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What was Melian doing in Nan Elmoth?

Cloudhauler

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Did she remember Elwë from his visit to Valinor and seek him out on the march?

Was she performing some task for Yavanna?

I’m just wondering if there is any official reason for her being in Nan Elmoth at the time she and Elwë fell in love...
 
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Galin

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The tale tells that in the time when the Quendi awoke Melian went to Middle-earth and there filled the silence of Middle-earth before the dawn with her voice and the voices of her birds.

That's what she was doing anyway :)

Can't recall at the moment if there's more!
 
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Ron Simpson

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A little off-topic, but I can't understand her attraction to the Elf in the first place. Yes, love is blind yadda, yadda.... but she was of the Maia after all. Wasn't he a bit below her station? (Same goes for Beren & Luthien, and Arwen & Aragorn - but less so for the latter)
 

Alcuin

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The intent (or foreknowledge) of Eru, perhaps: Through the union of Melian with Thingol, Lúthien came to be, and through the union of Lúthien and Beren, the strain of the Maiar entered into the race of Men. Note the stress on Melian’s singing and birds; and that same stress on Lúthien’s singing and especially nightingales (Tinúviel): Melian was in the Ainulindalë, the song at the beginning of Creation. The Valar were defined in their beginning by the parts they played in that primeval song, meant to be a song of joy in the presence of and praise to Eru: Melian also played a part.

Compare this to Tom Bombadil. Exactly what is he? Not Eru: Tolkien tells us that. Not a Vala, either. In the context of the story, especially since Gandalf at the end of The Lord of the Rings goes for a long visit with him, a “moss-gatherer”, after Gandalf’s labors are completed, I think he was a Maia. He also sings, so much so that the four hobbits at his dinner table “were singing merrily, as if it was easier and more natural than talking.”

Tolkien understands the power of song. We ignore it at our peril.

A little off-topic, but I can't understand her attraction to the Elf in the first place. Yes, love is blind yadda, yadda.... but she was of the Maia after all. Wasn't he a bit below her station? (Same goes for Beren & Luthien, and Arwen & Aragorn - but less so for the latter)
Yes. In every case the woman “marries down” and the man “married up”. Melian marries Elu Thingol. Lúthien marries Beren. Idril marries Tuor. Arwen marries Aragorn. Every one of these women is far, far older than her mate: the reverse of the usual state of affairs. And the relationship Melian::Thingol is mirrored in the relationship Galadriel::Celeborn, where the woman, while apparently taking the “lower” position of authority, is in fact far more powerful than her spouse, whom she advises and corrects. (Melian is Galadriel’s mentor in Middle-earth: much of what Galadriel does is presaged by the actions of Melian: e.g., Galadriel’s defense of Lórien reflects a later, lesser version of the Girdle of Melian around Doriath.)
 
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Olorgando

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A little off-topic, but I can't understand her attraction to the Elf in the first place.
That got things to rattling about in deep, dusty cellars of my memory (I finished HoMe about 20 years ago, with the publication of PoMe, and have only selectively browsed in those books since). Elendil and Thingol. Both were called “tall”. According to my German “Lexicon” Elendil was 240 centimeters tall, or seven feet ten-and-a-half inches (!!!). Way beyond even the biggest centers of the NBA! And finally, I’ve found it: “Morgoth’s Ring” Part Two “The Annals of Aman”, entry for (“Valian Year?”) 1152, §74: “But [Elwë Singollo] was a great lord and noble, tallest in stature of all the Children of Ilúvatar, …”.

If this is to be valid even to today, then Elwë must have been taller than the tallest man (and human) ever reliably recoded in human history (and the Guinness Book of World Records), Robert Wadlow (22 February 1918 – 15 July 1940), whose greatest height was measured at 272 centimeters or 8 feet 11.1 inches. That’s more than half my (former) height on top!

So maybe Melian just had a preference for really tall men?
 

Ron Simpson

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Olorgando: your suggestion was a bit of a stretch (ahem). But at any rate, the attraction certainly wasn't about his humility. He came off as someone who was a bit high on himself and ignored wise counsel (and treated Beren horribly to boot).
But perhaps the 'light of the trees' had something to do with it. I just read (in another thread) that the light of Aman was reputed to produce physical, metaphysical, and spiritual changes in those exposed to it. Perhaps having been transformed by that light, Thingol was somehow elevated to a higher status (Singollo 2.0 ?) that made him more attractive to, and more on-par with Melian. Could that fly .......
 
