Eöl, called the Dark Elf, is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is introduced in The Silmarillion as an Elf of Beleriand and is a character existing in some form from the earliest to the latest writings.
Eöl and Aredhel
illustration by Tom Loback
|Aliases||The Dark Elf|
|Book(s)||The Silmarillion, The History of Middle-earth|
I acknowledge not your law... No right have you or any of your kin in this land to seize realms or to set bounds, either here or there. This is the land of the Teleri...— Eöl debates with Turgon about whether Eöl can leave Gondolin.
Eöl, the Dark Elf, was a Sinda and lord of the forest of Nan Elmoth, a fief, north-east of Doriath. Even before he encountered the Dwarves of the Blue Mountains in Eriador, he had close relationships with other Dwarves, whom he met (and learned much forging skills from) along his travel through Middle-earth. When he entered the lands of Beleriand, the Sindar from Doriath recognised Eöl's kinship, and accepted him fairly quickly among the high court of Menegroth, due to his skills.
He was vassal of the High-king of Beleriand, Thingol. Before the wars began he lived in Doriath. When Melian enclosed it with her magic Girdle of Melian to aid its defence he became uneasy and moved to Nan Elmoth outside the Girdle. One of the greatest Elven-smiths of Middle-earth, he forged Anglachel and Anguirel two great, black, magic swords. Made from a meteorite's metal, they can cut all earth-delved iron and have an entrapped sentience. His smithwork rivalled that of the greatest of the Elven-smiths, Fëanor and Celebrimbor, in both fame and fate. One sword, Anglachel, he gave to Thingol as tribute for living in Nan Elmoth and it was eventually used by Túrin to slay Glaurung the dragon. The other sword, Anguirel, he kept for himself. Eöl devised galvorn, a black metal of great strength and malleability, which he fashioned into armour that he wore when he went abroad. He was friend of the Dwarves of Nogrod and Belegost and, until the founding of the realms of the Noldor, all the traffic of goods between the Sindar and Dwarves passed through Nan Elmoth.
He ensnared Aredhel Ar-Feiniel, the wilful sister of Turgon, when, losing her way, she ventured into his forest. He wedded her, not wholly against her will according to The Silmarillion, but by force according to Quendi and Eldar and without informing her family or going through the customs of the Noldor. They had a son Maeglin. Eöl resented the pride and presumptive authority of the Noldor and, given to secrecy much like Turgon, refused permission for Aredhel and Maeglin to leave Nan Elmoth to seek out their Noldorin kin, the sons of Fëanor. Aredhel and Maeglin later left secretly for Gondolin, stealing Eöl's sword, Anguirel. Eöl pursued them and entered the Hidden Way of Gondolin, and was captured by the guards and brought before Turgon, the king. He wished to go away with his son back to Nan Elmoth leaving Aredhel behind. He claimed Maeglin saying that as Turgon was Aredhel's brother, she could stay behind. Turgon would not allow Eöl to leave Gondolin, offering only the choice of staying or dying. Eöl would not acknowledge any authority of Turgon over him and refused to remain, choosing instead death for himself and his son, Maeglin. He tried to kill his son, but his javelin hit Aredhel who stepped in front of Maeglin. She called for her brother to spare Eöl, but the javelin was poisonous and she died before she could speak her last words. Turgon decreed Eöl was to be put to death by being thrown from a cliff. Before he died, Eöl called out a curse on his son for betraying him, that Maeglin should suffer the same fate of his father. The fulfilment of the curse is told in the Fall of Gondolin.
Among Tolkien's earliest writings from around 1916, Eöl is of the Mole-kin of the Gnomes, later to become the Noldor, and his son Meglin is also a Gnome and "of an ancient house". In some much later writings by Tolkien from 1959–60 Eöl was a Mornedhel, an Avar, who descended from the same Second Clan of the Elves as the Noldor, the Tatyar. It is said here that his sword-craft surpasses the Noldor of Aman. Eöl hates and envies his Valinorean cousins, for their arrogance and condescension, as well as their knowledge and accomplishment. Eöl's love for smithying and friendship towards the Dwarves is consistent with Tolkien's view of the Noldor, which are described as Dwarf-friends in the First and Second Ages.
