Númenor

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Númenor
Place from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium
Other names See below
Description Island (or continent)[1]
Location The Great Sea, west of Middle-earth
Lifespan Land raised early in the Second Age;
realm established S.A. 32;
downfall S.A. 3319
Founder Elros
Lord Kings and Queens of Númenor
Books The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales

Númenor /ˈnmɛnɔr/, also called Elenna-nórë or Westernesse, is a fictional place in J. R. R. Tolkien's writings. It was a huge island located in the Sundering Seas to the west of Middle-earth, the main setting of Tolkien's writings, and was known to be the greatest realm of Men. However, the inhabitants' cessation of the service to Eru Ilúvatar and rebellion against the Valar led to the downfall of the island and death of the majority of its population.

The author had intended Númenor to be an allusion to the legendary Atlantis.[2] An unfinished story Aldarion and Erendis is set in the realm of Númenor at the time of its zenith, and Akallabêth summarizes its history and downfall. Otherwise only compendious or abandoned writings of Tolkien deal with Númenor, such as the appendices to The Lord of the Rings and several accounts published in Unfinished Tales and The History of Middle-earth series.

Originally intended to be a part of a time-travel story, the tale of the fall of Númenor was for some time viewed by Tolkien as a conclusion to his Silmarillion and the "Last Tale" about the Elder Days.[3] Later, with the emergence of The Lord of the Rings, it became the link between these two works and a major part of his legendarium.

Literature[edit]

History[edit]

The island was brought up from the sea as a gift from the Valar to the Edain, the Fathers of Men who had stood with the Elves of Beleriand against Morgoth in the War of the Jewels. Númenor was meant to be a "rest after the war" for the Edain.[4] Early in the Second Age the greater part of those Edain that survived their defeat from Morgoth journeyed to the isle, sailing in ships provided and steered by the Elves. The migration took fifty years and brought 5,000 to 10,000 men, women and children.[5]

The realm was officially established in S.A. 32,[6][7] and Elros Half-elven, son of Eärendil, and brother of Elrond and descendant of all the royal houses of Elves and Edain, became the first King of Númenor. Under his rule, and those of his descendants, the Númenóreans rose to become a powerful people. The first ships sailed from Númenor to Middle-earth in the year 600 of the Second Age.

The Númenóreans were forbidden by the Valar from sailing so far westward that Númenor was no longer visible, for fear that they would come upon the Undying Lands, to which Men could not come. For a long time, Númenor remained friendly with the Elves, both of Eressëa and of Middle-earth, and between S.A. 1693-1700, they assisted Gil-galad in the War of the Elves and Sauron, which broke out after the forging of the Great Rings, in particular the One Ring. King Tar-Minastir and the forces of Númenor were without peer in war, and together with the Elves, they were able to temporarily defeat Sauron. Over time the Númenóreans became jealous of the Elves for their immortality, and began to resent the Ban of the Valar and to rebel against their authority, seeking the everlasting life that they believed was begrudged them. They tried to compensate for this by going eastward and colonizing large parts of Middle-earth, first in a friendly manner, but later as cruel tyrants. Soon the Númenóreans came to rule a great coastal empire that had no rival. Few (the "Faithful") remained loyal to the Valar and friendly to the Elves.

In the year 3255 of the Second Age, the 25th king, Ar-Pharazôn, sailed to Middle-earth and landed at Umbar. Seeing the might of Númenor, Sauron's armies fled and Sauron surrendered without a fight. He was brought back to Númenor as a prisoner but he soon became an advisor to the king and promised the Númenóreans eternal life if they worshipped Melkor. With Sauron as his advisor, Ar-Pharazôn had a 500-foot (150 m) tall temple to Melkor erected, in which he offered human sacrifices to Melkor (those selected to be sacrificed were Elendili, Númenóreans who were still faithful to the Elves).

During this time, the White Tree Nimloth, which stood before the King's House in Armenelos and whose fate was said to be tied to the line of kings, was chopped down and burned as a sacrifice to Melkor at Sauron's direction. Isildur, heroically and at great personal risk, rescued a fruit of the tree which became an ancestor of the White Tree of Gondor, preserving the ancient line of trees.

