Eärendil

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This article is about the Half-elven Eärendil. For the King of Gondor, see Eärendil of Gondor. For the Anglo-Saxon name, see Earendel.
Eärendil
Tolkien's legendarium character
Aliases the Mariner
Race Half-elven
Book(s) The Silmarillion (1977)
Unfinished Tales (1980)

Eärendil the Mariner (pronounced [ɛaˈrɛndil]) is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is depicted in The Silmarillion, as a child of Men and Elves and a great seafarer who, on his brow, carried the morning star across the sky.

Etymology[edit]

Eärendil means 'Lover of the Sea' in Tolkien's invented language of Quenya. However, Tolkien borrowed the name from Old English literature. Tolkien states (Letters, 297) that the name comes from Anglo-Saxon éarendel. He was struck by its "great beauty" c. 1913, which he perceived as

entirely coherent with the normal style of A-S, but euphonic to a peculiar degree in that pleasing but not 'delectable' language.

There is a poem by Tolkien dated to 1914 entitled "The Voyage of Eärendel the Evening Star" (published in The Book of Lost Tales 2 267–269). Tolkien was also aware of the name's Germanic cognates (Old Norse Aurvandill, Lombardic Auriwandalo), and the question why the Anglo-Saxon one rather than the Lombardic or Proto-Germanic form should be taken up in the mythology is alluded to in The Notion Club Papers. The Old Norse together with the Anglo-Saxon evidence point to an astronomical myth, the name referring to a star, or a group of stars, and the Anglo-Saxon in particular points to the morning star as the herald of the rising Sun (in Crist Christianized to refer to John the Baptist).

Tolkien was particularly inspired by the lines in the Crist written by Cynewulf:[1]

éala éarendel engla beorhtast / ofer middangeard monnum sended
"Hail Earendel, brightest of angels, over Middle-earth to men sent"

which can be taken as the inspiration not only for the role of Eärendil in Tolkien's work, but also for the term Middle-earth (translating Middangeard) for the inhabitable lands (c.f. Midgard).

The first line is paralleled by Frodo Baggins' exclamation in The Two Towers (the line appears in The Return of the King in the Peter Jackson films), Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima! which is Quenya, and translates to "Hail Eärendil, brightest of stars!" Frodo's exclamation was in reference to the 'Star-glass' he carried, which contained the light of Eärendil's star, the Silmaril.

Internal history[edit]

The son of Tuor and Idril, daughter of Turgon, Eärendil was raised in Gondolin. When Eärendil was seven years old, he escaped the sacking of Gondolin with his parents, living afterwards in Arvernien by the mouth of Sirion. Eärendil later became the leader of the people who lived there, and married Elwing, daughter of Dior the son of Beren and Lúthien. They had two sons, Elrond and Elros.

With the aid of Círdan the Shipwright, Eärendil built a ship, Vingilótë (or Vingilot), which is Quenya for "foam-flower". He sailed this often around the seas west of Middle-earth, leaving his wife behind in Arvernien. At this time Elwing had in her possession the Silmaril that Beren had wrested from Morgoth. News of this came to the sons of Fëanor who were still living, and they attacked the people living in Arvernien, and killed most of them. Elwing, rather than be captured, threw herself with the Silmaril into the sea. The Silmaril was not lost, however. According to The Silmarillion:

For Ulmo bore up Elwing out of the waves, and he gave her the likeness of a great white bird, and upon her breast there shone as a star the Silmaril, as she flew over the water to seek Eärendil her beloved. On a time of night Eärendil at the helm of his ship saw her come towards him, as a white cloud exceeding swift beneath the moon, as a star over the sea moving in strange courses, a pale flame on wings of storm. And it is sung that she fell from the air upon the timbers of Vingilot, in a swoon, nigh unto death for the urgency of her speed, and Eärendil took her to his bosom; but in the morning with marvelling eyes he beheld his wife in her own form beside him with her hair upon his face, and she slept.

Hearing of the tragedy that had befallen in Arvernien, Eärendil then sought after Valinor, aboard the Vingilot with Aerandir, Erellont, and Falathar, and he and Elwing found their way there at last. Eärendil thus became the first of all mortals to set foot in Valinor. Eärendil then went before the Valar, and asked them for aid for Men and Elves in Middle-earth, to fight against Morgoth; the Valar accepted his plea.

