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Ælfwine

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Ælfwine, also known as Wídlást ('Fartravelled') called by the Elves Eriol, was the first Man to find the Straight Road and visit Tol Eressëa after many millennia.

Ælfwine son of Éadwine, son of Óswine was born around 869 AD. An Anglo-Saxon, living in Britain during the 10th century. When Ælfwine was nine years old, his father sailed off with his ship Éarendel and never returned.

Because of the attacks of the Danes, his mother fled with him from Somerset, where they lived, to the West Wales, where she had her kindred.

He was a long way descendant of Eärendil, and had, like all of Eärendil's descendants, sea-longing in his blood[1]. He was a sailor and a minstrel in the service of king .

Having grown up to full manhood and learned the Welsh language and much sea-craft he returned to Somerset to serve the King Eadweard's thegn Odda in the wars. In the service of Odda he sailed and visited both Wales and Ireland many times. On his journeys he always sought tales of the sea, and thus came to hear the Irish legends of Maelduin and Saint Brendan, who both set out to sea, and came to "many islands in succession, where they encountered marvel upon marvel"[2]. He heard also of a great land in the west which had been cast down. The survivors of the disaster had settled on Ireland and dwindled there; and the successors of these men all had the sea-longing in their blood, so that many sailed off west and never returned. Ælfwine thought he might be one of these descendants.

Around the year 915, in autumn, the Danes attacked Porlock. They were at first driven off and Ælfwine's company managed to capture a Danish "cnearr" at night. At dawn Ælfwine told to his closest friend, Tréowine, he intended to sail off westward, perhaps to the country of the legendary king Sheaf. Tréowine agreed to accompany him at least as far as to Ireland. They got two other companions: Ceola of Somerset and Geraint of West Wales.

Many days after they passed Ireland the voyagers were exhausted. A "dreamlike death" seemed to come over them, and soon they passed out. The last that is known of the journey is that Tréowine saw the world plunge down under them, while sailing the Straight Road.

When Ælfwine woke up, he found himself lying on a beach of Tol Eressëa and a group of Elves pulling up his ship on the shore. He came to Tavrobel, where lived Pengolodh who told him the Ainulindalë [3], and he was shown the Lammas [4], the Quenta Silmarillion, the Golden Book [5], The Narn i Chîn Húrin [6], and the Annals of Aman and Beleriand.

Ælfwine learned much of this lore. When he returned to England, he translated the Silmarillion, the Annals and the Narn into Old English, giving explanations on the many names.

Other versions of the Legendarium

Although there is no such framework in the published version of The Silmarillion, some of the later writings of Tolkien indicate that he didn't fully abandon the idea of a framework. However, although Ælfwine is still referred to in some writings he wrote after The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien ultimately changed the intended framework of The Silmarillion from the tale of Ælfwine to one based around Bilbo Baggins' edits of "Elvish lore".

Ælfwine is also given as the author of the various translations in Old English that appear in the History of Middle-earth series. A minor discrepancy is that whereas Ælfwine is described as hailing from the north-west of England, his Old English texts are in the Mercian dialect, which was Tolkien's favourite.

Etymology

The name Ælfwine simply means "Elf-friend", and is the Old English equivalent of Elendil and of course Elfwine. It is possibly intended as a cognate of Alboin and Alwin.


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