Voronwë

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Voronwë
Tolkien's legendarium character
Aliases 'The Steadfast'
Race Elf
Book(s) The Silmarillion

In Tolkien's The Silmarillion, Voronwë (pronounced [vɔˈrɔnwɛ]) was a Noldorin Elf from Gondolin. His name is Quenya in origin, meaning 'steadfast one' (the Sindarin form is Bronwë). The name Voronwë also appears as an epessë (honorary title) of various other characters, for example Mardil Voronwë.

Ulmo and Voronwë
illustration by Tom Loback

Voronwë was relatively young according to the measure of the Elves, having been born in Middle-earth (and specifically in Nevrast) instead of Valinor. His father was Aranwë, a Noldo, but his mother was of the Sindarin Elves of the Falas, and kinswoman of Círdan. Voronwë called himself "of the House of Fingolfin", which in this case likely means a follower of that house, rather than a relationship of blood, although some Tolkien fans have proposed his descent from Irimë, sister of Fingolfin.

Voronwë was among those Gondolindrim who were sent by Turgon to the Bay of Balar after the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. Their errand was to seek the help of Círdan in shipbuilding so that they would be able to reach Valinor and deliver the Elves' prayer for aid to the Lords of the West. But he tarried on the way, wandering enchanted in the Willow-meads of Nan-tathren. Thus Voronwë came last of the messengers to Círdan, when six out of seven ships built at Turgon's asking had sailed into the West.

He was the captain of the last, and the greatest, ship that for seven years journeyed across Belegaer, seeking a path into the West through "loathing, and loneliness, and madness; terror of wind and tumult, and silence, and shadows where all hope is lost and all living shapes pass away".[1] Still, the Doom of the Valar worked against them, and the West was still shut. In despair they turned back, but when already within the sight of Mortal Lands, their ship was caught in a great storm and drowned.

However, Voronwë was spared, alone of all sent by Turgon and Círdan. He was saved by Ulmo and cast ashore at Vinyamar, the land of his birth. There he was greeted by Tuor of the Third House of Men, who passed him Ulmo's bidding to guide Tuor to Gondolin. Reluctantly, Voronwë obeyed, remembering the prophecies of old. For more than a month they journeyed eastward along the southern slopes of Ered Wethrin to the entrance into the Hidden City, in spite of the Doom of the Valar and the Malice of the Enemy, protected by Ulmo's power. On the road they met Tuor's first cousin Túrin Turambar by the ruins of Eithel Ivrin without recognizing him. Voronwë was admitted to Gondolin as a former inhabitant; Tuor was at first held captive, but then released and was able to pass to Turgon Ulmo's warnings.

There is no further mention of Voronwë in the canon works, except a statement where it is implied that he survived the Fall of Gondolin.[2] Other accounts suggest that later he sailed into the West with Tuor and Idril.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Christopher Tolkien, ed., Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin, p. 36, ISBN 0-395-29917-9 
  2. ^ Unfinished Tales: Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin, p. 33 and note 12.
  3. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1994), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The War of the Jewels, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, The Tale of Years, p. 352, 354, ISBN 0-395-71041-3 

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