who in Elvish tongue is named Ilúvatar, made the Ainur of his thought; and they made a great music before him. Of this music the World was made; for Ilúvatar made visible the song of the Ainur, and they beheld it as a light in the darkness. And many of the mightiest among them became enamoured of its beauty and of its history which they saw beginning and unfolding as in a Vision. Therefore Ilúvatar gave to their vision Being, and set it amid the Void, and the Secret Fire was sent to burn at the heart of the World.

§1a. Then those of the Ainur who would entered into the World at the beginning of Time, and behold! It was their task to achieve it and by their labour to fulfill the Vision which they had seen. Long they laboured in the regions of Ea, which are vast beyond the thought of Elves and Men, until in the time appointed was made Arda, the Kingdom of Earth. Then they put on the raiment of Earth, and descended into it and dwelt therein; and they are therein.

§2. These spirits the Elves name the Valar, which is the Powers, and Men have often called them gods. Many lesser spirits of their own kind they brought in their train, both great and small; and some of these Men have confused with the Elves, but wrongly, for they were made before the World, whereas Elves and Men awoke first on Earth, after the coming of the Valar. Yet in the making of Elves and of Men, and in the giving to each of their especial gifts, none of the Valar had any part. Ilúvatar alone was their author; wherefore they are called the Children of Ilúvatar.

§3. The chieftains of the Valar were nine. These were the names of the Nine Gods in the Elvish tongue as it was spoken in Valinor; though they have other or altered names in the speech of the Gnomes, and their names among Men are manifold: Manwë and Melko, Ulmo, Aulë, Mandos, Lórien, Tulkas, Ossë, and Oromë.

§4. Manwë and Melkor were brethren in the thought of Ilúvatar and mightiest of those Ainur who came into the World. But Manwë is the lord of the Gods, and prince of the airs and winds, and ruler of the sky. With him dwells as wife Varda the maker of the stars, immortal lady of the heights, whose name is holy. Fionwë and Ilmarë are their son and daughter. Next in might and closest in friendship to Manwë is Ulmo, lord of waters. He dwells alone in the Outer Seas, but has the government of all waters, seas and rivers, fountains and springs, throughout the earth. Subject to him is Ossë, the master of the seas about the lands of Men; and his wife is Uinen the lady of the sea. Her hair lies spread through all the waters under skies.

§5. Aulë has might but little less than Ulmo. He is a smith and a master of crafts; and his spouse is Yavanna, the giver of fruits and lover of all things that grow. In majesty she is next to Varda, her sister, among the queens of the Valar. She is fair and tall; and often the Elves name her Palúrien, the Lady of the Wide Earth.

§6. The Fanturi were brethren, and are named Mandos and Lorien. Yet these are not their right names, and are the names rather of the places of their abiding. For their right names are seldom spoken save in secret: which are Namo and Irmo. Quoth Rumil. Nurufantur the elder was also called, the master of the houses of the dead, and the gatherer of the spirits of the slain. He forgets nothing, and knows all that shall be, save only what Ilúvatar has hidden; but he speaks only at the command of Manwë. He is the doomsman of the Valar. Vairë the weaver is his wife, who weaves all things that have been in time in her storied webs, and the halls of Mandos that ever widen as the ages pass are clothed therewith. Olofántur the younger of these brethren was also named, the master of visions and of dreams. His gardens in the land of the Gods are the fairest of all places in the world, and filled with many spirits. Estë the pale is his wife, who walks not by day, but sleeps on an island in the dark lake of Lorien. Thence her fountains bring refreshment to the folk of Valinor; yet she comes not to the councils of the Valar, and is not reckoned among their queens.

