Je n'aime pas dans les vieux films américains quand les conducteurs ne regardent pas la route. Et de ratage en ratage, on s'habitue à ne jamais dépasser le stade du brouillon. La vie n'est que l'interminable répétition d'une représentation qui n'aura jamais lieu.

Middle Earth Chronology: Of Maeglin!


FA 304 – 340

*Okay, so Of Maeglin is chapter 16 of the Quenta Silmarillion, obviously found in The Silmarillion,  It has a nice little story that would make a good plot, sub-plot or, in the case of the series being turned into a wacky comedy, running gag in my fourth movie.

*This story takes place from FA 304 – 340. It thus begins nearly a hundred years after Glaurung's defeat. We would be about halfway through the Long Peace at this time, if I have my dates correct.

*So, Turgon's sister, Aredhel Ar-Feiniel, the White Lady, decides she's tired of hanging out in Gondolin, so she asks him if she can leave and he says he'd rather she didn't, but if she really must, why doesn't she go see Fingon, her other brother. And then she says, seriously, that she ain't his servant, so bye and she'll go wherever she wants.

*If Turgon disappeared into Gondolin about FA 60 or 70, then Aredhel's probably been hanging out there for almost 250 years. So, I guess, yeah, you'd get a little stir crazy.

*"Turn now south and not north, for I will not ride to Hithlum."

*I guess she's been hearing the weather reports too. Rain. Hithlum. Rain. Hear Hithlum, think rain. Lots of rain in Hithlum. Cats and dogs. Buckets and buckets. Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall. I mean, cloudburst. Maybe even a little Purple Rain. We're talkin' downpour. I mean, drenching, soaking rain. I mean, like Seattle except even worse. Can't even sing in that Hithlum rain. I say Hithlum, you say Rain. Hell, no, she ain't ridin' to no Hithlum. You think she gonna ride out in the rain or sumthin? Hell, no.

*I say Hithlum, you say . . .

*Oh, that was pathetic. I'll test you again later.

*It's almost obscene how much fun I just had with that. I hope you think it's funny because I'm cracking up right now.

*So, anyway, she and her escorts run into some 'shadows' and get seperated. Her escorts return to Gondolin and tell Turgon she's dead, because, you know, she was in the shadows and they totally couldn't see her there.

*So, she stumbles into the woods where a Dark Elf named Eol lives. He's one of the Elves who stayed in Middle Earth and didn't go to Valinor. He's long ago gone native with the Dwarves; after Melian put up her magic fence, he left Thingol's realm and has since lived with the Dwarves, learning metal work.

*So, Aredhel shows up lost at his doorstep and the two end up getting married. They have a son that Eol names Maeglin and Aredhel is actually pretty happy for a while.

*Eventually, Aredhel decides she'd like to go back to Gondolin and Maeglin decides he'd like to go too, since Turgon's wife died during the long Ice Crossing after the Burning of the Boats and so Turgon has no heir. Maeglin, of course, thinks he might get a little kingship for himself, being Turgon's nephew.

*So, because Eol is actually pretty possessive and won't let his wife or son leave the woods, they wait until Eol has gone to a party with the Dwarves and then they run off.

*Unlike every Lifetime movie you've ever seen, Aredhel doesn't fake her own death in order to throw Eol off the scent.

*Eol gets back early though and follows them. He's stealthy enough that they actually lead him to the secret pass that leads to Gondolin.

*Eol has never really liked the Noldor, since that whole 'leaving to go to Valinor' thing and now when Turgon tells him that they'll all have to stay in Gondolin because the law states that once you've found your way there, you can't leave, Eol gets really mad, since he loves the wood and the night.

*Turgon tells Eol that he can either live in Gondolin or die there.

*Eol says that he choose the latter for himself and his son. He draws a poisoned javelin from his cloak and flings it at Maeglin, but Arendhel leaps in front of it and is killed. Turgon has Eol executed by being flung off a precipice.

*That whole javelin scene reminded me of Saul and Jonathan in the Bible. In that instance, Saul, the king, believed that his son Jonathan was covering for David, who Saul was trying to have killed. He was, in fact, right about that, as I'm sure everyone has heard of the great friendship of David and Jonathan.

*Anyway, the great climax of the Saul/Jonathan tension comes when Saul finally accuses Jonathan of hiding David from him and, finally snapping, throws a spear at him during a banquet. A father launching a spear at his own son; a powerful, chilling image, used to great effect both in the Bible and here.

*There's hardly a better epic in early literature than the story of Saul, David and Jonathan. Saul is a completely modern character; reading the story today, it's like a textbook case of mental illness, paranoia and schizophrenia. Go read, if you haven't, I & II Samuel. Astonishing. Every character is perfectly sketched and perfectly human.

*King James Version of I & II Samuel, it should, but sadly does not, go without saying. 

*All seems well for Maeglin (except that, well, he just saw both of his parents violently murdered) as Turgon takes him in as his son.

*Problem: Turgon has a daughter named Idril and Maeglin falls crazy in love with her.

*All right! Kissing cousins! Incest! Finally! Now we're gettin' somewhere!

*Anyway, marriage between cousins is forbidden in Gondolin and anyway, Idril knows he's in love with her and thinks it's kind of creepy.

*Astonishing Prose Alert:

*"For from his first days in Gondolin he had borne a grief, ever worsening, that robbed him of all joy: he loved the beauty of Idril and desired her, without hope. The Eldar wedded not with kin so near, nor ever before had any desired to do so. And however that might be, Idril loved Maeglin not at all; and knowing his thought of her she loved him the less. For it seemed to her a thing strange and crooked in him, as indeed the Eldar ever since have deemed it: an evil fruit of the Kinslaying, whereby the shadow of the curse of Mandos fell upon the last hope of the Noldor. But as the years passed still Maeglin watched Idril, and waited, and his love turned to darkness in his heart . . . Thus it was in Gondolin; and amid all the bliss of that realm, while its glory lasted, a dark seed of evil was sown."

*I've never been in love with a cousin, but I was in love with a married woman once, which more or less paralleled the above. It's astounding how simply and yet truly Tolkien states it there: "he . . . desired her, without hope." That's about the most hellish state you can be in, I'll tell you.

*And the longer it goes on, the worse it becomes. It does become darkness and ultimately it does feel strange and crooked, even to yourself. I'll tell you, I've been through some rough stuff, but I never want to be there again. It's . . . all pain.

*For more on loving someone you shouldn't against your will, definitely read Maugham's  Of Human Bondage, which I think really expresses it as truthfully as it has ever been expressed in literature.

*And listen to Time Out of Mind by Bob Dylan, an album of unrequited love sickness and utter despair. I think it's my favorite album of all time. It captures it exactly.

*And you might, too, pray it never happens to you.

*And thus, with that dark pronouncement of the seed of evil sown in Gondolin, Chapter 16 comes to a close.

J.R.R. Tolkien

*Next time, Chapter 17 and the arrival of Men in Beleriand. This can't be good.