Elendil

Elendil is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He is mentioned in The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. He was the father of Isildur and Anárion, last lord of Andúnië, and the first High King of Arnor and Gondor.

Elendil
Tolkien character
In-universe information
AliasesThe Tall, Voronda,
Lord of Andúnië,
High King of Arnor and Gondor
RaceMen
Book(s)The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955)
The Silmarillion (1977)
Unfinished Tales (1980)

Tolkien called Elendil a "Noachian figure", an echo of the biblical Noah; Elendil escaped from the flood that drowned Númenor, itself an echo of the myth of Atlantis, founding new Númenórean kingdoms in Middle-earth.

Fictional historyEdit

BiographyEdit

Elendil was born in Númenor, son of Amandil, Lord of Andúnië and leader of the "Faithful" (those who remained loyal to the Valar), who maintained a strong friendship with the Elves and preserved the old ways against the practices of king Ar-Pharazôn and Sauron. His father Amandil had been a great admiral of the Númenórean fleet and a close friend to Ar-Pharazôn in their youth, but when the days darkened, he resorted to do what their ancestor Eärendil had done, sail to Valinor and ask for the pardon of the Valar. Amandil was never heard of again, but on his urging, Elendil, his sons Isildur and Anárion, and their supporters fled the downfall of Númenor at the end of the Second Age, escaping to Middle-earth in nine ships. Elendil landed in Lindon where he was befriended by Gil-galad, the Elven King. The waves carried Isildur and Anárion south to the Bay of Belfalas and the mouth of the River Anduin.[T 1] They founded the realms of Arnor and Gondor in Middle-earth at the end of the Second Age. With them they took the palantíri, the "Seeing Stones" that were given to the Lords of Andúnië by the Elves of Tol Eressëa, and a seedling of Nimloth, the White Tree of Númenor.[T 2]

Unfinished Tales explains that, upon landing in Middle-earth, Elendil proclaimed in Quenya: Et Eärello Endorenna utúlien. Sinome maruvan ar Hildinyar tenn' Ambar-metta! "Out of the Great Sea to Middle-earth I am come. In this place will I abide, and my heirs, unto the ending of the world." His heir and 38-greats-grandson Aragorn spoke these traditional words again when he took up the crown of Gondor in The Return of the King.

Elendil lived in Arnor, where he founded the city of Annúminas. His sons lived in Gondor; Anárion founded the city of Minas Anor (later Minas Tirith) in Anórien, and Isildur founded Minas Ithil (later Minas Morgul) in Ithilien.

As explained in The Fellowship of the Ring, Sauron eventually returned to Middle-earth, establishing a stronghold in Mordor, which was next to Gondor. He attacked, seizing Minas Ithil. Isildur fled north to his father, leaving Anárion in charge of Gondor. Elendil and Isildur returned south, together with Gil-galad and their combined armies, in the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. They defeated Sauron in the Battle of Dagorlad, and laid siege to his stronghold of Barad-dûr. During this long siege Anárion was killed. Finally, Sauron came out personally to do battle. Gil-galad and Elendil fought him, but both were killed, and Elendil's sword was broken beneath him. Isildur used his father's broken sword to cut the One Ring from Sauron's hand.

Line of the Half-elvenEdit

Half-elven family tree[T 3][T 4]
Melian the MaiaThingol
of the Teleri
House of BëorHouse of HalethHouse of HadorFinwë
of the Noldor
Indis
of the Vanyar
Olwë
of the Teleri
BarahirBelegundHarethGaldorFingolfinFinarfinEärwen
LúthienBerenRíanHuorHúrinTurgonElenwë
DiorNimlothTuorIdril
ElurédElurínElwingEärendilCelebornGaladriel
ElrosElrondCelebrían
22 Kings
of Númenor and
Lords of Andúnië
Elendil
IsildurAnárion
22 High Kings
of Arnor
and Arthedain
27 Kings
of Gondor
ArveduiFiriel
15 Dúnedain
Chieftains
AragornArwenElladanElrohir
EldarionUnnamed daughters
Colour key:
Colour Description
  Elves
  Men
  Maiar
  Half-elven
  Half-elven who chose the fate of elves
  Half-elven who chose the fate of mortal men

ReceptionEdit

Biblical echoesEdit

 
Tolkien compared Elendil to the Biblical Noah, both men having escaped from the wreck of a civilisation by ship.[T 5] Fresco in San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, Milan

