Tolkien Gateway

Of Beren and Lúthien

(Difference between revisions)
(Have begun to rewrite this chapter summary.)
(A major, detailed re-write of this article.)
Line 2: Line 2:
 
{{claimed|[[User:GondolinFan|GondolinFan]]}}
 
{{claimed|[[User:GondolinFan|GondolinFan]]}}
 
{{silmarillion-chapters}}
 
{{silmarillion-chapters}}
'''Of Beren and Lúthien''' is the nineteenth chapter of the ''[[Quenta Silmarillion]]'' section within ''[[The Silmarillion]]''.
+
'''Of Beren and Lúthien''' is the nineteenth chapter of the ''[[Quenta Silmarillion]]'' section within ''[[The Silmarillion]]''. It tells of the love between the Elf-maiden [[Lúthien]] and the mortal [[Beren]], and their [[Quest for the Silmaril]]. [[J.R.R. Tolkien]] considered the tale to be the kernel of his [[legendarium]] <ref>Carpenter & Tolkien 1981, ''Letters #165''</ref>.  
  
 
==Synopsis==
 
==Synopsis==
[[File:Ted Nasmith - At Tarn Aeluin.jpg|thumb|left|''At Tarn Aeluin'' by [[Ted Nasmith]]]]
+
[[File:Ted Nasmith - At Tarn Aeluin.jpg|thumb|left|upright=1.5|''At Tarn Aeluin'' by [[Ted Nasmith]]]]
[[Barahir]] and his band of [[Barahir's Outlaw Band|outlaws]] were defending [[Dorthonion]] where [[Melkor|Morgoth]] had pursued them during the [[Dagor Bragollach]]. The outlaws withdrew to [[Tarn Aeluin]], where they were hidden from Morgoth. However, among them was [[Gorlim]] the Unhappy, who [[Sauron]] tricked into betraying the location of Barahir's hideout.
+
  
Also among the outlaws was [[Beren]], son of Barahir, who was far away on an errand when Sauron sent out an Orc-pack to kill his companions. In a dream, the wraith of Gorlim told Beren of his treachery, and of Barahir's danger. Beren woke, and returned swiftly to the hideout, to find Barahir and his companions slain. Beren raised a mound above his father and swore upon it an oath of vengeance. He then set off in pursuit of the Orc-pack. When he came upon it, he found the captain of the Orcs boasting, and holding aloft the hand of Barahir, which he had cut off. Beren slew the captain and took Barahir's hand, which was still wearing the [[Ring of Barahir]].
+
Of all the tales of sadness from the [[First Age]], there are yet some of joy, and of these, the tale of [[Beren]] and [[Lúthien]] is the most delightful to the [[Eldar]].  
  
For four years, Beren journeyed in and near Dorthonion and earned renown with his desperate deeds. After a while he journeyed to [[Doriath]] seeking refuge. He came to the [[Forest of Neldoreth]] and there he met [[Lúthien]], whom he named [[Tinúviel]], "''nightingale''". They fell in love, and often they met in secret in the woods. But [[Daeron]], who also loved Lúthien, spied on them and reported their doings to [[Thingol]]. Thingol became angry, and ordered Beren to be brought to him in [[Menegroth]]. Thingol eventually agreed to allow Beren to wed Lúthien if Beren would bring him a [[Silmarils|Silmaril]], a task he deemed impossible. Beren agreed and set out on the [[Quest for the Silmaril|quest for a Silmaril]].
+
Following the [[Dagor Bragollach]], [[Barahir]] and his companions continued to defend their land, [[Dorthonion]], even following its ruin. It was to [[Tarn Aeluin]], a wide lake in the east of that country, that they made their abode, and Morgoth could not discover it.  
  
Beren went first to [[Nargothrond]], whose King, [[Finrod|Finrod Felagund]] had sworn an oath of friendship to the house of Barahir. Beren told the King of his plight and of his quest, and Felagund agreed to go forth to aid him. Felagund spoke before his people, seeking their help, but [[Celegorm]] and [[Curufin]] spoke out harshly against Beren. Ten elves only came to Felagund, and stood by him. They convinced him to give the Crown of Nargothrond to [[Orodreth]], his nephew, while they were gone.
+
Now rumour of the deeds of Barahir’s outlaws reached Morgoth, and he ordered [[Sauron]] to eliminate them. One of their company was [[Gorlim]], whose wife was named Eilinel, and their love was great before she went missing during the Dagor Bracholach. Sauron used this to deceive Gorlim into treachery, and so it was that the retreat of Barahir was revealed, and the company was slain by Sauron’s [[Orcs]]. All perished, except [[Beren]], son of Barahir, who was abroad on a perilous errand at the time. Coming to Beren in a dream, a wraith of Gorlim told him all and urged him to return in haste, but alas he came too late and found his kin slain. He buried his father, and slew the band of orcs responsible. From them, he reclaimed the [[Ring of Barahir|Ring of Felagund]].
  
