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Sylphs

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"sylphine maidens of the Air
whose wings in Varda's heavenly hall
in rythmic movement beat and fall
"
The Lay of Leithian, 4077-9

Sylphs were creatures only mentioned fleetingly in the earliest versions of the tales of Arda and nomenclature by the Eldar.[1][2]

Contents

[edit] Characteristics and divisions

The sylphs were part of what apparently was a three-fold division of the lesser Ainu spirits: sylphs (spirits of the air), sprites (spirits of the earth), and water spirits.[1]

Manwë had "two clans of air-spirits",[3] a basic division of two groups of sylphs which, with their Elvish names, are given as follow:

An individual Súruli mentioned by name was Ilinsor, steersman of the Moon. Ilinsor "loved the snows and the starlight and aided Varda in many of her works".[6]

[edit] Commentary

It has been suggested that the concept "air spirits" is used "metaphorically [...] for the winds that these spirits govern".[7]

[edit] The later legendarium

Sylphs are not mentioned in the later versions of the legendarium. Many of the classes of beings references in The Book of Lost Tales were superseded by the concept of the Maiar, which were not introduced until the reworking of the Annals of Valinor into the Annals of Aman.[8]

[edit] Inspiration

Patrick H. Wynne and Christopher Gilson have noted that Tolkien's use of sylphs (and related spirits) is likely influenced by Paracelsus's chart of four elementals: sylphs (air), pygmies or gnomes (earth), nymphs (water), and salamanders (fire).[9]

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, "The Coming of the Valar and the Building of Valinor", p. 66
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lays of Beleriand, "III. The Lay of Leithian: Canto XIII (Beren and Lúthien in Angband)", pp. 301, 306 (§4077-9)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 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), pp. 57, 68
  4. 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
  5. 5.0 5.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Index
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, "The Tale of the Sun and Moon", pp. 192-5
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Early Elvish Poetry and Pre-Fëanorian Alphabets", in Parma Eldalamberon XVI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, Patrick H. Wynne, Carl F. Hostetter and Bill Welden), p. 59
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Two. The Annals of Aman: Notes [on Section 1]"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Early Qenya and The Valmaric Script", in Parma Eldalamberon XIV (edited by Carl F. Hostetter, Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, Patrick H. Wynne, and Bill Welden), p. 8
Legendary Races of Arda
 Animals:  Dumbledors · Gorcrows · Hummerhorns · Pards · Swans of Gorbelgod · Turtle-fish
Dragon-kind:  Great glow-worms · Sea-serpents · Spark-dragons · Were-worms
Evil Races:  Giants · Gongs · Half-trolls · Hobgoblins · Ogres · Snow-trolls · Troll-men · Two-headed Trolls
Fairies:  Dryads · Mermaids · Sprites · Sylphs · White cow
Other:  Badger-folk · Great beasts · Lintips · Mewlips · Nameless Things · Spectres
Individuals:  The Hunter · Lonely Troll · Man in the Moon · The Rider · River-woman · Tarlang · Tim