*This project is exactly what it claims to be. It's a chronological journey through the story of Middle Earth. I've previously read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but I've never cracked the Silmarillion, investigated any of the unfinished tales or looked The History of Middle Earth. So, the time is right, I think.
*I'll be using this timeline. There are plenty on the net, but I've chosen this one for several reasons.
*Number One: this one is purely based around the texts; a lot of the timelines/chronologies I've found are based around events and would require some work to figure out exactly which texts they refer too.
*Number two: I'll be getting a lot of books from the library and, unlike, some very famous chronologies, this doesn't require me having all the books at once and writing all over them.
*Number three: this timeline is the most complete that I've found. It includes a lot of bits from The History of Middle Earth, though it doesn't include any rough draft material, just stories that were never quite told anywhere else or not told in much detail. It also includes, and this may be controversial, LOTR EU, those very few stories written in the brief window between Tolkien's death and the decision of the Tolkien estate to shut the door completely on letting anyone else work in Middle Earth.
*Number four: this timeline comes from the same people who gave me the X-Files and Star Wars timelines I'm using, so that's a good thing and I’ll give one more big shout out to Joe Bongiorno.
The Creation of Ea
*One of two very short prologues of a sort to The Silmarillion proper. This one is under eight pages in the edition of the Silmarillion I'm reading.
*"There was Eru, the One." So, this is God, I'm presuming.
*So, Eru, also known as Iluvatar, leads the Ainur, his first creation, in a song; one powerful member of the Ainur by the name of Melkor tries to interpolate his own melody, but Iluvatar keeps overriding him with a new theme.
*Ultimately, this song paints a . . . vision or a model or the ideal of the earth. Iluvatar has essentially been showing the Ainur what he's going to shortly send some of them to do.
*I'm quite familiar with the Bible (perhaps one reason the Silmarillion won’t be as difficult for me as it is for some people). I've read the Bible perhaps two dozen times or something like that. So, I'll be noting more Biblical similarities than other kinds, probably.
*So, the world formed in a song, in Tolkien's lore, as Iluvatar leads the Ainur in music. Let's go to Job, my favorite book of the Old Testament.
*As God appears at the close of that book, in chapter 38, to essentially upbraid Job for having the temerity to think he knows better than God Himself, God poses a series of questions, meant to remind Job of his smallness in the universe. Here's a brief passage:
*"Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations fastened? Or who laid the corner stone thereof, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
*So, the Hebrew Bible, of which Job is probably the very oldest book, if I've been keeping up with current scholarship, also has the world formed in the midst of a song. A song by the 'morning stars,' perhaps meaning angels or perhaps meaning actual stars. Whatever.
*It should also be noted that the phrasing translated as 'morning stars' in the KJV, my translation of choice, has been translated in later versions as 'daystars.' I've read far enough along in the Silmarillion to recognize the significance of that as well.
*Daystar and the Morning Star are also, of course, significant names for Christ in the New Testament, but enough about that.
*Also, this got me digging. Melkor's fall from grace here is obviously inspired by the Judeo-Christian tradition of Lucifer's fall from being, well, Lucifer, the "Light Carrier" to being Satan, the "Adversary."
*This story of Lucifer's fall isn't very clearly enunciated in the Bible; it's mostly a patchwork of vague passages in several of the prophetic books, like Isaiah and Ezekiel. But I recalled that part of the Christian pop culture of this myth, if you will, is that Lucifer was in charge of music in heaven prior to his fall.
*That obviously connects to Melkor and his rebellion being in the form of his own musical themes. So, I did some digging to see if that's Scriptural or not, the idea of Lucifer being in charge of the music. There's a vague reference to Lucifer, if it is in fact Lucifer and not just an earthly king of some kind, in Ezekiel as having timbrels and pipes, meaning musical pipes and tambourines. So, it's quite an extrapolation, but still worth mentioning here, I think, in conjunction with Melkor's initial fall being a musical one, that of trying to introduce his own theme into Iluvatar's composition.
*I have no idea when that became part of the Lucifer Story, as it were. I don't know if that's more modern or if, in fact, Tolkien might have been aware of that version of Lucifer's duties in heaven. Food for thought.
*So, Melkor weaves his own theme:
*"Some of those thoughts he now wove into his music and straightway discord arose about him and many that sang nigh him grew despondent, and their thought was disturbed and their music faltered; but some began to attune their music to his rather than to the thought which they had heard at first. Then the discord of Melkor spread ever wider, and the melodies which had been heard before foundered in a sea of turbulent sound. But Iluvatar sat and hearkened until it seemed that about his throne there was a raging storm, as of dark waters that made war one upon another in an endless wrath that would not be assuaged."
*So, basically, this is where Bitches Brew comes from, yeah?
*Endless Wrath would have been a good name for that album, actually.
*So, Iluvatar sends some of the Ainur down to sort of fix up the world that Iluvatar has created for them to fix up. They're to use the pattern showed to them by Iluvatar in the song. Melkor, well fallen in anger and pride, sets out to keep those Ainur, now called the Valar, from completing that work.
*And there's something else Biblical here, in the picture of the pattern in heaven and the execution on earth. In the Pentateuch of Moses, much is made of the fact that the tabernacle created by the children of Israel during the wilderness wanderings was in fact created "after the pattern" of the actual tabernacle of God in heaven.
*Of course, there's something very Platonic about this too in its picture of the ideal and the always lacking reality. As Melkor hinders the Valar, Arda (or Ea or Earth oh whatever) never quite becomes exactly what the pattern would indicate.
*Even in this failure to achieve perfection or the ideal, as Plato called it, still the will of Iluvatar is achieved in its own way and its own time.
*And as the Ainulindale or The Music of the Ainur ends, Arda has indeed been created. Elves, the Firstborn, will be coming soon; Men, the Followers, after that. Dwarves . . . well, just don't ask about the dwarves yet. There's this whole thing with the dwarves.
*Enjoyable, short, mythic, obviously inspired by a host of things, notably the fall of Lucifer and the doctrine of the Platonic ideal.J.R.R. Tolkien
*Next time, the Valaquenta!