Felagund changed the companions' appearances into those of Orcs. Thus disguised, the twelve went forth to [[Tol-in-Gaurhoth|Sauron's Isle]]. But Sauron, seeing that they did not stay to report their deeds as was commanded of all passing Orcs, ordered that they be brought to him. There Sauron and Felagund fought a contest of songs of power. Back and forth they struggled, but in the end, Sauron had the victory, and they were stripped of their disguises. He bade them tell him their names and purposes, but they would not. Therefore he caused them to be thrown into his pits to be killed by [[Werewolves|wolves]], one by one, unless one would reveal who they were. Still, none betrayed their secret.
+
Thus Beren roamed Dorthonion, slaughtering many servants of Morgoth and became friend to birds and beasts. And Morgoth set upon his head a bounty, and Sauron’s armies were sent after him. He was hounded to such an extent that he was forced to flee Dorthonion, and it was put into his heart that he would go to Doriath, where no mortal had yet been before. Journeying through the horrors and terrors of Ered Gorgoroth and Nan Dungortheb he came at length, by paths that no [[Men|Man]] or [[Elves|Elf]] else ever dared to tread, to Doriath.  
[[File:Ted Nasmith - Lúthien Escapes upon Huan (1998).jpg|thumb|left|''Lúthien escapes upon Huan'' by [[Ted Nasmith]]]]
+
At that time, Lúthien went to Melian for counsel and learned that Beren was imprisoned. She decided that, as no other would now aid Beren, she herself would go to his aid. She went to Daeron for help, but once again he betrayed her purposes to Thingol, and she was imprisoned in a house built high in [[Hírilorn]]'s three trunks in the Forest of Neldoreth. There she used her enchantments to escape Doriath, and she fled towards the Isle in search of Beren. As she left the forest, she was discovered by [[Huan]] the Hound, who was hunting with Curufin, and Celegorm his master. They convinced her to return to Nargothrond with them. However, when they reached Nargothrond, Celegorm imprisoned her. But Huan, who had grown to love Lúthien, came to her and aided in her escape. He permitted her to ride him, and they traveled towards Sauron's Isle to save Beren.
+
  
Even as Lúthien rode there, Beren and Finrod were attacked by Sauron's wolves. The wolves had slain all of their companions, and one was coming at last for Beren. But Finrod, with the last of his power, burst his bonds and fought the werewolf, defending Beren. He killed the wolf, but was himself slain, and Beren mourned by his side as Lúthien and Huan arrived at the bridge to Sauron's isle. Sauron sent wolves one by one after them, with the intention of capturing Lúthien, but Huan killed each one swiftly. At last Sauron, taking the form of the great wolf himself, came to fight Huan. There was a terrible fight between the two, but even Sauron could not defeat Huan, and he was forced to surrender his tower to Lúthien. He fled to [[Taur-nu-Fuin]] in the form of a vampire. Lúthien freed the captives and sought out Beren, who mourned still by Finrod. They buried Finrod and went free together.
+
[[File:Ted Nasmith - Lúthien.jpg|thumb|right|upright=1.4|''Lúthien'' by [[Ted Nasmith]]]]
  
As they reached the borders of Doriath, Celegorm and Curufin rode upon them. Curufin picked up Lúthien as Celegorm made to trample Beren. But Beren leaped at Curufin, catching him by the throat and knocking him off his horse. As Beren throttled Curufin, Celegorm turned his horse and tried again to kill Beren, but Huan betrayed his master and stood between them, and Celegorm's horse would not go near. Lúthien would not allow Beren to kill Curufin, so he released him, taking his [[Angrist|knife]], horse, and other accessories. Curufin mounted Celegorm's horse, but as they rode away, Curufin took Celegorm's bow and shot twice at Lúthien. Huan caught one arrow in his teeth, and Beren jumped before the second, and it struck him in the chest. Huan pursued the brothers, but later returned with an herb of the forest, which Lúthien used to staunch Beren's wound. When Beren was healed, they returned to Doriath.  
+
Staggering into the woods of [[Neldoreth]], he chanced upon [[Lúthien]], the daughter of [[Thingol]] and [[Melian]], dancing in a clearing beside [[Esgalduin]]. He became utterly enchanted by her, and his agony departed him, for Lúthien was the most beautiful of all of the [[Children of Ilúvatar]]. He called out to her, naming her [[Luthien|Tinúviel]] and as she looked on him, doom fell upon her, and she loved him. There, long ago in the woods of Doriath, she laid her hands in his, and their brief joy thereafter was the greatest that has ever been, amongst any of the Children of Ilúvatar.  
  
Beren knew Lúthien would be safe there, and one night he departed in secret to continue his quest. As he came to the edge of Taur-nu-Fuin, he sang a song of farewell to Lúthien and to the lights of heaven. But Huan, carrying Lúthien, had followed his trail, and hearing his song Lúthien sang in reply. She had taken the guise of [[Thuringwethil]], a messenger of Morgoth, and Huan had taken the guise of [[Draugluin]], a wolf he had slain in the Pits of Sauron. When they approached Beren they cast off their disguises, and Huan gave them counsel. Then Lúthien put on her disguise again, and Beren was granted the guise of Draugluin.  
+
However, [[Daeron]] the minstrel loved Lúthien also, and betrayed their meetings to Thingol, who was wrathful. For Lúthien he set above all things, while of mortal Men he took little heed. And so Beren was brought before the throne of Thingol, who looked on him with contempt, and demanded to know his business in Doriath. Melian was silent. Finding resolve, Beren answered that his fate led him to what he sought not — Lúthien. Silence fell upon the halls of [[Menegroth]], and many thought Beren would be slain. Indeed desiring his death, Thingol set upon him the nigh hopeless task of bringing to him a [[Silmaril]] from the crown of Morgoth. Only then would he allow Beren to receive Lúthien as his bride. Thus began in earnest, the [[Quest of the Silmaril]].
  
When they reached the [[Gates of Angband]], the guard-wolf [[Carcharoth]] became suspicious, for he had heard that Draugluin was dead. But Lúthien used her power to make him fall into a deep sleep, and they passed him by.
+
Turning towards [[Nargothrond]], Beren sought out the counsel of [[Finrod Felagund]]. Recalling his vow to the kin of Barahir, Finrod declared to his people that it was his duty to aid the son of Barahir in need. But so potent were the words of [[Celegorm]] and [[Curufin]], who were residing in Nargothrond for a time, that many of the King’s people turned away from him. Only ten joined their quest.  
  
Then Beren and Lúthien came before Morgoth in his nethermost hall. By Morgoth's will Lúthien was stripped of her disguise, but Beren still in wolf-form crept beneath his throne. Lúthien offered to sing for Morgoth, and being entranced by her he allowed this. Suddenly, as she was singing, she vanished from his sight and sang a lovely song that cast a sleeping charm on him and all those near. Morgoth fell from his throne and lay upon the ground. Lúthien woke Beren, and he left behind his disguise and cut a Silmaril from Morgoth's [[Iron Crown|crown]]. Purposing to take a second, he reached with his knife to take it, but the knife broke and he was unable.
+
The company set out for Angband on an evening of Autumn. Felagund used his craft to disguise the group as a pack of [[orcs]], and so they hoped to pass by [[Tol-in-Gaurhoth]] unnoticed. But Sauron was suspicious of them, and had them brought to him. And so commenced the renowned contest of song between Sauron and Felagund, but alas the victory belonged to Sauron, and he stripped their disguises from them, and they were made to languish in a deep pit. One-by-one, Sauron sent werewolves to devour the companions in the hope of obtaining their purpose, but all were faithful to their lord. At last, only Beren and Felagund remained. When the wolf came for Beren, Felagund put forth his power and slew it with his bare hands. In doing so though, he was mortally wounded. Bidding Beren a final farewell, he died in the darkness of Tol-in-Gaurhoth, the tower he himself had built long ago. Thus ended the fairest and most beloved of the [[Noldor]], Finrod Felagund.
  
Then the hosts of Morgoth stirred. Beren and Lúthien fled, but they were stopped by Carcharoth at the Gate. Beren thrust the Silmaril in Carcharoth's eyes and cursed him. Carcharoth, undaunted by the holy light, bit off Beren's hand and swallowed it whole, along with the Silmaril. As Beren fainted in front of him, Carcharoth was scorched by the Silmaril inside of him, and he ran away howling.
+
In the hour of Beren’s capture, a heaviness fell upon the heart of Lúthien and she left Doriath in pursuit of Beren. On the journey, she encountered Celegorm and Curufin, and [[Huan]], the Hound of the [[Valar]], and she was glad. But through treachery, the two brothers took her as prisoner in Nargothrond. There she remained only briefly, for Huan had grown to love her and for the first time, he spoke, giving her counsel, and helped her to escape. With speed, the two came to Tol-in-Gaurhoth at the very hour of the death of Felagund, and Sauron smiled. For he knew a great reward would await him for the capture of Lúthien, daughter of the [[Maia]] Melian. So he sent wolves, and amongst them [[Draugluin]], father of [[werewolves]], to capture her, but Huan slew them all. Then Sauron came himself—taking the form of a mighty wolf—and fought with Huan, but not even he could defeat the Hound of the Valar. Thus he was forced to yield Tol-in-Gaurhoth to Lúthien, and he fled. Then Lúthien removed the ill shadow from that Isle, and freed thralls. Then she came to Beren. Together, they buried the body of Felagund and left that place, renewing their joy. And Huan returned to his master, Celegorm.
  
[[Thorondor]] King of the Eagles swooped down and lifted the two high in the air, bringing them to the borders of Doriath, where Huan met them and aided Lúthien in the healing of Beren. When Beren was recovered he and Lúthien returned to Thingol. Thingol asked for the Silmaril, but Beren told him his story, and Thingol relented. They then began the hunting of Carcharoth, who was attacking Doriath in his agony.
+
Now many Elves returned to Nargothrond from their bondage, and told of the demise of Felagund. Then the hearts of the people were turned against Celegorm and Curufin, who were banished from that land. And perchance, the two came upon Beren and Lúthien near to the [[Forest of Brethil]], and sought to take Lúthien by force and kill Beren, but in that hour, Huan forsook the service of Celegorm and came to Beren’s aid, and Beren throttled Curufin. But Lúthien forbade the slaying of Curufin, so Beren, after taking his horse and knife [[Angrist]] from him, bade him return, impoverished, to his kin. Curufin, being humiliated, took the bow of Celegorm and fired two arrows at Lúthien. One Huan caught, but the other hit Beren, who had sprung to protect Lúthien. Huan pursued the brothers who fled, and upon returning, he brought a herb to Lúthien who, by her craft, healed Beren. Then eventually, they returned to Doriath.
 +
 
 +
[[File:Ted Nasmith - Transformed.jpg|thumb|left|upright=1.5|''Transformed by Ted Nasmith'']]
 +
 
 +
There, Beren, split between his love and his oath, left Lúthien in the care of Huan and departed for Angband while she slept on the grass. Arriving at the borders of Anfauglith, Beren lamented in the belief that this would be his final peril and sung the farewell Song Of Parting. But unsought for, Lúthien appeared upon Huan, and came to him once more. Beren tried to dissuade her from the Quest, but Huan spoke for the second time, counselling Beren that he could no longer save Lúthien from her fate. Then, taking the guise of Draugluin and the bat-like messenger-of-Sauron [[Thuringwethil]], Beren and Lúthien passed through perils untold until they arrived, weary and weather-worn, at the Gates of [[Angband]].
 +
 
 +
To their dismay, guarding the entrance to Angband was a creature of dread, of whom no news had previously reached the Noldor: the great wolf [[Carcharoth]]. He espied them from afar, and was suspicious, for news of the demise of Draugluin had reached Angband. Denying them entry, he approached them with menace. Their peril was great, but by some power of Lúthien, she commanded Carcharoth to slumber. And into unconsciousness he fell.
 +
 
 +
Then Beren and Lúthien crossed the threshold of Angband, descended through the subterranean chambers, and together wrought the greatest deed that has ever been dared in the history of Arda, by Elves or by Men. For they arrived in the throne-room of Morgoth — a court filled with horror and fire and torment. [[Balrogs]] patrolled, and there were many weapons. Lúthien’s disguise was robbed of her by the will of Morgoth, and, standing before his gaze, she began to sing for him, and he strayed into vile thought. Suddenly, she slipped from his sight and sung a song of such outstanding power and beauty, that a drowsiness came upon him. Then Lúthien cast her cloak before his eyes, putting him into a dream, and he slammed into the ground. There lay the most powerful of the Valar, slumped unconscious on the floor of his hellish halls.
 +
 
 +
All his court slumbered. Lúthien then went to Beren and roused him. Removing his wolf-hame, with Angrist he cut a Silmaril from the crown of iron confining it, and it suffered his touch. It occurred to him then to bring out of Angband not one, but all three Silmarils. But such was not his fate, for Angrist snapped, and a fragment smote the cheek of Morgoth. He groaned. All the legions of Angband stirred in their sleep.
 +
 
 +
Then fear and terror unknown fell upon Beren and Lúthien, for they realised their imminent peril, and they fled. But alas, at the surface, they found Carcharoth conscious and wrathful, and he charged at them. Beren then held the Silmaril high, and Carcharoth hesitated and was afraid. But his spirit flew into a rage, and he bit off the right hand of Beren, consuming the Silmaril. It seared his innards, and he fled south, howling in a fit of madness.
 +
 
 +
Now the fangs of Carcharoth were laced with venom, and death approached Beren. But Lúthien drew the venom from his wound and tended to him, even while the hosts of Angband were rising in fury behind her. And so the [[Quest of the Silmaril]] would have ended in despair, but unlooked for, [[Thorondor]] came with his [[Eagles]] to the aid of Beren and Lúthien, even while droves issued forth from the Gates of Angband, and bore the two away from the reach of Morgoth.
 +
 
 +
[[File:Ted Nasmith - Beren and Lúthien are Flown to Safety.jpg|thumb|right|upright=1.5|"Beren and Lúthien are Flown to Safety" by [[Ted Nasmith]]]]
 +
 
 +
Over the ruins of Dorthonion they flew, and above the hidden city of [[Gondolin]], shining like a jewel in the sun. Lúthien saw it, and yet she wept, for she feared the death of Beren. The Eagles left them at the borders of Doriath, in the same glade where Beren had left Lúthien and departed on the Quest. Huan came to Lúthien and again, and the two of them tended to him. There he lay, in dreams of anguish, until, as Lúthien’s last hopes were fading, he awoke. And it was spring.
 +
 
 +
Thereafter, he was given the name [[Erchamion]], “the one-handed”. The two then tarried for a time in those woods, for it was pleasant to them, but Beren would not forget his Oath to Thingol. So after a time they returned to Doriath, which had fallen into grief at the loss of Lúthien from the land. News of their coming spread far across the country, and they arrived in Menegroth with a large following. Then Beren led Lúthien before the throne of Thingol, who looked upon Beren in wonder, and yet blamed him for the woes that had befallen Doriath. Asked by the King of his Quest and Oath, Beren stated “It is fulfilled. Even now, a Silmaril is in my hand”, and Beren raised his right arm, and Thingol’s mood was softened.
 +
 
 +
Sitting before the King, Beren and Lúthien told the tale of their Quest, to the astonishment of all. It seemed to Thingol then that the Man before him was among the great in Arda, and Lúthien’s love was a thing strange to him. It came to his mind then that no power of Elves or Men, or Maiar or Valar, or any other power in Arda, might interfere with their fate. Thus at last he relented, and Beren took the hand of Lúthien before the throne of her father.
 +
 
 +
And for a time, there may have been some semblance of peace and joy in Doriath, but out of the north came the beast Carcharoth. So a hunting party was assembled, consisting of Huan, the Hound of the Valar, [[Mablung]] of the Heavy Hand, [[Beleg Strongbow]], Beren Erchamion, and Thingol, the King of Doriath. And as they rode forth, a shadow fell upon Lúthien, and to her it seemed that the world had been drained of all colour, and beauty, and life. The party came upon Carcharoth near the northern waterfalls of Esgalduin. The wolf leapt for the throat of Thingol, but Beren came between them, spear in-hand. Carcharoth brushed it aside and tore the flesh of his chest with a fell bite. Huan leapt upon Carcharoth, and so began one of the great battles between beasts that has ever been. But Thingol paid no heed, for he knelt beside the gravely injured Beren. In that hour, Huan slew Carcharoth, but he himself was mortally wounded, and laying beside Beren, he spoke for the third and final time, bidding Beren farewell. Beren laid his hand on the hound, and so it was that they parted. Mablung ripped open the wolf and, taking the Silmaril, placed it in Beren’s living hand, who asked Thingol to receive it. “Now the Quest is achieved, and my doom full wrought”, he said. And he spoke no more. They bore Beren back to Menegroth, and Lúthien met them. She kissed him and bade him await her beyond the [[Western Sea]]. Opening his eyes, he looked upon her one last time before he died. So ended the Quest of the Silmaril. But the tale of Beren and Lúthien did not end there.
 +
 
 +
For the spirit of Beren lingered in the [[Halls of Mandos]], awaiting Lúthien upon the dim shores of the [[Outer Sea]], where they could say their final farewell. For it is from there that the spirits of Men depart the world, never to return. Such is the [[Gift of Ilúvatar]]. A darkness came upon Lúthien, and her spirit fled her body, and found its way to the Halls of Mandos. And a shadow fell upon Thingol. Knelling before Mandos, she sang to him a song so beautiful and yet full of sorrow. For her sorrows were great. And as her tears fell, and as she sang her song, Mandos was moved to pity. Therefore Beren was summoned, and so it was that the two met again, as Lúthien had spoken, in the [[Undying Lands]]. But it was not within the power of Mandos to alter the fates of the Children of Ilúvatar, and so he called on [[Manwë]], who sought guidance from Ilúvatar.
 +
 
 +
Lúthien was given two choices. On account of her extraordinary labours and grief in life, she was permitted to remain in [[Valinor]], forgetting all pain and torment she had known. But there Beren, being mortal, could not follow. The second choice was that she might return with Beren to dwell in Middle-Earth, as a mortal, with no guarantee of joy in life. There she would be subject to a second death, and of her, in Arda, would remain nothing more than memory and song. This second option she chose, forsaking [[Aman]] for a mortal life with Beren. And so it came to pass that long ago, Lúthien Tinúviel and Beren Erchamion at last left the confines of the world. Together.
  
Thingol, Beren, and Huan went to [[Esgalduin]] on the hunt with [[Beleg]] and [[Mablung]]. Suddenly they were aware that Huan was no longer with them. He had gone ahead to search, but Carcharoth avoided him and leaped at Thingol. Beren stood in front of Thingol, defending him with a spear, but Carcharoth felled him and bit his breast. Huan sprang out and fought with and killed Carcharoth. But he himself was mortally wounded, and speaking for last time, Huan bade Beren farewell. Mablung took the Silmaril from Carcharoth's belly and gave it to the wounded Beren, rousing him. Thus, Beren achieved the quest for the Silmaril, handing it to Thingol and winning Lúthien. They carried Beren towards Menegroth, where Lúthien met them, but as Beren looked upon her his spirit left him. Beren strayed to the [[Halls of Mandos|Halls]] of [[Mandos]] in that time, and Lúthien came there also, stricken with grief. She sang a song of great sorrow before Mandos, and he was moved to pity, such as has never happened since and had never happened before. Beren and Lúthien were allowed to return to [[Middle-earth]] for a time as mortals, and this they chose.
 
