Tolkien Gateway


The name Ecthelion refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Ecthelion (disambiguation).
Anna Lee - Ecthelion.jpg
"Ecthelion" by Anna Lee
Biographical Information
TitlesLord of the House of the Fountain
PositionWarden of the Great Gate
LanguageQuenya, Sindarin
DeathF.A. 510
Fall of Gondolin
HouseHouse of the Fountain
Physical Description
ClothingSilver-spiked helmet, silver garb
GalleryImages of Ecthelion
"And high and noble as was Elemmakil, greater and more lordly was Ecthelion, Lord of the Fountains, at that time Warden of the Great Gate. All in silver was he clad, and upon his shining helm there was set a spike of steel pointed with a diamond; and as his esquire took his shield it shimmered as if it were bedewed with drops of rain, that were indeed a thousand studs of crystal."
Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin"

Ecthelion was an Elf-lord of Gondolin, leader of the People of the Fountain and slayer of Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs. He was also at one point Warden of the Great Gate of Gondolin. Ecthelion had the most beautiful voice and greatest musical talent with the flute of all the people of Gondolin.


[edit] History

Glorfindel and Ecthelion by Turner Mohan

In the year F.A. 472, Ecthelion fought alongside Turgon in the battle Nirnaeth Arnoediad, leading a wing of Gondolin's forces. Upon the defeat of the Noldor, he defended a flank as Turgon retreated.[1] Surviving the disastrous battle, Ecthelion returned towards the Hidden City where he next appeared as Warden of the Great Gate.

Twenty-three years after Nirnaeth Arnoediad, Tuor and Voronwë traveled towards the Hidden City. After being led by Elemmakil through the Seven Gates, Ecthelion appeared before them. He is portrayed as great and lordly, all clad in silver and having a bright glance. Upon his helm there was a spike with a diamond point, and he bore a shield which shimmered as "a thousand studs of crystal". At first denying passage for Tuor, he allows it after the latter shows the arms of Vinyamar and mentions Ulmo, saying that the Lord of the Fountains should not oppose the Lord of the Waters.[2]

In the year F.A. 510, Morgoth attacked the city. Ecthelion battled there against Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs in the very square of the King, where they slew each other. His death is only mentioned in the Quenta Silmarillion, but the own text explains that much more is told in The Fall of Gondolin.[3]

[edit] Other versions of the legendarium

[edit] The Book of Lost Tales

The most detailed text about Ecthelion and his deeds during the Fall of Gondolin is the chapter "The Fall of Gondolin", in The Book of Lost Tales Part Two. There it is told that he is the lord of the house of the Fountain, one of the twelve houses of the Gondothlim. Its people found delight in diamonds and the silver of their arrays was most beautiful to the sight.[4]:173

Death of Ecthelion, Lord of the Fountain by Mysilvergreen

During the siege of the city, Ecthelion led his folk into battle accompanied by the music of their flutes, and great were the damages caused to the enemy by their long, bright swords.[4]:173 He and his forces made their entrance from the South part of the city, after previously being held in reserve. So terrible was his voice when commanding the drawing of the swords and the killings which followed, that his name became a terror among the enemy and a war-cry to the Eldar. Valiantly fighting side by side with Tuor and his house of the Wing, they drove away the orcs until the gate was almost regained. It is said that Ecthelion and his house of the Fountain slew more orcs than had ever been slain, in all the battles of elves and orcs combined. Ecthelion killed three Balrogs and his sword did "hurt to their fire". However, dragons reinforced Melko's army. Outnumbered, they had to retreat. When doing so, Ecthelion's left arm was wounded and his shield fell to earth. Tuor carried him away as they joined the remaining leaders in the Square of the King.[4]:180-182

In that place the great Fountain of the King stood and Ecthelion regained his strength by drinking from it. As seven dragons lead the enemy's forces towards the Square, the remaining army of Gondolin began retreat. All but Ecthelion, who remained near the fountain in a stand which was remembered as the most valiant "in all the songs or in any tale". There Gothmog lord of Balrogs beated down Egalmoth, but Ecthelion came inbetween despite being pale as steel. During the duel, Ecthelion was wounded in the hand and lost his sword. Gothmog then was about to deliver a blow with his whip when Ecthelion jumped and drove the spike of his helmet into Gothmog's body. Twining his legs with the enemy's, both fell into the Fountain of the King. Gothmog died there with Ecthelion, sanked because of his steel armor.[4]:183-184

Later, during the escape of the Exiles of Gondolin, the young Eärendel asked about him, saying that he wished Ecthelion were there, "to play to me on his flute, or make me willow whistles! Perchance has he gone on ahead?" After he was informed of Ecthelion's death he "wept bitterly" and said that he cared no more to see the streets of Gondolin.[4]:191

[edit] Aredhel's escort

While composing the chapter about Maeglin, Tolkien considered Ecthelion, Glorfindel and Egalmoth as the escort of Aredhel when she left the Hidden City in his way to visit Fingon.[5]:318 However, in the published Silmarillion, Christopher Tolkien didn't mention any of the escorts of Aredhel, based on a note in which his father discuss about the motives of Celegorm and Curufin of not sending any message to Gondolin about Aredhel. Tolkien decided that it was necessary not to name the most eminent and bravest chieftains as Aredhel's escort, as they would have seek for her beyond the Bridge of Esgalduin.[5]:328

[edit] Etymology

With the development of the Elvish languages, the name Ecthelion had its own evolution.

The early Gnomish conception meant "Lord of the Fountains",[6] from ecthel ("issue of water, spring").[7] Its Qenya cognate was Ektelion.[8]

In the Noldorin stage of the name, it is composed from ehtë ("spear") and thela ("point" of spear).[9] Put together they could be translated as "Spear-point" or "Spear-head".

The Sindarin version should have been Ægthelion, derived from aeg ("sharp") + thel ("intent, resolve") + -on (masculine suffix). However, Tolkien wrote that the early Ecthelion sounded good and it had already been used in publication (with the name of two ruling stewards in The Lord of the Rings), so he let it as an archaic form of the proper Sindarin name.[5]:318-319 Ægthelion can be translated as "One with Sharp Will".[10]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin", pp. 50-51
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "III. The Fall of Gondolin"
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Three. The Wanderings of Húrin and Other Writings not forming part of the Quenta Silmarillion: III. Maeglin"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, "I-Lam na-Ngoldathon: The Grammar and Lexicon of the Gnomish Tongue", in Parma Eldalamberon XI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne), p. 31
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "Appendix: Names in the Lost Tales – Part II", entry "Ecthelion"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Alphabet of Rúmil & Early Noldorin Fragments", in Parma Eldalamberon XIII (edited by Carl F. Hostetter, Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, Patrick H. Wynne, and Bill Welden), p. 104
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entries "EK-", "STELEG-"
  10. David Salo (2004), A Gateway to Sindarin, p. 339
Twelve Houses of the Gondothlim
King (leader: Turgon) · Wing (Tuor) · Mole (Meglin) · Swallow (Duilin) · Heavenly Arch (Egalmoth) · Pillar (Penlod) · Tower of Snow (Penlod) · Tree (Galdor) · Golden Flower (Glorfindel) · Fountain (Ecthelion) · Harp (Salgant) · Hammer of Wrath (Rog)