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Questions about Elostirion

Phantom718

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I was thinking of the White Towers recently, and specifically Elostirion and the palantir that was housed there. Then my imagination kicked in and some questions surfaced...

1. Was Elendil the last of the dunedain to look through the palantir toward the West? Or did Aragaorn ever use it? Did Aragorn ever even visit the white towers?
2. Where was it written that the towers remained after Elrond took the palantir to the West? I know the hobbits founded "Undertowers" there in the FA, but what was ever said about the towers themselves?

I for one, find this all very sad in a way. I liken it to how it might feel visiting Annuminas or Fornost before they were rebuilt, where you'd just see an abandoned, eerie place that reminded you of what once was. I'd imagine visiting the white towers long after the TA ended would have the same vibe.
 

Squint-eyed Southerner

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1. I don't know that there's any statement about the later kings using it. They apparently had their hands full, and were mostly concerned with the Stones at Annuminas and Amon Sul. As for the Dunedain after the fall of the Northern Kingdom, Note 16 in the essay on "The Palantiri" in UT has this:

Hereditary right to use it would no doubt still reside in the 'heir of Isildur', the recognized chieftain of the Dunedain, and descendant of Arvedui. But it is not known whether any of them, including Aragorn, ever looked into it, desiring to gaze into the lost West.

2. I am also unaware of any mention of what became of the towers, but wouldn't think they would be torn down. Having been built by the Elves, I'd imagine they would be viewed with a certain reverence, similar to the way the Rohirrim viewed the Halifierien, even after the removal of Elendil's tomb.

It could be that the hobbits who moved to Undertowers agreed to maintain the walls, at least, in exchange for the extension of the Shire boundaries to the tower hills, in the same sort of way as the original agreement to maintain the Road and Brandywine Bridge by the first hobbits to enter the Shire.

Of course, the towers and walls were built by the Elves, so may have needed little or no maintenance. On the other hand -- and this is more speculation -- dwarves were presumably not included in King Elessar's making the Shire off limits to "Men", so they could have played a role in maintaining the towers -- especially if Gimli had any influence on the area.

The closest we ever get to the towers is in a discarded draft, in which Gandalf and proto-Frodo are pursued by the Black Riders west, and trapped in the Tower Hills. The only vestiges of that storyline are Frodo's dream at Crickhollow, and Gandalf's cryptic remark at Rivendell that "it may have been better so".

One thing I've always wondered: why three towers?
 

Olorgando

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One thing I've always wondered: why three towers?
If I recall correctly, someone actually started an entire thread dedicated to the number three ...
Ah, right, found it! ;)

 

Squint-eyed Southerner

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The only scenario I can think of that would fit what I was talking about there is something like this:

"Guess what, Elendil? We've built you a tower -- now you can look across the Sea to the Lonely Isle! Have fun!"

"Um, sorry, guys, but not tall enough -- all I could see was ocean."

"Oops. Well, we'll fix that."

"Here ya go -- really tall one this time. Enjoy!"

"Er, I hate to bring this up, but. . ."

"#×%&☆!!! OK, OK (grumble)."

"Hey, whaddaya know! Ha. 'Third time's the charm', as my old Dad used to say."

:p
 
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Phantom718

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Perhaps a dumb question but wasn't the Elostirion stone only for "gazing" in Elendil's case? I understand the nostalgia feeling that he might have (I mentioned my own in the OP), but wouldn't it seem kind of cruel to Elendil (or any later kings) to view the Lonely Isle, knowing they couldn't go there or actively communicate? Was it just a token of his faithfulness to the Valar and his alliance with Gil-Galad?
 

Olorgando

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As per the Silmarillion, section "Of The Rings of Power and the Third Age", the Palantiri are stated to have been a gift of the Eldar to Elendil's father Amandil in NĂșmenor, for the comfort of the Faithful. Elendil then brought them to Middle-earth at the destruction of NĂșmenor and the making-round of Arda near the end of the Second Age. At the beginning of the same paragraph mentioning the gift of the Palantiri to Elendil is given the (surmised) origin of the towers:

"It is said that the towers of Emyn Beraid were not built indeed by the Exiles of NĂșmenor, but were raised by Gil-galad for Elendil, his friend; and the Seeing Stone of Emyn Beraid was set in Elostirion, the tallest of the towers. Thither Elendil would repair, and thence he would gaze out over the sundering seas, when the yearning of exile was upon him; and it is believed that thus he would at whiles see far away even the Tower of AvallĂłnĂ« upon EressĂ«a, where the Master-stone abode, and yet abides." Thi sight must have been along the lost "straight path" that only the Elven ships of Cirdan could still take (and was taken by special dispensation by Bilbo and Frodo, probably Gimli and perhaps Sam).

