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J.R.R. Tolkien was a devout Roman Catholic.  However, he also created a vast mythology to support his world and make it believable.  This apparent contradiction can be partially explained by this: "We have come from God...and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God.  Indeed, only by myth-making, only by becoming a 'sub-creator' and inventing stories can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall.  Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic 'progress' leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil."  (Carpenter 150)
 
This page aims to examine some of this mythology.
 
Iluvatar
 
He was 'the One,' the creator of all.  He was before anything else existed.  The Ainur were the "offspring of his thought."  He is sometimes called Eru. (Silmarillion 16-17)
 
The Ainur
 
They were 'the Holy Ones that were the off-spring of [Iluvatar's] thought, and they were with him before aught else was made.' (15) 
 
They sang the Great Music by which Ilúvatar created Eä, the earth.  Each of the Ainur created their own variations as they willed.  And so Melkor (Morgoth), who had much power but was desirous of more, began to weave in dissonance.  And for a time it seemed that he had the mastery, but in the end even his own music was woven together and became part of Ilúvatar's. 
Certain of them became the Valar and Maiar.  (15-17)
 
 

 

Eä, the Universe, was created by the Great Music which was conceived by Ilúvatar.  It was made as a habitation for the Children of Ilúvatar.  It was affected but not destroyed by Melkor's dissonance. (15-18)

 

The Children of Ilúvatar

 

There were two Children of Ilúvatar, the Elves, or Firstborn, and the Men, or Followers.  The Elves were given near immortality, while Men were mortal.  The Elves called Men’s mortality a gift of Ilúvatar, but the Men sometimes believed it to be a curse. (18)

 

Besides the Children there were the Dwarves.  These were made by Aulë and Ilúvatar allowed them to live. (43-4)

 

The Valar

 

After Eä was created some of the Ainur left Ilúvatar and went to it to tend to it and prepare it for the Children of Ilúvatar.  These were then called the Valar, or 'The Powers.'  Sometimes they would clothe themselves in the shape of the Children of Ilúvatar, but they could walk among them unseen or clothed in the form of their thought.(20-1)

 

The List of the Valar

 

Manwë--He was the King of Arda, the Earth.  He controlled the winds and the air.  (26)

Varda--She was Manwë's spouse.  She was the Lady of the Stars.  She was also called Elbereth. (26)

 

Ulmo--He was the Lord of Waters.  He never abandoned the Children of Ilúvatar, even when the Valar were angry with them. (26-7)

 

Aulë--He was the Lord of the ground, the substances which made up Arda.  He was also a smith and made the first gems. (27)

Yavanna--His spouse, she was the Giver of Fruits and 'the lover of all things that grow in the earth.' (27-8)

 

Mandos--His true name was Námo.  He was the Keeper of the Houses of the Dead and passed judgement as Manwë willed. (28)

Vairë--The Weaver.  She wove all the things that have ever been into her tapestries.  (28)

 

 

Lórien--His true name was Irmo.  He was the master of dreams and visions and lived in the realm of Lórien.  (This is not the same place as Lothlórien, which is sometimes referred to as Lórien.) (28)

Estë--She was Irmo's spouse.  She was the healer of hurts and weariness. (28)

 

Nienna--The Weeper, she mourned for every wound caused by Melkor.  But she also gave strength, pity, and endurance to those who needed it. (28)

 

Tulkas--He was a warrior, strong and fearsome.  He came to the aid of the Valar in the battles with Morgoth.

(28-9)

Nessa--His spouse, she was a dancer and was light of foot and fleet.

(29)

 

Oromë--He was a hunter.   He loved trees and was known as the Lord of Forests.

(29)

Vána--She was the younger sister of Yavanna.  She was called the Ever-young.  All flowers bloomed and birds sang as she passed.

(29)

 

Maiar

 

These are Ainur as well, but they are of less greatness than the Valar though still mighty beyond any Child of Ilúvatar.  Of these were the Istari, who were also called wizards. (Simarillion 339) 

Melian:  She was a Maia who wedded Thingol Greycloak, King of Doriath.  She was Lúthien's mother. (30-1)

 

Olórin:  He was the wisest of the Maiar.  He often walked among the Children of Ilúvatar. (30-1)  He had also many names:

Tharkűn

Incanus

Stormcrow

Greyhame

Lathspell

Mithrandir

Gandalf

The White Rider

The Grey Wanderer

The Grey Pilgrim

Sauron:  He was once a Maia of Aulë but he turned to Morgoth and was only less evil than him "in that he served another and not himself."  (Silmarillion 31-2)

 

Curunír:  He was a Maia, though we are not told which Vala he served.  He was of the Istari.  His Elvish name was Curunír, but the name that Men gave him was Saruman.  He dwelt in the tower of Orthanc, but he was cast out and his staff was broken by Mithrandir after he turned to treachery and aided Sauron. (303-4)  He died in the Shire in 3021 Third Age. (RotK 335)

The Rings of Power

 

There were twenty rings made in the beginning of the Second Age.

The One Ring: This was forged in the fires of Orodruin (Mount Doom) by Sauron.  '...secretly Sauron made One Ring to rule all the others, and their power was bound up with it, to be subject wholly to it and to last only so long as it too should last.'  (Silmarillion 287) The One Ring alone of the Rings of Power had no gem which adorned it.  (FotR 303) It was borne by Sauron, Isildur, Gollum, Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam. 

 

The Three Rings: 'these were the Three that had last been made, and they possessed the greatest powers.  Narya, Nenya, and Vilya...the Rings of Fire, and of Water, and of Air...the Three remained unsullied, for they were forged by Celebrimbor alone and the hand of Sauron had never touched them; yet they also were subject to the One.' (Silmarillion 288)

The Bearers:  The Bearer of Vilya was Galadriel.  She alone ever wore it.  The Bearers of Nenya were Gil-galad and then Elrond.  The Bearers of Narya were Círdan and then Mithrandir. (RoK 417)

The Seven:  Sauron gave these to the Dwarves.  They inspired greed and miserliness.  He later recovered some and others were consumed by dragons.  The only bearer mentioned is Thor, Thorin's father and his Ring was taken from him by Sauron. (Silmarillion 288-9)

 

The Nine:  These Sauron gave to nine Kings of Men, 'for Men proved in this matter as in others the readiest to his will.'  (Silmarillion 288)  These then became the Ring-wraiths, or Nazgűl, neither living nor dead.

Carpenter, Humphrey.  J.R.R. Tolkien: A biography.  Boston, New York:  Houghton Mifflin, 1977.

 

Tolkien, J.R.R.  The Silmarillion.  Boston, New York:  Houghton Mifflin, 1977.

Etceteras