YT 1190 - FA 456
d. First Age 502
d. First Age 400
YT 1362 - FA 400
YT 1300 - FA 510
d. YT 1500
FA 320 - FA 510
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, editor,The Silmarillion, (1977), p.137.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol. XI, (1994) p. 409
- However, see J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth Vol.X, (1993), pp.207-214; pp.225-227; p.212: "but it was at all times lawful...to marry...without ceremony or witness". In his "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", Tolkien describes most Elven marriages as being harmonious and things like a marriage being broken, at most times, nonexistent. On the other hand, Fëanor and Nerdanel, as well as many other spouses of the Exiled Noldor, such as Fingolfin's wife, do not follow the husbands into exile, Eöl and Aredhel are the only known case of an Elven couple separating or indeed, having any real marital strife outside of the Exile.
- Both Eöl and Turgon attempted to restrict the movement of Aredhel and others in and out of their hidden realms. This was a common practice during the Wars of Beleriand as Thingol and Finrod also had hidden realms and restricted movement through them. In the cases of Eöl and Turgon, Eöl had the better authority as he was a legitimate vassal of Thingol the High-king and Lord of Beleriand. Additionally, upon the arrival of the Noldor, Thingol imposed conditions on them when he gave his leave for them to dwell in Beleriand, "...but elsewhere there are many of my people, and I would not have them restrained of their freedom...", J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, editor, The Silmarillion, (1977), p.111.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, editor, History of Middle-earth Vol.II, The Book of Lost Tales II Part. II, George Allen & Unwin, 1984, ISBN 0-04-823265-3, p. 220
- Rateliff, John D..The History of the Hobbit, One-Volume Edition, Harper Collins, 2013, ISBN 978 0 00 744082 5, p.406.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, editor, History of Middle-earth Vol.II, The Book of Lost Tales II Part. II, George Allen & Unwin, 1984, ISBN 0-04-823265-3, p. 164.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, editor, History of Middle-earth Vol.XI, (1994), p.359, specifically Quendi and Eldar, published in The War of the Jewels
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, editor, History of Middle-earth Vol.XI, (1994), p.409, specifically Quendi and Eldar, published in The War of the Jewels
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol. XI, (1994), p.422: the Tatyar Clan is itself made up of two groups of which it is said that most of the Noldor are from the younger group and it is possible that all the Tatyar that went to Aman were Noldor from this group. If, as it appears, Eöl is a Tatyar of the elder group it lends an additional irony to his conversation with Curufin about 'kin' and lends strength to his arguments to Turgon to release him.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, editor, History of Middle-earth Vol.XI, (1994) Maeglin, p.328.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol. XI, Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0395-71041-3, (1994), p.420, Quendi and Eldar, Note 33: "It is curious that - as in the original text of Maeglin, where he was 'of the kin of Thingol' - in my father's very late work on the story Eöl becomes again 'one of the Eldar' (p. 328), though consumed with hatred of the Noldor; whereas here he is a Mornedhel (one of the Avari), and moreover of the aboriginal Second Clan."
- Rateliff, John D., The History of the Hobbit, One-Volume Edition, Harper Collins, 2013, ISBN 978 0 00 744082 5.
- Tolkien J.R.R., Christopher Tolkien, editor, History of Middle-earth Vol.II, The Book of Lost Tales II Part. II, George Allen & Unwin, 1984, ISBN 0-04-823265-3.
- Tolkien J.R.R., Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth Vol.X, Morgoth's Ring, 1993.
- Tolkien J.R.R., Christopher Tolkien, editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol. XI, The War of the Jewels, Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0395-71041-3, 1994.
- Tolkien,J.R.R., Christopher Tolkien, editor,The Silmarillion, 1977, ISBN 0 395 25730 1.