Friday, April 12, 2013


I'm still really intrigued by Gil-galad, but I haven't been able to find much more about him.  Apparently (I found this info on Tolkien Gateway, but it says it's referenced from The History of Middle Earth, vol. XII), Tolkien's final notes on Gil-galad's parentage reveal that he was actually the son of Orodreth, and Tolkien changed Orodreth from son of Finarfin to song of Angrod, and therefore grandson of Finarfin. Confusing, I know. It says Christopher Tolkien just kind of went with what made sense with the text of The Silmarillion which was Tolkien's previous idea of Gil-galad as the son of Fingon.

However, if Gil-galad was finalized as a child of Orodreth, then Finduilas would have been his sister.  What if Tolkien had included Gil-galad in The Children of Hurin??? Oh, the possibilities! I think I like Gil-galad as Fingon's son better, though. It makes him seem a little more connected rather than some obscure, great-grandson of Finarfin, an elf who didn't even leave Valinor.

Also, I looked up the part of The Fall of Gil-galad that Sam recites at Weathertop.  It's in The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Knife in the Dark."

Gil-galad was an Elven-king.
Of him the harpers sadly sing:
the last whose realm was fair and free
between the Mountains and the Sea.

His sword was long, his lance was keen,
his shining helm afar was seen;
the countless stars of heaven's field
were mirrored in his silver shield.

But long ago he rode away,
and where he dwelleth none can say;
for into darkness fell his star
in Mordor where the shadows are.

Later, Frodo reveals that Gil-galad means "Starlight" in Elvish (translated as "Star of Radiance" in The Silmarillion glossary).  I thought it was interesting that there's another Elvish star reference, in a way akin to Earendil.  What's up with all the stars?  Why are they so special? I think they're a beautiful analogy, but I want your thoughts!


Ashley Cauley said...

I think it's really cool how Tolkien associates the Elves with stars. When they were awakened in Middle-earth by that lake there was only starlight, no sun. Somewhere in The Silmarillion it mentions that the moon was made for the Elves and the sun for Men. It's a little difficult to make conjectures about why this association was important to Tolkien. Maybe it's because Elves are associated with Faerie and magic, and nighttime has magical connotations.

Not all Elves are tied to starlight though. In The Return of the King near the end Eomer is explaining to Gimli that he thinks Arwen is more beautiful that Galadriel. Gimli says something about Eomer loving the Evening (because Arwen came to Minas Tirith at night and has dark hair) but he will always love the Morning (because Galadriel is full of the radiance of the sun and her hair is golden). Something to think about.

Michael Lott said...

To the elves the meaning of stars is completely different from that seen by men. For the longest time many of the elves, the Sindarian and Avari as well as some of the Teleri lived only under the stars. In this way they are almost attached to them, or become people of the stars in a way. This mirrors men being people of the sun, that is the children who came during the age of the sun.

However I think that perhaps stars are somewhat symbolic of the west. The elves as we know have a curious relationship with stars, and then there are the 7 stars that make up the crest of the Noldorians which was then carried over to the Gondorians. Also interestingly 7 stars are present on the west door of Moria right above the hammer and anvil. I am wondering if this is perchance significant?

Megan said...

Here's a good description (well-cited, as far as I can tell) about Gil-Galad's parentage:


In the Silmarillion he is definitely Fingon's son, though Christopher Tolkien apparently admits in "The Peoples of Middle-earth" (HOME) that this was a mistake of his (I personally prefer unmarried Fingon because reasons).

At one point (seen in "The Return of the Shadow" part of the HOME series), Gil-galad is meant to be the son of one of the Feanorions, but only Maglor, Caranthir and Curufin have wives.

JRR Tolkien's final word seems to have been that Gil-galad was descended of the house of Finarfin son of Orodreth son of Angrod son of Finarfin.

Megan said...

This link is also good: