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)
page aims to examine some of this mythology.
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)
were 'the Holy Ones that were the off-spring of [Iluvatar's] thought, and they were with him before aught else was made.' (15)
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.
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)
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)
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
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)
was Irmo's spouse. She was the healer of hurts and weariness. (28)
Weeper, she mourned for every wound caused by Melkor. But she also gave strength, pity, and endurance to those who needed
was a warrior, strong and fearsome. He came to the aid of the Valar in the battles with Morgoth.
spouse, she was a dancer and was light of foot and fleet.
Oromë--He was a hunter.
He loved trees and was known as the Lord of Forests.
Vána--She was the younger sister of Yavanna. She was called the
Ever-young. All flowers bloomed and birds sang as she passed.
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.
Olórin: He was the wisest of the Maiar. He often walked among the Children of Ilúvatar. (30-1) He had also many names:
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.
The Rings of Power
There were twenty rings made in the beginning of the Second
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.
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
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)
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)
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.
Humphrey. J.R.R. Tolkien: A biography. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1977.
J.R.R. The Silmarillion. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1977.