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Alcuin

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Elendil the Tall, son of Amandil (last) Lord of Andúnië can be 7 feet tall or 7 feet eleven inches tall: I don’t think it matters. Elu Thingol can be taller yet: an inch taller, or 9 feet tall: I don’t think that matters, either. Poor Robert Wadlow died because his leg brace caused an infection, but he failed to notice until it became septic (he was apparently a very gentle, kind person); but Tolkien is not writing history: he’s writing a story about Elves, his Elves, inspired by the languages they spoke, and in the process creating a myth to go with them, a myth for English speakers. Besides, without rigorous measures, in the real world people can’t agree about whether a person was this tall or that tall; whether his eyes were brown or blue or green; whether his hair was black or brown or red; whether he did this first or that first, or often what he said last. (What were Admiral Nelson’s actual last words? What did Edwin Stanton really say when Lincoln died? Who knows? Does it matter?)

Elendil the Tall was really tall: a head taller than most Númenóreans, apparently, and they were a really tall bunch of folks. Thingol was taller still: Elves who knew both Elendil and Thingol could confirm it. And one thing about Elves, at least until the end of the Third Age: they were reliable witnesses with excellent memories, and none of them ever met anyone taller than Thingol, not even Elendil. But Elendil was still really tall, even for a Númenórean.

Now how tall does that make Aragorn? And if Melian was attracted to Thingol in part because he was incredibly tall, was her great-great-great-granddaughter Arwen attracted to Aragorn in part because he was unusually tall?

Olorgando: your suggestion was a bit of a stretch (ahem). But at any rate, the attraction certainly wasn't about his humility. He came off as someone who was a bit high on himself and ignored wise counsel.
A lot of fathers don’t see clearly where their daughters are concerned, especially if they don’t like her boyfriend! Thingol was very wise indeed, but Melian was wiser and saw further; and she waited to contradict him, gently, when Beren and Lúthien were no longer able to overhear her. Likewise, Celeborn the Wise lost his temper when the Company of the Ring told him about the Balrog in Moria; Galadriel gently remonstrated him, though unlike Thingol (likely Celeborn’s uncle, whom he had known personally: he might even have been witness to Melian’s remonstration of Thingol), he accepted his wife’s redirection.
 

Ron Simpson

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Whilst Thingol may have been wise, he was also both prideful and stubborn, and those latter qualities eventually cost him his life - and in a rather ignominious fashion. You’ve got to admit that he made some pretty dumb choices at critical junctures (IMHO). Here are a few that come to mind:

1. Battle of UnNumbered Tears: only permitted Beleg to go. Doriath’s participation would certainly have tipped the scales for the Noldor (notwithstanding the ‘treachery of men’). Wasn’t Thingol’s reasoning faulty since he knew that only the sons of Feanor participated in the kinslaying?
2. Silmaril Dowry: clearly a bad choice that ensnared him in the doom. He did not relent or call off the quest despite Melian's objections.
3. OverBearing Haughtiness: How about calmly placing the Nauglamir on a table, walking upstairs to the throne room and summoning the guard to detain those greedy dwarf-smiths instead of challenging them alone? Didn't think that one through. ( calls to mind Proverbs 16:18: “pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall “)

I’ve always thought that Thingol’s main beef was that he didn’t care for all those flashy, jumped-up Noldorin princes tramping around his neck of the woods. But in the end, Thingol was Thingol because JRRT wrote him that way: and I can accept that! I'll stop here.

The thread's original question was “what was Melian doing in Nan Elmoth”. I think she was slumming.
 

Olorgando

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Checking sources is rather helpful (I hope) before blabbing away … 🙄
Had you asked me to spontaneously tell you which Valie Melian was associated with, I would have confidently answered "Yavanna".
And been dead wrong. 😬
Both of my English-language Companions / Guides concur in that when she left Middle-earth after Thingol's hröa death, she returned to the Gardens of Lórien.
So over to the Valaquenta part of the published Sil, part "Of the Maiar":
"Melian was the name of a Maia who served both Vána [Oromë's spouse] and Estë [Irmo-Lórien's spouse]; she dwelt long in Lórien, …"
"Wisest of the Maiar was Olórin. He too dwelt in Lórien, but his ways took him often to the house of Nienna [sister of the Fëanturi Námo and Irmo, mirroring Ulmo as being the only of the Valar/ier to be unwed], and of her he learned pity and patience."
So Melian could very well have counseled Olórin on at least some of the ways of Middle-earth before he left on his Third Age quest against Sauron, as she had already done for Galadriel back in the First Age when the latter lived in Doriath. Making her the most influential Maia against both Morgoth and Sauron, come to think of it.
But Alcuin in his above post of 05 October certainly touched on a central point about the Music of the Ainur, and their being bound by it to perhaps an extraordinary degree. Discussions to that effect (and how this "fating" for the Valar / Maiar differed from what the Music "fated" for Elves, and especially Men) were quite active when I joined this site in late August 2019 - active and extensive, so I won't even try to recapitulate them here. But one could hypothesize that Melian was "sung" into her union with Thingol (sung it herself?), leading to a (thinning) strain of Elvendom (and even an "angelic" one, discussions of this topic are very recent) into the Secondborn, the otherwise "scruffier", more fragile and far less skilled of the Eruhini who were nevertheless after the end of the Third Age given the rule over Middle-earth.
After Gandalf had had a hand in eliminating the three most dangerous "supernaturals" left over in Middle-earth by those Valinoreans who time and again were in dereliction of their duty, the dragon Smaug, the Balrog of Moria, and Sauron (and for that matter the much-diminished Saruman).
 