Prompted by Sauron and fearing old age and death, Ar-Pharazôn built a great armada and set sail into the West to make war upon the Valar and seize the Undying Lands, and by so doing achieve immortality. Sauron remained behind. This force was quoted by Tolkien as the 'greatest force ever assembled on Arda'. In the year 3319 of the Second Age, Ar-Pharazôn landed on the shores of Aman. As the Valar were forbidden to take direct action against Men, Manwë, chief of the Valar, called upon Eru. The Undying Lands were removed from the world forever, and the formerly flat Earth was made into a globe. Númenor was overwhelmed in the cataclysm and sank beneath the sea, killing its inhabitants, including the body of Sauron who was thereby robbed of his ability to assume fair and charming forms, forever appearing in the form of a Dark Lord thereafter.

Elendil, son of the leader of the Faithful during the reign of Ar-Pharazôn, his sons and his followers had foreseen the disaster that was to befall Númenor, and they had set sail in nine ships before the island fell. They landed in Middle-earth and founded the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor.

The downfall of Númenor was said to be the second fall of Men, the first being when Men first awoke and fell swiftly under the dominion of Morgoth.

Names and etymology[edit]

The name of the island derives from Quenya, a High-elven tongue devised by Tolkien and credited to have been used by the Númenóreans on solemn occasions and for geographical designations. Literally Númenor, or in full form Númenórë, means both 'West-land' and 'West-folk',[8] and was often translated by the author as Westernesse, a name which he remembered to have been used in a Middle English romance King Horn of an unknown western land reached by sea.[9] After its destruction the land is stated to have been usually called Atalantë "the Downfallen";[10] Tolkien described his invention of this additional allusion to Atlantis as a happy accident when he realized that the Quenya root talat- "to fall" could be incorporated into a name referring to Númenor, although some suspect that the name was intended as an elaborate pun the whole time.[11]

Among Quenya kennings are recorded Andor or "the Land of the Gift",[12] which refers to the isle's being a gift of the Valar to Men, Mar-nu-Falmar or "Home under Waves", used after the Downfall,[10][13] and Elenna or "Starwards",[10] which was given because Men first journeyed to it following the Star of Eärendil and because the island was in the shape of a five-pointed star. The last name was also recorded by Tolkien as Elenna-nórë and rendered "the Land of Star" or "the land named Starwards".[14]

Tolkien also provided several names for the island in Adûnaic, the language of the Númenóreans themselves: Anadûnê is a translation of Númenor,[10] Yôzâyan corresponds to Andor,[15] and Akallabêth to Atalantë.[10] In other writings of Tolkien, the Elven-king Gil-galad called Númenor "the Isle of Kings",[15] and the inhabiting Drúedain referred to it as "the Great Isle".[16]

Geography[edit]

The nature of the land itself is most fully related in A Description of the Island of Númenor, a text published in Unfinished Tales and claimed by Tolkien to have been derived from the archives of Gondor.[17]

The island of Númenor was situated in the Great Sea, closer to the Blessed Realm than to Middle-earth.[10] In shape it resembled a five-pointed star, with five large peninsulas extending from the central region. The latter is stated to have been around 250 miles (400 km) across, and promontories were nearly of the same length each. The island itself was "tilted southward and a little eastward".[17]

Regions[edit]

Númenor was divided into six regions, five corresponding to promontories plus the central area.

Forostar or "Northlands"
The northern peninsula of Númenor, described as rocky and the least fertile. Most of the landscape was formed by "high heather-covered moors", which in the north rose to rocky hills. The only trees in the Forostar were firs and larches that grew upon the westward slopes of the moors; the stone quarried in the region was the most esteemed for building.[17] It is also stated that in this land "the airs were clearest", and that for this reason King Tar-Meneldur built in the northern parts of Forostar a tall tower to watch the stars.[15]
Andustar or "Westlands"
A generally fertile and wood-covered region, which became rocky to the north. The western coastline was formed by high cliffs, in which three small bays were cut; several harbours were built in these bays, upon thin shelving land at the feet of steep hills. The northern highlands were covered by fir-woods, while in the south the forests consisted mainly of birches and beeches upon the upper ground and of oaks and elms in vales. The Andustar was separated from the Hyarnustar in the south by the wide Bay of Eldanna, and a small borderland that remained was called the Nísimaldar.[17]
Hyarnustar or "Southwestlands"
This promontory was noted for the great vineyards and fertile farmlands in its eastern half, which in the southwest gave way to highlands with great cliffs along the coast. In the far east were "wide white beaches and grey shingles", with numerous villages such as Nindamos, and the marshes formed by the river Siril.[17]
Hyarrostar or "Southeastlands"
The most low-lying peninsula of Númenor, with long gentle shores, especially in the west. It was noted for the variety of trees that grew there, and in this land were situated the greatest plantations to supply timber for shipbuilding.[17]
Orrostar or "Eastlands"
A cool but fertile region of the island, rising to highlands in the north and flat to the south. In the south-western parts of the Orrostar were vast plantations of grain.[17]
Mittalmar or "Inlands"
The central part of Númenor, land-locked except for a small coast around the haven of Rómenna in the east. The Mittalmar is described as "raised above the promontories", and as a region of grasslands, pastures and low downs with few trees.[17]

Several smaller provinces were loosely defined within the main regions.

Arandor or "Kingsland"
The eastern part of the Mittalmar that was considered separate from the rest and was under direct jurisdiction of the King. It is stated to have been "at all times the most populous region of Númenor", and here the capital Armenelos and the haven Rómenna were situated.[17]
Emerië
The south-western areas of the Mittalmar with "rolling downs of grass", and the chief region of sheep pasturage.[17] A portion of Emerië was granted by Tar-Meneldur to Erendis, the bride of his son Aldarion, and into this land she retired after their breach.[15]
Nísimaldar
A land around the eastern shores of the Bay of Eldanna and the estuary of river Nunduinë. The name is translated as "Fragrant Trees", referring to the evergreen and sweet-smelling plants that grew abundantly in this region.[17]

Natural features[edit]

This is a list of all individual geographical objects of Númenor named in Tolkien's writings. It is stated, in addition, that there were several rivers in the island, but all except Siril and Nunduinë were "short and swift torrents hurrying to the sea".[17]

Bay of Eldanna
The westernmost and greatest bay of Númenor, between the arms of the Andustar and Hyarnustar. The land about its shores, including the Nísimaldar, was the most fertile in the island due to heavy rainfalls. The name Eldanna literally means 'Elf-wards', referring to the bay's facing towards the distant Tol Eressëa.[17]
Bay of Andúnië
The largest and northernmost of the three bays that ran along the western coasts of the Andustar. It was named after the great haven of Andúnië located on its eastern shores along with other smaller dwellings.[17]
Tol Uinen
A little island situated in the long firth between the promontories of the Orrostar and Hyarrostar, believed by the Númenóreans to have been set there by the Maia Uinen. Upon this isle Aldarion built a tall tower, called Calmindon or "Light-tower", that apparently served as a beacon.[15]
Sorontil
A great hill in the north of the Forostar that "rose sheer from the sea in tremendous cliffs". The name, which means 'eagle-horn' in Quenya,[18] derives from the fact that many Eagles lived upon the rocks.[17]
Oromet
A hill in the west of the Andustar, not far away from Andúnië. Upon it a tall tower was built by King Tar-Minastir, to gaze westward as his longing for the Blessed Realm grew stronger.[7]
Meneltarma
The island had a mountain in the centre, known as Meneltarma or "Pillar of the Heavens" in Quenya and as Minûl-Tarîk in Adûnaic.[1] It was the highest location of Númenor, and it was said that the "far-sighted" could see Tol Eressëa from its summit. After the Downfall it was believed by the remnants of the Dúnedain that the top of Meneltarma rose once more above the sea level as the Isle of Meneltarma, "a lonely island lost in the great waters."[10]
The mountain is described as rising gently from the plain at first, with five long low grass-covered ridges, called Tarmasundar or "Roots of the Pillar", extending in the direction of the five peninsulas. Towards the summit the slopes became more vertical and could not have been ascended easily; a spiral road up the mountain was made, beginning at the south-western ridge and reaching the top in the north. The summit of Meneltarma was "flattened and depressed, and could contain a great multitude". It was considered the most sacred place of Númenor as a shrine to Eru Ilúvatar; nothing was built there, and "no tool or weapon had ever been borne". Only the Kings were allowed to speak on the summit, when they said the Three Prayers to Ilúvatar; otherwise people were free to ascend the mountain, but none broke the silence in awe. The only animals to dwell there were the Eagles, believed by the Númenóreans to have been sent by Manwë to watch upon the hallow and the land.[17]
The last Queen Tar-Míriel, foreboding the destruction of the land, attempted to climb to the summit of Meneltarma in hope to escape the disaster; however, the flood overtook her sooner.[19]
Noirinan
A shallow dale, also called "the Valley of Tombs", located between the south-western and south-eastern ridges at the feet of Meneltarma. At its head were situated the tombs of the Kings and Queens, in chambers cut in the rock of the mountain.[17]
Siril
The chief river of Númenor, which began in the Noirinan beneath Meneltarma and flowed south, issuing into the sea near Nindamos. Within the Mittalmar Siril was a swift stream, but in its lower course it widened and slowed down, forming at last a wide marshy delta. The paths of its mouths often wandered, flowing through wide sands and dispersing into numerous meres.[17]
Nunduinë
A river in the west of the island, running for the greater part through the Mittalmar and issuing into the Sea at Eldalondë. At a lower point in its course it formed Nísinen and flowed shortly through the region of Nísimaldar.[17]
Nísinen
A little lake formed by the river Nunduinë shortly before issuing into the sea. The name, apparently meaning 'fragrant water', is said to derive "from the abundance of sweet-smelling shrubs and flowers that grew upon its banks".[17]

Settlements[edit]

Several towns, ports and cities of Númenor are described in Tolkien's writings. He stated that the most populous towns were situated by the shores, and that dirt roads ran between most of them; the only paved track connected Rómenna, Armenelos, the valley of Noirinan, Ondosto and Andúnië.[17]

Armenelos
The capital and (in later years) the largest city of Númenor, called Armenelos the Golden in Quenya and Arminalêth in Adûnaic,[20] and also known as The City of Kings. It was situated nearly at the centre of the Arandor, close to Meneltarma, and its foundation dates as S.A. 32 at the latest.[7]
Armenelos contained the royal palace, the King's House, reportedly built with the help of the Maiar.[citation needed] A tall tower was constructed there by Elros, and the White Tree Nimloth was planted in the days of Tar-Aldarion. During the reign of Ar-Pharazôn a giant temple to Morgoth was built in Armenelos; it circular temple, which dwarfed the ancient tower of Elros, is described in The Silmarillion as being over five hundred feet in diameter and as much in height to its cornice line, above which a silver dome rose. The dome had an oculus, from which the smoke of numerous burned sacrifices rose, tarnishing the silver soon after its completion.[10]
Andúnië
A haven located on the eponymous Bay in the Andustar, and initially the most important city of Númenor, as there the ships of the Eldar of Tol Eressëa would most often land. Its name meant 'sunset' in Quenya. Valandil, descended from Elros by a female line, was first granted the title of the Lord of Andúnië, and though his successors were the leaders of the Faithful, they still played an important role in Númenórean policies.
However, as the Shadow was falling over Númenor, Armenelos became larger and more important than Andúnië. Towards the end of the realm, the remaining Faithful were labelled as dissidents by the King's Men, with many having been deported to Rómenna and other eastern regions, including the heirs of the former Lords.
Rómenna
A great haven situated at the head of the long firth on the eastern shores of Númenor. Being nearer to the centre of the realm that other ports, it gradually increased in size as the importance of shipbuilding and seafaring grew, especially since the reign of Tar-Aldarion. The name means 'eastwards' in Quenya, referring to the fact that most ships heading to Middle-earth sailed from this haven.
Eldalondë
A seaport on the western coast of Númenor, where the river Nunduinë emptied into the Bay of Eldanna. Its name is also recorded as "Eldalondë the Green" and can be translated as 'Elf-haven'.[21] It was the primary haven by which the Elves would arrive from Tol Eressëa, before the relationship with them was cooled. Eldalondë was located in the Nísimaldar, and is described as "the most beautiful of all the havens of Númenor", said to have been compared by the Elves to a town in Eressëa.[17]
Nindamos
The chief of the numerous villages of the fisherfolk around the delta of Siril in the Hyarrostar. Like the rest, it was located "upon the hards among the marshes and meres".[17]
Almaida
A haven stated by Christopher Tolkien to appear on the map of Númenor made by his father. It was located "on the Bay of Andúnië, not far to the westward of Andúnië itself"; Christopher Tolkien has also expressed his uncertainty about the spelling of the name.[22]
Ondosto
A city in the Forostar, associated by Christopher Tolkien with "the stone-quarries of the region".[23] The name apparently means 'stone city' in Quenya.[24]
Hyarastorni
The fiefdom of Hallacar, a descendant of Elros, situated in southern parts of the Mittalmar. In the index to Unfinished Tales, Christopher Tolkien glossed it as "lands";[25] however, the tale of Aldarion and Erendis creates an impression that it was rather a detached settlement in the region of Emerië.

Flora and fauna[edit]

The plant and animal life in Númenor is stated to have been abundant and diverse, with many species being unique to different regions. In addition, the island contained many life forms that could not have been found in Middle-earth, many of them having been brought by the Valar of Elves from Aman. The most famous of these was the White Tree, Nimloth, that grew in the King's Court at Armenelos. Many other unique trees throve in the southern regions, among which Tolkien recorded oiolairë, lairelossë, nessamelda, vardarianna, taniquelassë, yavannamírë, laurinquë, lissuin and the renowned mallorn-trees (see List of Middle-earth plants).[17]

The most numerous kind of animals in Númenor (in comparison to other lands) were the sea-birds, and it is stated that fish was the chief source of food for the inhabitants. Of unique species only the kirinki are recorded, as well as the Great Eagles, present in many parts of Tolkien's legendarium.[17]

Culture[edit]

The inhabitants of Númenor, usually called the Númenóreans or Men of the West, were descended from the Edain, a group of Men that dwelt in the north-west of Middle-earth and became the most advanced mortal culture. After their settlement in the isle, their knowledge and skills were further developed through the teaching of the Valar and of the Elves of Tol Eressëa.

The majority of the Númenóreans, descended from the original Folk of Hador, were fair-haired and blue-eyed. The settlers of the western regions, especially of the Andustar, came mostly from the Folk of Bëor, resulting in their darker hair and grey eyes.[15] It is also recorded that a few remnants of the Folk of Haleth had journeyed to Númenor, and that they were accompanied by several families of the Drúedain. The latter, though at first increased in number, departed back to Middle-earth over time.[16]

As a result, the common language of the Númenóreans — Adûnaic — was mainly derived from the speech of the Hadorians.[26][27] According to some of Tolkien's writings, the descendants of the people of Bëor spoke an accented form of Adûnaic,[27][28] while in others it is stated that they had dropped their own tongue before coming to the island and used the Grey-elven Sindarin as daily speech in Númenor.[29][30] All texts, however, agree that Sindarin was known to the majority of the Númenóreans, and was widely used in noble families; the latter also knew the High-elven Quenya, employing it in "official documents", works of lore and nomenclature.[28][30] The situation changed when the friendship with the Elves was broken. The usage of both Sindarin and Quenya gradually lessened, until at last King Ar-Adûnakhôr forbade to teach them, and the knowledge of the Elven-tongues was only preserved by the Faithful.[7]

The Númenóreans were extremely skilled in many arts, but in later centuries their chief industries were shipbuilding and sea-craft. They became great mariners, exploring the world in all directions save for the west, where the Ban of the Valar was in force. They often travelled to the shores of Middle-earth, teaching the men there the arts and crafts, and they introduced farming to improve their everyday lives.

The Númenóreans, too, became skilled in husbandry, breeding great horses that roamed the open plains of Mittalmar.

Traditions[edit]

Before the coming of the Shadow, the Númenóreans maintained several traditions connected with the worship of Ilúvatar and respect to the Valar. Among them are recorded the setting a bough of oiolairë upon the prow of a departing ship,[15] the ceremonies concerned with the passing of the Sceptre, and laying down one's life.

The most famous traditions were the Three Prayers, during which a great concourse of Men ascended to the summit of Meneltarma and the King praised Eru Ilúvatar. These were:

  • Erukyermë, held at the beginning of spring, the prayer for a good year;
  • Erulaitalë in the middle of summer, the prayer for a good harvest;
  • Eruhantalë in the autumn, the thanksgiving for a good harvest.[17]

Politics[edit]

During the history of Númenor, several political factions arose.