Because Eärendil had undertaken this errand on behalf of Men and Elves, and not for his own sake, Manwë forbore to deal out the punishment of death that was due. Also, because both Eärendil and Elwing were descended from a union of Elves and Men, Manwë granted to them and their sons the gift to choose to which race they would be joined (a gift that was further passed to the children of Elrond, who became known as the Half-elven). Elwing chose to be one of the Elves. Eärendil would have rather been one of the Men; however, for the sake of his wife, he chose to be one of the Elves. The Silmarillion says this:

Now when first Vingilot was set to sail in the seas of heaven, it rose unlooked for, glittering and bright; and the people of Middle-earth beheld it from afar and wondered, and they took it for a sign, and called it Gil-Estel, the Star of High Hope.

The Valar, having listened to Eärendil's plea, went with a mighty host to Middle-earth, and overthrew Morgoth. Eärendil took part in the battle, riding on Vingilot beside Thorondor and the Eagles. He struck down the great dragon Ancalagon and cast him down onto Thangorodrim, the event which, along with the sheer devastation caused by the War of Wrath, led to the Ruin of Beleriand. However, right before the Dagor Dagorath, the Last Battle, Morgoth will escape out the Door of Night to destroy Arda. It is implied Eärendil shall participate in that, alongside every creature in Middle-earth, good and evil.

Family tree[edit]

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Finwë
of the Noldor
 
Indis
of the Vanyar
 
Olwë
of the Teleri
 
House of Hador
 
House of Haleth
 
House of Bëor
 
Thingol
of the Teleri
 
Melian
the Maia
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fingolfin
 
Finarfin
 
Eärwen
 
Galdor
 
Hareth
 
Barahir
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Turgon
 
Elenwë
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Huor
 
 
 
Beren
 
 
 
Lúthien
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Idril
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tuor
 
 
Nimloth
 
Dior
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Eärendil
 
 
 
 
 
Elwing
 
Eluréd
 
Elurín
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Galadriel
 
Celeborn
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Elros
 
 
 
Elrond
 
Celebrían
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kings of Númenor
Lords of Andúnië
High Kings of Arnor
Kings of Arthedain
Chieftains of the Dúnedain
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Aragorn
 
Arwen
 
Elladan
 
Elrohir
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Eldarion
 
A number of
unnamed daughters

Colour key:
     Elves
     Men
     Maiar
     Half-elven
     Half-elven who chose the fate of elves
     Half-elven who chose the fate of mortal men

Concept and creation[edit]

In 1914, Tolkien wrote a poem The Voyage of Earendel the Evening Star which was inspired by the "Crist" poem of Cynewulf.[1] While studying at Oxford, Tolkien developed a constructed language that later became known as Quenya. Already around 1915 he had the idea that this language needed an internal history and was spoken by Elves whom his invented character Eärendil meets during his journeys.[2] The next step in the creation of the underlying mythology was the Lay of Earendel, a work composed of several poems that describes the mariner Earendel and his voyages and how his ship is turned into a star. The mysterious land of Valinor and its Two Trees of gold and silver were first described in this cycle.[3]

Tolkien's legend of Eärendil has elements resembling the medieval Celtic Immram legends or the Christian legend of St. Brendan the Navigator.

Humphrey Carpenter in his biography of Tolkien remarked that Eärendil "was in fact the beginning of Tolkien's own mythology".[1]

In popular culture[edit]

A species of fossil mammals from the Paleocene was named Earendil undomiel by Leigh Van Valen in 1978.[4] The name translates to 'Earendil Evenstar'.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Carpenter (2000), p. 79.
  2. ^ Solopova, Elizabeth (2009), Languages, Myths and History: An Introduction to the Linguistic and Literary Background of J.R.R. Tolkien's Fiction, New York City: North Landing Books, p.75, ISBN 0-9816607-1-1 
  3. ^ Carpenter (2000), p. 84.
  4. ^ "†Earendil undomiel Van Valen 1978 (condylarth)". Paleobiology Database. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 

External links[edit]