  
 
==External links==
 
==External links==
 
* [http://www.entmoot.com/showthread.php?t=10052 Chapter discussion at Entmoot.com]
 
* [http://www.entmoot.com/showthread.php?t=10052 Chapter discussion at Entmoot.com]
 +
 +
{{references}}
  
 
[[fr:tolkien/resumes/silm/qs19]]
 
[[fr:tolkien/resumes/silm/qs19]]
 
[[fi:Beren ja Lúthien (Silmarillion)]]
 
[[fi:Beren ja Lúthien (Silmarillion)]]

Revision as of 23:26, 3 December 2021

"The wise will stay here and hope to rebuild our town..." — Master of Lake-town
This article needs to be rewritten to comply with Tolkien Gateway's higher standards...
"I oughtn't to interrupt you, I know. [...] You are very busy, I'm sure." — Mr. Parish
GondolinFan is currently busy with major revisions to this article. Before editing, discuss your intentions on this article's talk page.
The Silmarillion chapters
  1. Ainulindalë
  2. Valaquenta
  3. Quenta Silmarillion
    1. Of the Beginning of Days
    2. Of Aulë and Yavanna
    3. Of the Coming of the Elves
    4. Of Thingol and Melian
    5. Of Eldamar
    6. Of Fëanor
    7. Of the Silmarils
    8. Of the Darkening of Valinor
    9. Of the Flight of the Noldor
    10. Of the Sindar
    11. Of the Sun and Moon
    12. Of Men
    13. Of the Return of the Noldor
    14. Of Beleriand and its Realms
    15. Of the Noldor in Beleriand
    16. Of Maeglin
    17. Of the Coming of Men
    18. Of the Ruin of Beleriand
    19. Of Beren and Lúthien
    20. Of the Fifth Battle
    21. Of Túrin Turambar
    22. Of the Ruin of Doriath
    23. Of the Fall of Gondolin
    24. Of the Voyage of Eärendil
  4. Akallabêth
  5. Of the Rings of Power

Of Beren and Lúthien is the nineteenth chapter of the Quenta Silmarillion section within The Silmarillion. It tells of the love between the Elf-maiden Lúthien and the mortal Beren, and their Quest for the Silmaril. J.R.R. Tolkien considered the tale to be the kernel of his legendarium [1].

Synopsis

At Tarn Aeluin by Ted Nasmith

Of all the tales of sadness from the First Age, there are yet some of joy, and of these, the tale of Beren and Lúthien is the most delightful to the Eldar.

Following the Dagor Bragollach, Barahir and his companions continued to defend their land, Dorthonion, even following its ruin. It was to Tarn Aeluin, a wide lake in the east of that country, that they made their abode, and Morgoth could not discover it.

Now rumour of the deeds of Barahir’s outlaws reached Morgoth, and he ordered Sauron to eliminate them. One of their company was Gorlim, whose wife was named Eilinel, and their love was great before she went missing during the Dagor Bracholach. Sauron used this to deceive Gorlim into treachery, and so it was that the retreat of Barahir was revealed, and the company was slain by Sauron’s Orcs. All perished, except Beren, son of Barahir, who was abroad on a perilous errand at the time. Coming to Beren in a dream, a wraith of Gorlim told him all and urged him to return in haste, but alas he came too late and found his kin slain. He buried his father, and slew the band of orcs responsible. From them, he reclaimed the Ring of Felagund.

Thus Beren roamed Dorthonion, slaughtering many servants of Morgoth and became friend to birds and beasts. And Morgoth set upon his head a bounty, and Sauron’s armies were sent after him. He was hounded to such an extent that he was forced to flee Dorthonion, and it was put into his heart that he would go to Doriath, where no mortal had yet been before. Journeying through the horrors and terrors of Ered Gorgoroth and Nan Dungortheb he came at length, by paths that no Man or Elf else ever dared to tread, to Doriath.

Lúthien by Ted Nasmith

Staggering into the woods of Neldoreth, he chanced upon Lúthien, the daughter of Thingol and Melian, dancing in a clearing beside Esgalduin. He became utterly enchanted by her, and his agony departed him, for Lúthien was the most beautiful of all of the Children of Ilúvatar. He called out to her, naming her Tinúviel and as she looked on him, doom fell upon her, and she loved him. There, long ago in the woods of Doriath, she laid her hands in his, and their brief joy thereafter was the greatest that has ever been, amongst any of the Children of Ilúvatar.

However, Daeron the minstrel loved Lúthien also, and betrayed their meetings to Thingol, who was wrathful. For Lúthien he set above all things, while of mortal Men he took little heed. And so Beren was brought before the throne of Thingol, who looked on him with contempt, and demanded to know his business in Doriath. Melian was silent. Finding resolve, Beren answered that his fate led him to what he sought not — Lúthien. Silence fell upon the halls of Menegroth, and many thought Beren would be slain. Indeed desiring his death, Thingol set upon him the nigh hopeless task of bringing to him a Silmaril from the crown of Morgoth. Only then would he allow Beren to receive Lúthien as his bride. Thus began in earnest, the Quest of the Silmaril.

Turning towards Nargothrond, Beren sought out the counsel of Finrod Felagund. Recalling his vow to the kin of Barahir, Finrod declared to his people that it was his duty to aid the son of Barahir in need. But so potent were the words of Celegorm and Curufin, who were residing in Nargothrond for a time, that many of the King’s people turned away from him. Only ten joined their quest.

