Tolkien Gateway

asëa

asëa is a Quenya word which also constitutes the first element of the plant name asëa aranion.[1][2] A signification given of asëa is "name of plant 'athelas'".[3]

[edit] Etymology

The meaning and etymology of asëa is a matter of debate. In 1998, William Cloud Hicklin claimed to have "ongoing discussion about the origins of [the word athelas]" with Christopher Tolkien, and wrote in a forum message that:

"a very late note [by Tolkien] (1970 or later) says that Asea [...] was the name in Quenya, regularly adapted and compounded with -las in Sindarin. The plant was known to the medical loremasters of the Noldor. The root is *ATHAYA, 'helpful, kindly, beneficial."[4]

Hicklin's assertion has attracted a widespread attention on the Internet,[5][6][7] and was reprinted in the journal Tyalië Tyelelliéva No. 15 (p. 31).[8] Hicklin's suggested etymology has also been picked up by Helge Fauskanger in his "Quenya-to-English wordlist", where asëa is said to be an adjective meaning "beneficial, helpful, kindly" derived from root ATHAYA.[9][10][note 1]

Another mention of the existence of an unpublished etymology of athelas/asëa occurred in The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion (2005/2008), where the authors referred to a claim by Arden R. Smith. Here it was written that the first element in athelas is connected with Quenya asëa.[11]

With the publication of Tolkien's manuscript "Words, Phrases & Passages in The Lord of the Rings" in 2007, an etymology of athelas/asëa was published, and editor Christopher Gilson wrote in a comment that this etymology is the source of the claim in The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion.

Since Tolkien's manuscript date from the late 1950s and early 1960s (and does not include any mention of the root ATHAYA), Hicklin's claim of an unpublished etymology dating from the 1970s remains unverified in published sources.

In his analysis of the Quenya words in "Words, Phrases & Passages in The Lord of the Rings", Petri Tikka has tentatively suggested that asëa could mean "foil" (gloss followed by a question mark).[12][note 2]

[edit] See also


Notes

  1. This is given by Helge Fauskanger as the first meaning of asëa. The second meaning is given as "2) asëa (þ) noun, name of the healing plant called in Sindarin athelas", referring to J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 148.
  2. Tikka's reasoning apparently stems from a literal translation of asëa aranion as "kingsfoil". Tolkien's translation of asëa aranion as "asëa of the Kings" is given in J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 100, and the note which says "athelas 'kingsfoil' appears on p. 49.

[edit] References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Houses of Healing"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 49
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings: Eldarin Roots and Stems", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 148
  4. Athelas (message from William Cloud Hicklin, dated 26 October 1998) at Rec.arts.books.tolkien (accessed 13 May 2011)
  5. Annotated LotR Project: Flight to the Ford at Forums.theonering.com (accessed 14 May 2011)
  6. Message 32497 (dated 4 October 2005) at Elfling (accessed 14 May 2011)
  7. Plants & Trees (cf. Athelas) at The Thain's Book (accessed 14 May 2011)
  8. Lisa Star, "A List of Tolkien's Unpublished and Slightly Published Manuscripts" (dated August 2002) at Reocities.com (accessed 14 May 2011)
  9. Quettaparma Quenyallo at Ardalambion (accessed 14 May 2011)
  10. Quenya Wordlists at Ardalambion (accessed 14 May 2011)
  11. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 183
  12. Petri Tikka, "Quenya words in Parma Eldalambaron 17" at Men Eldalambínen: A Place in Elvish (accessed 14 May 2011)