'Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been.'
(The Silmarillion, 98)
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This post continues my chapter-by-chapter walk through of The Silmarillion. This time, I look at the eleventh chapter of The Silmarillion proper, "Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor." You can see all the posts in this series by clicking here. You can also find other Silmarillion resources here.
With the hurricane of catastrophes brought on by Morgoth’s murder of the Two Trees subsiding, the dust is settling, and the Valar have some decisions to make. Chapter 11 of The Silmarillion deals with the creation of the Sun and the Moon as well as the hiding of Valinor from the peoples of Beleriand and all other lands.
- The Birth of the Sun and the Moon: With the Two Trees dead, Middle-earth has a light problem. Thankfully, a fruit and a flower remain from them. The flower becomes the moon while the fruit becomes the sun.
- Morgoth Weakening: Having obtained the Silmarils, Morgoth is becoming lazy. Instead of going forth to wreak havoc himself, he instead makes his minions do his dirty work for him. However, as he does so, his own power slowly dissipates.
- The Valar Shut the Door: As the Valar had warned the Noldor that followed Fëanor, Valinor is now shut against them. In fact, it is shut against any person of the east that tries to venture into the west.
- Silmarils Are The Only Remaining Light of the Two Trees: While the sun and the moon are a big help, they do not recall the light of the Two Trees. Only the Silmarils are able to do that.
- The Sun and the Moon Are Signs: The Moon comes first and signifies the Elves. The Sun comes next and signifies the awakening of Men as well as the diminishing of the Elves.
- The Mightiest Mariner of Song: The last line hints at the one who will pass back into Valinor in time and thus deliver Beleriand from the scourges and sorrows of Morgoth.
- O Happy Fault!: As Manwë makes clear at the beginning of the chapter, even though evil shall always remain evil, nevertheless because of the greater things that will come into the world as a result of it, it will be good for it to have been.
For the Valar may work many things with thought rather than with hands, and without voices in silence they may hold council one with another.
[N]either the Sun nor the Moon can recall the light that was of old, that came from the Trees before they were touched by the poison of Ungoliant. That light lives now in the Silmarils alone.
And in that time also, which songs call Nurtalë Valinóreva, the Hiding of Valinor, the Enchanted Isles were set, and all the seas about them were filled with shadows and bewilderment. And these isles were strung as a net in the Shadowy Seas from the north to the south, before Tol Eressëa, the Lonely Isle, is reached by one sailing west.
I love Manwë’s outlook here: "Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." If anything of Tolkien’s speaks to the reality of our own world it is this.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on this chapter in the comments below.
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