§7. Strongest of limb, and greatest in deeds of prowess, is Tulkas, who is surnamed Poldórëa the Valiant. He is unclothed in his disport, which is much in wrestling; and he rides no steed, for he can outrun all things that go on feet, and he is tireless. His hair and beard are golden, and his flesh ruddy; his weapons are his hands. He recks little of either past or future, and is of small avail as a counsellor, but a hardy friend. He has great love for Fionwë son of Manwë. His wife is Nessa, sister of Oromë, who is lissom of limb and fleet of foot, and dances in Valinor upon lawns of never-fading green.

§8. Oromë is a mighty lord, and little less than Tulkas in strength, or in wrath, if he be aroused. He loved the lands of earth, while they were still dark, and he left them unwillingly and came last to Valinor; and he comes even yet at times east over the mountains. Of old he was often seen upon the hills and plains. He is a hunter, and he loves all trees; for which reason he is called Aldaron, and by the Gnomes Tauros, the lord of forests. He delights in horses and in hounds, and his horns are loud in the friths and woods that Yavanna planted in Valinor; but he blows them not upon the Middle-earth since the fading of the Elves, whom he loved. Vána is his wife, the ever-young, the queen of flowers, who has the beauty both of heaven and of earth upon her face and in all her works; she is the younger sister of Varda and Palúrien.

§9. But mightier than she is Niënna, Manwë’s sister and Melkor’s. She dwells alone. Pity is in her heart, and mourning and weeping come to her; shadow is her realm and her throne hidden. For her halls are west of West, nigh to the borders of the World and the Darkness, and she comes seldom to Valmar, the city of the gods, where all is glad. She goes rather to the halls of Mandos, which are nearer and yet more northward; and all those who go to Mandos cry to her. For she is a healer of hurts, and turns pain to medicine and sorrow to wisdom. The windows of her house look outward from the Walls of the World.

§10. Last do all name Melkor. But the Gnomes, who suffered most from his evil deeds, will not speak his name, and they call him Morgoth, the black god, and Bauglir, the Constrainer. Great might was given to him by Ilúvatar, and he was coëval with Manwë, and part he had of all the powers of the other Valar; but he turned them to evil uses. He coveted the world and all that was in it, and desired the lordship of Manwë and the realms of all the Gods; and pride and jealousy and lust grew ever in his heart, till he became unlike his brethren. Wrath consumed him, and he begot violence and destruction and excess. In ice and fire was his delight. But darkness he used most in all his evil works, and turned it to fear and a name of dread among Elves and Men.

§10a. Thus it may be seen that there are nine Valar, and Seven queens of the Valar of no less might; for whereas Melkor and Ulmo dwell alone, so also doth Niënna, while Estë is not numbered among the Rulers. But the Seven Great Ones of the Realm of Arda are Manwë and Melkor, Varda, Ulmo, Yavanna, Aulë, and Niënna; for though Manwë is their chief, in majesty they are peers, surpassing beyond compare all others whether of the Valar and their kin, or of any other order that Ilúvatar has conceived.

§10b. With the Valar were other spirits whose being also began before the world: these are the maiar, of the same order as the Great but of less might and majesty. Among them Eonwë the herald of Manwe, and Ilmarë handmaid of Varda were the chief. Many others there are who have no names among Elves or Men, for they appear seldom in forms visible. But great and fair was Melian of the people of Yavanna, who tended once the gardens of Estë, ere she came to Middle-earth. And wise was Olórin, counsellor of Irmo: secret enemy of the secret evils of Melkor, for his bright visions drove away the imaginations of darkness.

§11. Of Melian much is later told; but of Olórin this tale does not speak. In later days he dearly loved the Children of Eru, and took pity on their sorrows. Those who hearkened to him arose from despair; and in their hearts the desire to heal and to renew awoke, and thoughts of fair things that had not yet been but might yet be made for the enrichment of Arda. Nothing he made himself and nothing he possessed, but kindled the hearts of others, and in their delight he was glad.

§12. But not all of the maiar were faithful to the Valar; for some were from the beginning drawn to the power of Melkor, and others he corrupted later to his service. Sauron was the name by which the chief of these was afterwards called, but he was not alone.



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