The company set out for Angband on an evening of Autumn. Felagund used his craft to disguise the group as a pack of orcs, and so they hoped to pass by Tol-in-Gaurhoth unnoticed. But Sauron was suspicious of them, and had them brought to him. And so commenced the renowned contest of song between Sauron and Felagund, but alas the victory belonged to Sauron, and he stripped their disguises from them, and they were made to languish in a deep pit. One-by-one, Sauron sent werewolves to devour the companions in the hope of obtaining their purpose, but all were faithful to their lord. At last, only Beren and Felagund remained. When the wolf came for Beren, Felagund put forth his power and slew it with his bare hands. In doing so though, he was mortally wounded. Bidding Beren a final farewell, he died in the darkness of Tol-in-Gaurhoth, the tower he himself had built long ago. Thus ended the fairest and most beloved of the Noldor, Finrod Felagund.

In the hour of Beren’s capture, a heaviness fell upon the heart of Lúthien and she left Doriath in pursuit of Beren. On the journey, she encountered Celegorm and Curufin, and Huan, the Hound of the Valar, and she was glad. But through treachery, the two brothers took her as prisoner in Nargothrond. There she remained only briefly, for Huan had grown to love her and for the first time, he spoke, giving her counsel, and helped her to escape. With speed, the two came to Tol-in-Gaurhoth at the very hour of the death of Felagund, and Sauron smiled. For he knew a great reward would await him for the capture of Lúthien, daughter of the Maia Melian. So he sent wolves, and amongst them Draugluin, father of werewolves, to capture her, but Huan slew them all. Then Sauron came himself—taking the form of a mighty wolf—and fought with Huan, but not even he could defeat the Hound of the Valar. Thus he was forced to yield Tol-in-Gaurhoth to Lúthien, and he fled. Then Lúthien removed the ill shadow from that Isle, and freed thralls. Then she came to Beren. Together, they buried the body of Felagund and left that place, renewing their joy. And Huan returned to his master, Celegorm.

Now many Elves returned to Nargothrond from their bondage, and told of the demise of Felagund. Then the hearts of the people were turned against Celegorm and Curufin, who were banished from that land. And perchance, the two came upon Beren and Lúthien near to the Forest of Brethil, and sought to take Lúthien by force and kill Beren, but in that hour, Huan forsook the service of Celegorm and came to Beren’s aid, and Beren throttled Curufin. But Lúthien forbade the slaying of Curufin, so Beren, after taking his horse and knife Angrist from him, bade him return, impoverished, to his kin. Curufin, being humiliated, took the bow of Celegorm and fired two arrows at Lúthien. One Huan caught, but the other hit Beren, who had sprung to protect Lúthien. Huan pursued the brothers who fled, and upon returning, he brought a herb to Lúthien who, by her craft, healed Beren. Then eventually, they returned to Doriath.

Transformed by Ted Nasmith

There, Beren, split between his love and his oath, left Lúthien in the care of Huan and departed for Angband while she slept on the grass. Arriving at the borders of Anfauglith, Beren lamented in the belief that this would be his final peril and sung the farewell Song Of Parting. But unsought for, Lúthien appeared upon Huan, and came to him once more. Beren tried to dissuade her from the Quest, but Huan spoke for the second time, counselling Beren that he could no longer save Lúthien from her fate. Then, taking the guise of Draugluin and the bat-like messenger-of-Sauron Thuringwethil, Beren and Lúthien passed through perils untold until they arrived, weary and weather-worn, at the Gates of Angband.

To their dismay, guarding the entrance to Angband was a creature of dread, of whom no news had previously reached the Noldor: the great wolf Carcharoth. He espied them from afar, and was suspicious, for news of the demise of Draugluin had reached Angband. Denying them entry, he approached them with menace. Their peril was great, but by some power of Lúthien, she commanded Carcharoth to slumber. And into unconsciousness he fell.

Then Beren and Lúthien crossed the threshold of Angband, descended through the subterranean chambers, and together wrought the greatest deed that has ever been dared in the history of Arda, by Elves or by Men. For they arrived in the throne-room of Morgoth — a court filled with horror and fire and torment. Balrogs patrolled, and there were many weapons. Lúthien’s disguise was robbed of her by the will of Morgoth, and, standing before his gaze, she began to sing for him, and he strayed into vile thought. Suddenly, she slipped from his sight and sung a song of such outstanding power and beauty, that a drowsiness came upon him. Then Lúthien cast her cloak before his eyes, putting him into a dream, and he slammed into the ground. There lay the most powerful of the Valar, slumped unconscious on the floor of his hellish halls.

All his court slumbered. Lúthien then went to Beren and roused him. Removing his wolf-hame, with Angrist he cut a Silmaril from the crown of iron confining it, and it suffered his touch. It occurred to him then to bring out of Angband not one, but all three Silmarils. But such was not his fate, for Angrist snapped, and a fragment smote the cheek of Morgoth. He groaned. All the legions of Angband stirred in their sleep.