Nicholas Birns, a scholar of literature, notes Elendil's survival of Númenor's fall, an event that recalls to him both Plato's Atlantis and the Biblical fall of man; he notes that Tolkien called Elendil a "Noachian figure",[T 5] an echo of the biblical Noah.[1] Tolkien explains that Elendil "held off" from the Númenórean rebellion, and had kept ships ready; he "flees before the overwhelming storm of the wrath of the West [from Valinor], and is borne high upon the towering waves that bring ruin to the west of the Middle-earth."[T 5] Birns notes that Elendil, who he calls a hugely important figure in Middle-earth, must be later "in comparative time" than Noah; where Noah was a refugee, Elendil was "an imperialist, a founder of realms". However, he grants that "Noachian" implies a class of people like Noah, and the possibility of different kinds of flood. Birns comments that Middle-earth has its Creation and Flood myths, but not exactly a fall of man. He suggests that Tolkien, as a Catholic, may have been more comfortable working with the forces of nature seen in Creation and Flood, but preferred to leave the fall alone; he notes that both Creation and Flood are found in non-Christian tales from the Middle East, citing the Epic of Gilgamesh for the Flood and the Enuma Elish for Creation.[1]

The priest and Tolkien scholar Fleming Rutledge writes that Aragorn, narrating the Lay of Beren and Lúthien to the hobbits, tells them that Lúthien's line "shall never fail". She talks of the "kings of Númenor, that is Westernesse", and as they gaze at him, they see that the moon "climbs behind him as if to crown him", which Rutledge calls an echo of the Transfiguration. Rutledge explains that Aragorn is of the line of Elendil and knows he will inherit "the crown of Elendil and the other Kings of vanished Númenor", just as Jesus is of the line of King David, fulfilling the prophecy that the line of Kings would not fail.[2]

Zak Cramer notes in Mallorn that Tolkien's middle name, Reuel, means "God's friend", and could be written "El's friend" with reference to the Hebrew word for "God". He speculates that Elendil, "Elf-friend", may have been a wordplay on this name.[3]

Classical echoesEdit

The classical scholar J. K. Newman compares the myth of Elendil and his son Isildur's defeat of Sauron and taking the Ring with Jason's taking of the Golden Fleece. In both, a golden prize is taken; in both, there are evil consequences – Isildur is betrayed and the Ring is lost, leading to the War of the Ring and Frodo's quest; Medea murders Jason's children.[4]

Germanic echoesEdit

Tolkien writes in a 1964 letter that the Elendil story began when C. S. Lewis and he agreed to write a space travel and a time travel story respectively. Tolkien's tale was to be called Númenor, the Land in the West, with repeated father-son pairs whose names meant "Bliss-friend" and "Elf-friend" each time. The Elf-friends were to be Elwin in present time; Ælfwine (Old English) around 918 AD; Alboin from "Lombardic legend"; and eventually Elendil of Númenor. Tolkien states that he lost interest in the others, and focussed on Elendil, whose story he incorporated into his "main mythology".[T 6][5] One of Tolkien's correspondents, the scholar of English, Rhona Beare, writes in Mythlore that Elendil is a "remote ancestor" of Alboin; when Alboin travels back in time he finds Númenor simultaneously familiar and strange, because he can see it both with Elendil's eyes and with his own.[6]

AdaptationsEdit

 
Elendil was played by Peter McKenzie in Peter Jackson's 2001 film The Fellowship of the Ring.[7]

In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Elendil is portrayed by Peter McKenzie. He appears in the prologue, where he is killed by Sauron.[7]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

PrimaryEdit

This list identifies each item's location in Tolkien's writings.
  1. ^ Tolkien (1977) The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  2. ^ Tolkien (1977) The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth"
  3. ^ The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age": Family Trees I and II: "The house of Finwë and the Noldorin descent of Elrond and Elros", and "The descendants of Olwë and Elwë"
  4. ^ The Return of the King, Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers, I The Númenórean Kings
  5. ^ a b c Carpenter (1981), Letter #131 to Milton Waldman, late 1951
  6. ^ Carpenter (1981), Letter #257 to Christopher Bretherton, 16 July 1964

SecondaryEdit

  1. ^ a b Birns, Nicholas. "The Stones and the Book: Tolkien, Mesopotamia, and Biblical Mythopoeia". Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  2. ^ Rutledge, Fleming (2004). The Battle for Middle-earth: Tolkien's Divine Design in The Lord of the Rings. Wm. B. Eerdmans. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-8028-2497-4.
  3. ^ Cramer, Zak (2006). "Jewish Influences in Middle-earth". Mallorn (44 (August 2006)): 9–16.
  4. ^ Newman, J. K. (2005). "J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings": A Classical Perspective". Illinois Classical Studies. 30: 229–247. JSTOR 23065305.
  5. ^ Shippey, Tom (2005) [1982]. The Road to Middle-Earth (Third ed.). HarperCollins. p. 337. ISBN 978-0261102750.
  6. ^ Beare, Rhona (1996). "Time Travel". Mythlore. 21 (3 (81, Summer 1996)): 33–35. JSTOR 26812581.
  7. ^ a b Pringle, Gill (20 September 2013). "Bret McKenzie: Conchord flies into Prejudice". Retrieved 11 August 2020.

SourcesEdit