Lords of Andúnië[edit]

The rulers of a noble house of Númenor, the Lords of Andúnië — named for their ancestral home of Andúnië — were descended from Silmariën, daughter and oldest child of Tar-Elendil the fourth King of Númenor. The laws of Númenor at that time would not allow her to rule as queen, so she wedded Elatan of Andúnië and took up residence there. Their son Valandil would be named the first Lord of Andúnië.

Throughout the Second Age, the Lords of Andúnië became leaders of the Elendili, or Elf-friends, who remained faithful to the Valar. Their continued importance is reflected by the Lords' ownership of two of Númenor's most precious heirlooms — Narsil and the Ring of Barahir. This was despite opposition and eventually persecution from the King's Men. The names of most of the Lords of Andúnië are not known, though Eärendur is mentioned at one point.

At the end of the Second Age, Númenor's estrangement from the Elves and the Valar under the evil guidance of Sauron corrupted Númenórean society. Seeking pardon of the Valar for the wickedness of the Númenóreans, Amandil the Faithful (son of Númendil), the last Lord of Andúnië, sailed into the west but was never heard of again. His son Elendil, the heir to the Andúnië Line, did not join Ar-Pharazôn's grand armada to attack Valinor, and instead fled with his sons Isildur and Anárion and many of the Faithful (Elendili) to Middle-earth.

Elendili[edit]

Also called the Elf-friends, the Elendili were a faction of Númenóreans who advocated continued friendship with the Elves. They were also called the Faithful for their continued devotion and obedience to the Valar. This name was given to them in the time of Elendil, Lord of Andúnië, who later founded the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor in Middle-earth.

By the close of the Second Age Númenóreans had become split between the Elendili and the King's Men — a faction centred around the King that strove to assert Númenórean supremacy over other peoples, and to overcome the mortality placed on Men. With Númenor reaching the apex of its might, the King's Men eventually espoused open defiance of the Valar. This split would eventually precipitate the Fall of Númenor. The Elendili, however, not only preserved their ancient friendship with the Elves, they also regarded the burgeoning arrogance of the King's Men as blasphemy. But the King's Men became more powerful and Númenor with them. By the end of the Second Age the King's Men had begun to persecute the Elendili as rebels and 'spies of the Valar.' Fearing their influence early on, the King's Men secured the Faithful's deportation from their strongholds in the western regions, notably around the western port city of Andúnië, and relocated to them to the eastern port city of Rómenna. There many departed to the Hither Lands (Middle-earth) and founded settlements that would later become part of the faithful Kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor. Many others would remain until the downfall of Númenor.

The Elendili enjoyed a brief respite when Elf-friend Tar-Palantir assumed kingship and began to turn Númenor back to the ways of the Faithful. But after Tar-Palantir died, his nephew Ar-Pharazôn usurped the throne and the Elendili were more vigorously oppressed, this time with the help of the Dark Lord Sauron, who had established an evil cult on the island to corrupt and eventually destroy Númenórean society. The Eldar tongue was forbidden. When Sauron corrupted Ar-Pharazôn, the last King of Númenor, some of Elendili were murdered and burned as sacrifices to Melkor. Burned too was Nimloth the Fair, the White Tree of the King that was the ancestor to the White Tree of Gondor, and the tree for which it was foretold to be bound to the fate of the Kings. Isildur, son of Elendil and one of the Elendili obtained perilously a seedling from Nimloth the Fair and thus bound the fate of the Tree to the fate of the Heirs of Elendil.

As Ar-Pharazôn led his grand armada to Aman to challenge the Ban of the Valar, Elendil was warned by his father Amandil, Lord of Andúnië, not to interfere in the upcoming war, but to expect, and prepare for, a forced departure from the island. Amandil then sailed to Aman to beg the Valar for forgiveness, but was never heard from again. Elendil and his sons, Isildur and Anárion, heeded Amandil's advice and prepared nine ships laden with goods and their Elendili followers. They were thus spared the downfall of Númenor when, as punishment for an attempt to defy the Ban of the Valar, Ilúvatar sank the island kingdom into the sea. The Elendili, under the leadership of Elendil and his sons, were carried to Middle-earth by great winds and great waves, sparing them from the cataclysm (their boats were waiting on the shore of the island when it sank). This implied that the Valar sympathized with Amandil's pleas, or that Ilúvatar himself saved them, knowing that the Elendili had always remained faithful. They eventually made their way to refuge in Middle-earth where they were welcomed by the Elves. There they established the Dúnedain kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor, Elendil creating Arnor in the north, and Isildur and Anárion creating (and jointly ruling) Gondor further south (although Elendil was seen as High King of both Arnor and Gondor).

