|Tolkien's legendarium character|
|Book(s)||The Silmarillion (1977)|
Together with Galadriel, Varda is the clearest reflection of Roman Catholic Marian devotion in Tolkien's work. The hymn A Elbereth Gilthoniel, the longest sample of the Sindarin language published by Tolkien, is addressed to her.
Varda is one of the Valar, the pantheon or angelic powers in the legendarium. She is the greatest of the Valar, being associated with light she is central to the dualism of light and darkness in Tolkien's cosmology.
She resided with her husband Manwë, with whom she shared a complementary power. When they were together, Manwë "sees further than all other eyes, through mist, and through darkness, and over the leagues of the sea" and Varda "hears more clearly than all other ears the sound of voices that cry from east to west". When the evil Vala Melkor first began to create his discord, Varda saw his true nature and rejected him. Melkor feared and hated Varda the most out of the Valar because he greatly desired to possess light.
Tolkien's work often repeats characters in "doubles" in different settings or ages. Thus, Varda's Marian characteristics are repeated in Melian (an angelic being of a lower order), Galadriel (a queen of the high elves) and again in "a more homey way" in Goldberry.
Like most of the legendarium's characters, Varda has a different name in each of Tolkien's invented languages. Her Quenya name Varda means "sublime" or "lofty", from Primitive Quenya barádâ (root barád-, whence also Noldorin brennil "lady", brand, brann "lofty, noble fine"). The corresponding Noldorin form is Berethil, Breðil (Primitive Quenya Barathī). Telerin Baradis, from a related stem barathî (while the expected cognate form would have been Barada). The Adûnaic reflex of the name is Avradî.
When invoked by Elves, she is more commonly addressed by epithets reflecting her role in making the stars, as "Star-queen" and "Star-kindler", in Quenya Elentári and Tintallë, and in Sindarin Elbereth and Gilthoniel, respectively. Another Sindarin epithet is Fanuilos "Ever-white". In the English text, she is also addressed by the epithets The Kindler, Lady of the Stars, Queen of the Stars, Snow-white, ostensibly translations of her Elvish names.
- Peter Kreeft, The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind The Lord of the Rings (2005), p. 76, citing Letters (ed. 1981) no. 213, p. 288.
- Joseph Pearce, "Darkness" in Drout (ed.), J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia (2007), p. 118.
- Tolkien, J.R.R. (1977). The Silmarillion. UK: George Allan & Unwin. ISBN 0-04-823139-8.
- Marjorie Burns, "Doubles" in Drout (ed.), J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia (2007), p. 128.
- Bertrand Bellet, "Vowel Affection in Sindarin and Noldorin", Arda Philology 1: Proceedings of the First International Conference on J.R.R. Tolkien's Invented Languages, Omentielva Minya, Stockholm, 4-8 August 2005, 2007, p. 78. On Telerin c.f Helge Fauskanger, Telerin (folk.uib.no). Adûnaic form: see Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, vol. 9: of History of Middle-earth, HarperCollins, 1992, p. 428.
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