Now neither Elendil nor any who escaped NĂșmenor's destruction with him were exiles from the Lonely Isle! So that yearning must be viewed as a remnant of the unsateable yearning for the Immortal Lands, forbidden to mortals. Not really a healthy yearning, after what happened to NĂșmenor ...

Those towers must also have been built fairly quickly, certainly by medieval human standards. The Realms in Exile (a very permanent one!) Arnor and Gondor were founded in 3320 Second Age; Sauron attacked Gondor and took Minas Ithil in 3429 SA, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men was formed in 3430 SA, 110 years after the founding of the RiE. After that, Gil-galad and Elendil would have been quite preoccupied with preparations for the war on Sauron, and any building would have been suspended.
 

Alcuin

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As I wrote earlier, I’m just passing through today. This thread appeared in the Tolkien Monthly Newsletter, and I felt compelled to respond.

The answer to the purpose of the Elostirion stone is found, I believe, in its origin. The Seven PalantĂ­ri were gifts of the Eldar to Elendil’s father Amandil, last Lord of AndĂșniĂ«, when Ar-GimilzĂŽr, twenty-third king of NĂșmenor, forbade visits to his kingdom by the Eldar of EressĂ«a. The palantĂ­ri must therefore have been smuggled to Amandil on the last Elven ship, which probably came in secret. Whatever the circumstances, think about why the Elves of EressĂ«a would give these precious artifacts to their friend Amandil.

True, the stones allowed the Faithful to remain secretly and securely in communication with one another, first in exile in NĂșmenor, then in exile in Middle-earth. But the Elostirion stone, Elendil’s stone, only gazed west: “it looked only to the Sea.” NĂșmenor was hidden beneath the waves: what was west of that? EressĂ«a; Tirion, the origin of the stones where FĂ«anor made them, and the Master Stone yet resided in the Tower of Tirion; and OiolossĂ« among the PelĂłri. The answer lies, I think, in the Master Stone of Tirion, and perhaps in EressĂ«a: the palantĂ­r of the DĂșnedain that came to be known as the Elendil Stone, kept in the Elostirion of the White Towers Gil-galad built for his friend along the common border of their realms, was used to communicate with the Eldar of EressĂ«a, the friends of Elendil’s family since the First Age.

Perhaps Elendil met and spoke with and touched (shaking hands, for instance) the Eldar of Eressëa before they departed forever under the threats of the tyrant Ar-GimilzÎr, and perhaps not; but his father, Amandil, certainly knew them face-to-face, for the stones were a gift to him. And through that particular stone, Amandil and later his son and heir Elendil communed with their friends in the Uttermost West even after it was removed from the Circles of the World. Their communication with the Eldar was not broken, and though impaired by uncrossable distance, remained intact.

I suspect Elendil’s sons, AnĂĄrion and particularly Isildur, continued this friendship which had passed from father to son for around thirty generations of Edain from their first meetings with the Eldar in Beleriand. It may even be – and I strongly suspect it was – that Isildur’s older sons also began acquaintance and friendship through the palantĂ­r with those who knew their forefathers back into days that were recorded by Men but no longer remembered: so the DĂșnedain were enriched with the knowledge and grace of the Eldar of Eldamar, and the Eldar remained in friendship with the DĂșnedain they loved.

But Isildur’s three older sons died in the battle across the Anduin from the Gladden Fields, and Isildur himself died in the Gladden Fields. Who then would introduce young Valandil to the Eldar kith of his kin? No one. Communication between the Eldar of EressĂ«a and Eldamar and the DĂșnedain was forever broken.

In after days, the Eldar of Middle-earth would gaze into the stone, and there they might see a vision of Taniquetil, of Oiolossë, where Varda and Manwë sat. If they communicated with their kindred in the Far West, we are not told.

But when Elrond departed Middle-earth, he took with him the Stone of Elendil, severing forever any communication between Middle-earth and the Uttermost West.
 

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