Then fear and terror unknown fell upon Beren and Lúthien, for they realised their imminent peril, and they fled. But alas, at the surface, they found Carcharoth conscious and wrathful, and he charged at them. Beren then held the Silmaril high, and Carcharoth hesitated and was afraid. But his spirit flew into a rage, and he bit off the right hand of Beren, consuming the Silmaril. It seared his innards, and he fled south, howling in a fit of madness.

Now the fangs of Carcharoth were laced with venom, and death approached Beren. But Lúthien drew the venom from his wound and tended to him, even while the hosts of Angband were rising in fury behind her. And so the Quest of the Silmaril would have ended in despair, but unlooked for, Thorondor came with his Eagles to the aid of Beren and Lúthien, even while droves issued forth from the Gates of Angband, and bore the two away from the reach of Morgoth.

"Beren and Lúthien are Flown to Safety" by Ted Nasmith

Over the ruins of Dorthonion they flew, and above the hidden city of Gondolin, shining like a jewel in the sun. Lúthien saw it, and yet she wept, for she feared the death of Beren. The Eagles left them at the borders of Doriath, in the same glade where Beren had left Lúthien and departed on the Quest. Huan came to Lúthien and again, and the two of them tended to him. There he lay, in dreams of anguish, until, as Lúthien’s last hopes were fading, he awoke. And it was spring.

Thereafter, he was given the name Erchamion, “the one-handed”. The two then tarried for a time in those woods, for it was pleasant to them, but Beren would not forget his Oath to Thingol. So after a time they returned to Doriath, which had fallen into grief at the loss of Lúthien from the land. News of their coming spread far across the country, and they arrived in Menegroth with a large following. Then Beren led Lúthien before the throne of Thingol, who looked upon Beren in wonder, and yet blamed him for the woes that had befallen Doriath. Asked by the King of his Quest and Oath, Beren stated “It is fulfilled. Even now, a Silmaril is in my hand”, and Beren raised his right arm, and Thingol’s mood was softened.

Sitting before the King, Beren and Lúthien told the tale of their Quest, to the astonishment of all. It seemed to Thingol then that the Man before him was among the great in Arda, and Lúthien’s love was a thing strange to him. It came to his mind then that no power of Elves or Men, or Maiar or Valar, or any other power in Arda, might interfere with their fate. Thus at last he relented, and Beren took the hand of Lúthien before the throne of her father.

And for a time, there may have been some semblance of peace and joy in Doriath, but out of the north came the beast Carcharoth. So a hunting party was assembled, consisting of Huan, the Hound of the Valar, Mablung of the Heavy Hand, Beleg Strongbow, Beren Erchamion, and Thingol, the King of Doriath. And as they rode forth, a shadow fell upon Lúthien, and to her it seemed that the world had been drained of all colour, and beauty, and life. The party came upon Carcharoth near the northern waterfalls of Esgalduin. The wolf leapt for the throat of Thingol, but Beren came between them, spear in-hand. Carcharoth brushed it aside and tore the flesh of his chest with a fell bite. Huan leapt upon Carcharoth, and so began one of the great battles between beasts that has ever been. But Thingol paid no heed, for he knelt beside the gravely injured Beren. In that hour, Huan slew Carcharoth, but he himself was mortally wounded, and laying beside Beren, he spoke for the third and final time, bidding Beren farewell. Beren laid his hand on the hound, and so it was that they parted. Mablung ripped open the wolf and, taking the Silmaril, placed it in Beren’s living hand, who asked Thingol to receive it. “Now the Quest is achieved, and my doom full wrought”, he said. And he spoke no more. They bore Beren back to Menegroth, and Lúthien met them. She kissed him and bade him await her beyond the Western Sea. Opening his eyes, he looked upon her one last time before he died. So ended the Quest of the Silmaril. But the tale of Beren and Lúthien did not end there.

For the spirit of Beren lingered in the Halls of Mandos, awaiting Lúthien upon the dim shores of the Outer Sea, where they could say their final farewell. For it is from there that the spirits of Men depart the world, never to return. Such is the Gift of Ilúvatar. A darkness came upon Lúthien, and her spirit fled her body, and found its way to the Halls of Mandos. And a shadow fell upon Thingol. Knelling before Mandos, she sang to him a song so beautiful and yet full of sorrow. For her sorrows were great. And as her tears fell, and as she sang her song, Mandos was moved to pity. Therefore Beren was summoned, and so it was that the two met again, as Lúthien had spoken, in the Undying Lands. But it was not within the power of Mandos to alter the fates of the Children of Ilúvatar, and so he called on Manwë, who sought guidance from Ilúvatar.

Lúthien was given two choices. On account of her extraordinary labours and grief in life, she was permitted to remain in Valinor, forgetting all pain and torment she had known. But there Beren, being mortal, could not follow. The second choice was that she might return with Beren to dwell in Middle-Earth, as a mortal, with no guarantee of joy in life. There she would be subject to a second death, and of her, in Arda, would remain nothing more than memory and song. This second option she chose, forsaking Aman for a mortal life with Beren. And so it came to pass that long ago, Lúthien Tinúviel and Beren Erchamion at last left the confines of the world. Together.


External links

References

  1. Carpenter & Tolkien 1981, Letters #165