King's Men[edit]

The King's Men were a Númenórean royalist faction. They rebelled against the angelic Valar because of their desire for immortality. As their power and knowledge of the Númenóreans had grown throughout the course of the Second Age, all had become increasingly preoccupied with the limits placed on their contentment—and eventually their power—by mortality, the purpose of which they began to question. This growing wish to escape death, known as 'the doom of Men', also made most of the Númenóreans envious of the immortal elves, or Eldar, who they had come to physically resemble as part of their reward from Ilúvatar for having been their allies. The Eldar sought ever to remind the men of Númenor however, that death was a Gift from Ilúvatar to all men, and to lose faith in Ilúvatar would be heretical. Nevertheless, after S.A. 2221, when Tar-Ancalimon became King of Númenor;

...the people of Númenor became divided. On the one hand was the greater party, and they were called the King's Men, and they grew proud and were estranged from the Valar and the Eldar. ('Akallabêth' ~ The Silmarillion)

The 'King's Men' therefore became increasingly predisposed to the corruption of Sauron, who in Númenor's last years seduced the elderly King Ar-Pharazôn;

...back to the worship of the Dark, and of Melkor the Lord thereof, at first in secret, but ere long openly and in the face of his people. ('Akallabêth' ~ The Silmarillion)

Within Númenor, the majority immediately followed suit, and this worship quickly passed across the ocean to most of Númenor's colonies in Middle-earth;

...for in the days of the sojourn of Sauron in that land the hearts of well nigh all its people had been turned towards darkness. Therefore many of those who sailed east in that time and made fortresses and dwellings upon the coasts were already bent to his will... ('Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age' ~ The Silmarillion)

Their corruption led the King's Men to disaster as they followed Ar-Pharazôn in his suicidal invasion of Aman, in consequence of which Númenor, the mightiest realm of men that had ever been, was destroyed and swallowed up into the sea. Royalist survivors remaining in Middle-earth failed to learn from their example, continuing to serve Sauron as the Black Númenóreans.

Númenórean descendants in The Lord of the Rings[edit]

Descendants of the various Númenórean factions appear in some chapters of The Lord of the Rings. In Chapter 5 of Book Four, Sam says to Faramir soon after their first meeting: "You have an air, sir, that reminds me of, of — well, wizards, of Gandalf". To which Faramir responds: "Maybe you discern from afar the air of Númenor". Throughout this chapter, Faramir tells Frodo and Sam much of the history of Númenor and of its descendants, his ancestors.

Later in the book, in "The Black Gate Opens", there appears a representative of the opposite faction, The Black Númenóreans.

The Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dûr was he; he had entered the service of the Black Tower when it arose again, and because of his cunning he grew ever higher in the Lord's favour; and he learned great sorcery, and knew much of the mind of Sauron; and he was more cruel than any orc. ( ~ The Return of the King)

In Appendix A at the end of The Return of the King, Tolkien recounts the death of Aragorn, when he tells Arwen "I am the last of the Númenóreans, and to me has been given not only a span thrice that of Men of Middle-earth, but also the grace to go at my will and give back the gift". But the grieving Arwen, unreconciled to the impending death of her beloved — however long his life had been by normal human standards — responds: "But I say to you, King of the Númenóreans, not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last".

The many names of Númenor[edit]

At the end of Númenor's tragic story, the painstaking philologist Tolkien provides the list of names by which the lost land was known during its existence and after its loss:

(...) Even the name of that land perished, and Men spoke thereafter not of Elenna, nor of Andor the Gift that was taken away, nor of Númenórë on the confines of the world; but the exiles on the shores of the sea, if they turned towards the West in the desire of their hearts, spoke of Mar-nu-Falmar that was whelmed in the waves, Akallabêth the Downfallen, Atalantë in the Eldarin tongue.

