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Silm Re-Read: "Of Aulë and Yavanna" Discussion Post

Of Aulë and Yavanna




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Important: This is not a spoiler-free zone. It is hard to discuss any chapter in depth without referring to things that happen in later chapters. Proceed at your own risk!

Summary

Aulë created the Dwarves in secret in Middle-earth long before the coming of Elves and Men. He did this not with a desire to dominate but so he could have students to learn his craft. Ilúvatar discovered his creation the moment Aulë finished and confronted him. Aulë told Eru that he could do as he pleased with the Dwarves and offered to destroy them. Ilúvatar gave them independent life. He bid Aulë to hide them, sleeping, until after the Elves awoke. After this, Aulë told Yavanna what he had done and she began to worry for the safety of her creations after the Coming of Elves, Men, and Dwarves. She goes to Manwë and they discover/remind themselves of the Ents and the Eagles.

Our Favorite Quotes

“But when the time comes, I will awaken them, and they shall be to thee as children; and often strife shall arise between thine and mine, the children of my adoption and the children of my choice.”

“For while thou wert in the heavens and with Ulmo built the clouds and poured out the rains, I lifted up the branches of great trees to receive them, and some sang to Ilúvatar amid the wind and the rain.”

"Did not thy thought and mine meet also, so that we took wing together like great birds that soar above the clouds?"

"Now let thy children beware! For there shall walk a power in the forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril."

Alternate Versions

~ The Dwarves started out in The Book of Lost Tales as evil people (BoLT 1, Gilfanon’s Tale: The Travail of the Noldoli, “The Awakening of Men According to the Earlier Outlines”).

~ In BoLT 2, the first mention of their origins occurs in “The Nauglafring”: “The Nauglath are a strange race and none know surely whence they be; and they serve not Melko nor Manwë and reck not for Elf or Man, and some say that they have not heard of Ilúvatar, or hearing disbelieve.” It is also the first instance of their physical description.

~ The first appearance of Aulë’s creation of them is in The Lost Road, “The Later Annals of Beleriand”, where it is stated that was not originally known where the Dwarves came from, but that narrator later learned of it. Annal 104 also says, “But the Dwarves have no spirit indwelling, as have the Children of the Creator, and they have skill but not art; and they go back into the stone of the mountains of which they were made.” It is likewise made explicit in “The Lhammas” that Aulë devised the Dwarvish language.

~ It is only in The War of the Jewels (“The Later Quenta Silmarillion,” Concerning the Dwarves) that the hostile view vanished, but at the same time, several new ideas were introduced. Among them are longevity; that Aulë cares for them after death, gathering them in a separate place in Mandos instead of them returning to stone ; that the Fathers of the Dwarves (but only they) can be re-born like the Eldar; the Dwarves will aid Aulë in recreating Arda after the end of the world; Dwarves are bearded from birth (both men and women); Dwarf-women are few; and there is some relation between the tongue of the Dwarves and the Easterling Men.

~ The matter of Dwarf-women seems to have given Tolkien a hard time. He clearly knew that they were necessary if he didn't want his Dwarves to hatch from stone, but wasn't certain how to introduce them into the story. He experimented with different ideas, such as Eru creating them after adopting the Fathers of the Dwarves (because he did not want to mess with Aulë's design, the Dwarf-women look like the men); Aulë creating six female Dwarves after having made the men, grew tired and rested, and afterwards buried six Dwarf pairs and one single Dwarf; or Aulë creating mates for all Fathers of the Dwarves. None of these ideas made it into the final draft, suggesting that Tolkien wasn't satisfied with any of them.

~ As for the Ents: there are two references to "Tree-men" in the "The Tale of Eärendel" (Book of Lost Tales 2), but it's hard to say whether they are a premonition of Ents or just a feature to add an exotic feel to exotic places (they're listed among pygmies, cannibalistic sarqindi, spices and fire-mountains).

~ There is nothing at all on the origin of the idea in the LotR-related History of Middle-earth volume save for an explanation in The Return of the Shadow (The First Phase: XI From Weathertop to the Ford, "Note on the Entish Lands") that "Entish Dales, Entish Lands" in the early map sketches has nothing to do with the later Ents, but is derived from Old English ent 'giant'; in the later maps, when the word "ent" had acquired a different meaning, they have become Ettendales and Ettenmoors, from OE eoten also 'giant'.

~ In a letter to W.H. Auden (Letter 163), Tolkien stated that he did not consciously invent the Ents, but that they stem from his disappointment with Macbeth: He felt let down by the way in which "great Birnam wood" marched against Macbeth "to high Dunsinane hill", and wanted to really let the trees march to war.

~ Apart from some editorial changes (one of which was to remove a mention of the sun existing since the beginning of Arda), the text in the published Silmarillion was lifted entirely from an essay called “Of the Ents and the Eagles” that Tolkien wrote no earlier than 1958-1959.

~ The other mentions of them in a non-LotR HoME volumes are in Morgoth’s Ring including them in a list of reasoning beings and a brief excerpt from Letter 247 in The War of the Jewels, where they help Beren.

Food for Thought

~ Do you think the story of Abraham and Isaac inspired Aulë's "sacrifice"? Could this have been a conscious choice on Tolkien's part due to the other Dwarven parallels to Judaism he pointed out in Letter 176?

~ Tolkien was never able to resolve the issue of where female Dwarves came from. Which version—if any—do you find the most appealing? Do you have your own idea?

~ This chapter integrates two later additions to Tolkien's world – Ents and Dwarves as people on par with Elves and Men rather than fairytale-creatures – into the fabric of the Silmarillion. Tolkien never did the same for Hobbits. Why do you think that is? Where do you think Hobbits come from?

Works Cited

~ The Silmarillon, "Of Aulë and Yavanna"
~ The Book of Lost Tales 1, Gilfanon’s Tale: The Travail of the Noldoli, "The Awakening of Men According to the Earlier Outlines"
~ The Book of Lost Tales 2, “The Nauglafring”
~ The Lost Road, The Later Annals of Beleriand, Annal 104
~ The Lost Road, The Later Annals of Beleriand, "The Lhammas," 9
~ The War of the Jewels, The Later Quenta Silmarillion, "Concerning the Dwarves"
~ The Book of Lost Tales 2, "The Tale of Eärendel"
~ The Return of the Shadow, The First Phase: XI From Weathertop to the Ford, "Note on the Entish Lands"
~ Letters of JRR Tolkien, Letter 163
~ The War of the Jewels, Part Three, "Of the Ents and Eagles"
~ Morgoth's Ring, The Later Quenta Silmarillion, The Second Phase, "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", Laws A, Note (i)
~ The War of the Jewels, The Tale of the Years
~ Letters of JRR Tolkien, Letter 176


Please note: We don't know everything and it's perfectly possible that we missed something. These summaries and questions are by no means supposed to be complete and exhaustive. If you have looked further into this particular topic or would like to discuss something that we've overlooked, please share it! (The questions are starting points, not the only things to discuss.)

Also, please don't be afraid to talk amongst yourselves. We don't want this to be an echo chamber or for us to be lecturing to you. We want this to be a discussion among the community as a whole.

“Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor” and “Of Thingol and Melian” are due on February 9.
Tags: discussion, reading group, silmarillion re-read
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