Alcuin

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Whilst Thingol may have been wise, he was also both prideful and stubborn, and those latter qualities eventually cost him his life - and in a rather ignominious fashion.
All too true. Pride as a self-destructive fault is a recurring theme. It was pride that overcame Saruman just before Gandalf the White broke his staff and expelled him from the Istari. It was pride that led Denethor to immolate himself when Gandalf reminded him that his proper place was leading his city in battle. And it was pride that Éowyn overcame in the gardens of the Houses of Healing that led to her marriage with Faramir.

Lest we forget, in Silmarillion it was pride that led Sauron to eschew repentance when he surrendered himself to Eönwë, only sneak away as soon as no one was looking. It was pride that led the Kings of Númenor to rebel against the Valar. Ar-Pharazôn is an exemplar of pride: he took Sauron to Númenor, where Sauron could otherwise have never come; he expended all to build the Great Armament to assault Valinor; and in his insufferable pride, he landed in Eldamar and sealed the fate of his island, his people, his kingdom – and himself. And ultimately, I suspect, it was pride (and arrogance: they go together, along with hate) that led Melkor to his primeval rebellion.
 

Olorgando

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The thread's original question was “what was Melian doing in Nan Elmoth”. I think she was slumming.
To go provocative (though not considering my generally voiced opinion of a massive dereliction of duty by the Valinoreans), Melian wasn't slumming. She was just near bored to death (an interesting if unusual concept for a former Ainur) hanging around that gated community of pathetic wimps west of the Pelori. Nothing written tells us how long she had been in Middle-earth before the Elves awoke / were discovered by Oromë / the gated community wimps finally got their act together / stomped on Melkor / led most of the Elves westwards (into their wimpy gated community, perhaps not their best decision …)
 

Grond

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While we are discussing pride, let us not forget the most prideful of all in Tolkien's world... the ignoble Feanor who wouldn't share the light of the Silmarils to restore the murder off The Trees.

As to Melian, how about the old country song, "Looking for love in all the wrong places." I also feel Thingol is IMHO, the next most prideful, most arrogant, self centered (did I say arrogant yet?) of all of the Eldar and me least favorite character as well.
 

Olorgando

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As to Melian, how about the old country song, "Looking for love in all the wrong places."
Or JRRT has here touched on that subject of interminable age, "we'll iron out hubby's remaining kinks over time."
Just having found the longish letter I had been searching for, #43 to his son Michael from 6-8 March 1941 (the year Michael got married):
"If [women] have any delusions it is that they can 'reform' men."
Actually, I was looking for another quote, but failed to find it either in letter #43 nor in any other letter he wrote to his children, that were included in the book "Letters". Nearing a "tearing my hair out" threshold (very bad idea with my thinning hair!) I finally grabbed Carpenter's "Biography" and lo! - there it is, Part Four 1925-1949(i), chapter 6 Northmoor Road:
"To a son contemplating marriage he wrote: '... If the other side's claims really are unreasonable (as they are at times between the dearest lovers and most loving married folk) they are much better met by above board refusal and "fuss" than subterfuge."
He - in the story that would mean Eru - should have told Melian that!
But that brings us circling back to that Music of the Ainur, as so often; "Ainulindalë":
"For the Children of Ilúvatar were conceived by him alone, and they came with the third theme, and were not in the theme which Ilúvatar propounded at the beginning, and none of the Ainur had part in their making. … beings other than themselves, strange and free, …"
So even Melian the Maia had to learn about her hubby the hard, tedious way. 😞😭
 

Olorgando

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(COMMENT)As to Melian, how about the old country song, "Looking for love in all the wrong places."(/COMMENT)

Almost fell off my chair laughing. I concur wholeheartedly ......
This is weird. When I reply to your post, I find text there with BB code (I'd guess) enclosed in square brackets which appear to make this text invisible to me in your post. :oops:
I'll replace the square brackets with parentheses so you know what I'm writing about … 🤔
 

Miguel

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I also feel Thingol is IMHO, the next most prideful, most arrogant, self centered (did I say arrogant yet?) of all of the Eldar
Celegorm and Curufin probably as much if not worse. Caranthir is right there too but not as bad i think, idk.
 

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