The reference to "Atalantë", saved until the last, provides the direct link between Tolkien's Númenor which sunk under the waves and the Atlantis which had the same fate in a millennia-old myth — which the reader may have suspected already, but could not be sure of until this moment. (Earlier depictions, from Plato onwards, assumed that "Atlantis" was the name used by the people of the lost island already in its time of glory; however, given the long passage of time to be assumed between its sinking and the writing down of the myth by Plato, Tolkien's linguistic interpretation is entirely plausible).

Other literature[edit]

  • C. S. Lewis's novel That Hideous Strength makes reference to "Numinor and the True West", which Lewis credits as a then-unpublished creation of J. R. R. Tolkien. According to the novel, Merlin of the Arthurian Legend was the last in a long line of wizards familiar with the magic of Middle-earth, brought to the shores of prehistoric Britain by refugees from the sunken continent. Merlin's body was preserved for 1,500 years until the N.I.C.E. established an excavation in Bragdon Wood of Edgestow, England searching for the body in the mid-twentieth century. This is one of many examples of cross-overs between the novels of Lewis and Tolkien, both of whom were members of The Inklings, a literary discussion group at Oxford University and often shared with each other their literary work in progress.
  • In the Marvel 1602 limited series comic book 1602: Fantastick Four Númenor is the name of the 1602 world analogue of Namor; Namor the Sub-Mariner is the ruler of Atlantis in the mainstream Marvel Universe.
  • Pauwels and Bergier talk about Numinor and its relevance in both Celtic myths and the history of European and Indo-European culture in their book: De eeuwige mens which is Dutch for The everlasting/eternal human. There is also a reference to the works of both C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien and a mentioning of Atlantis.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Grotta, Daniel; Greg Hildebrandt; Tim Hildebrandt (March 2001). J.R.R. Tolkien: Architect of Middle Earth. Running Press. ISBN 978-0-7624-0956-3. 
  2. ^ Letters, ##154, 156, 227.
  3. ^ Lost Road, "The early history of the legend", pp. 7–10.
  4. ^ Unfinished Tales: Part Two, II Aldarion and Erendis, "The Further Course of the Narrative"
  5. ^ Peoples, p.145.
  6. ^ Day, David. Tolkien The Illustrated Encyclopedia. p. 108. 
  7. ^ a b c d Unfinished Tales: "The Line of Elros".
  8. ^ Lost Road: The Etymologies, stems NDOR-, NDŪ-, NŌ-.
  9. ^ Letters, #276.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h The Silmarillion: "Akallabêth". (For the Isle of Meneltarma, cf. Poseidonis.)
  11. ^ Letters, #257.
  12. ^ Lost Road: The Etymologies, stems ANA1-, NDOR-, NŌ-.
  13. ^ Lost Road: The Etymologies, stems MBAR-, NDŪ-, PHAL-.
  14. ^ Unfinished Tales: "Cirion and Eorl" (iii) and note 43.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Unfinished Tales: "Aldarion and Erendis".
  16. ^ a b Unfinished Tales, "The Drúedain", note 7.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Unfinished Tales: "A Description of Númenor".
  18. ^ Lost Road: The Etymologies, stems THORON-, TIL-.
  19. ^ The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth", p. 279
  20. ^ Peoples, "The History of the Akallabêth", pp. 140–165.
  21. ^ The Silmarillion: Appendix, entries elda and lond.
  22. ^ Unfinished Tales: Introduction (Part Two, I).
  23. ^ Unfinished Tales: Index, entry Ondosto.
  24. ^ The Lost Road: The Etymologies, stems GOND-, OS-.
  25. ^ Unfinished Tales: Index, entry Hyarastorni.
  26. ^ The Silmarillion, Ch. 18 "Of the Coming of Men into the West", p. 148.
  27. ^ a b Peoples, "The Problem of Ros", p. 368 and note 5.
  28. ^ a b Peoples, "Of Dwarves and Men" note 71, pp. 329–30.
  29. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1994), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The War of the Jewels, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "The Later Quenta Silmarillion" Ch. 14, p. 217, ISBN 0-395-71041-3 
  30. ^ a b Unfinished Tales: "Aldarion and Erendis", note 19.
General references

External links[edit]