(See also Celeborn the White Tree, seedling of Galathilion)
|Other names||Lord of the Wood, "the Lord", Lord of Lórien, Lord of the Galadhrim; T. Teleporno|
|Titles||Lord of the Golden Wood|
|Birth||Mid- to Late-Years of the Trees |
|Death||Passed West sometime during the early Fourth Age (aged 7100+)|
|Parentage||Unknown, possibly Elmo(Elwe and Olwe's brother) and possibly Olwë as father or grandfather|
|Gallery||Images of Celeborn|
Celeborn "the Wise" was a prince of the Falmari, who wedded the famous Galadriel of the Noldor and eventually became Lord of Lórien. He remains a fairly unsubstantial character in the legendarium, for despite his profound effect upon the doings of the first age, there is very little direct information on him as a person, mostly overshadowed by his wife.
According to later writings (see below), Celeborn was a Teler of noble rank in Alqualondë1, 2, born Teleporno. His parentage is uncertain; due to his rank he may have been a son, grandson, or even great-grandson of Olwë, King of the Falmari. Artanis, Olwë’s granddaughter and a Noldorin princess of great beauty, often spent long visits to Alqualondë and her mother’s kin. During this time the two fell in love, and Teleporno gave her the romantic epithet Alatáriel, meaning "Maiden Crowned with Radiant Garland"2.
Later, according to this account, Teleporno and Artanis helped to defend Alqualondë from the Noldor during the First Kinslaying. Nevertheless, Artanis’s heart was fired by the stories of Fëanor of the open lands across the sea. She urged Teleporno to take a ship westward to Endor, and he gave in. In doing so the two fell under the Ban of the Valar.
However, before Tolkien came up with this origin, Celeborn was first described as a Sindarin prince from Doriath, the grandson of Elmo (The brother of Elwe/Thingol). This origin was later changed as seen above. As a result there has been many debates about his origins and early life.
- Refer to Controversy.
In Endor, Teleporno and Artanis were greeted by Elu Thingol, High King of the Sindar and Lord of Doriath. The two gave him news of his old brothers and friends, Olwë and Finwë, but they said nothing about the kinslaying. Teleporno eventually Sindarinized his name to Celeborn; Artanis Sindarinized the epithet Celeborn had given her, and Alatáriel became Galadriel.
For the rest of the First Age Celeborn and Galadriel appear to have remained inactive, not affecting the course of events in Beleriand so much as their relatives, both Sindarin and Noldorin. For a time they dwelt in Nargothrond, but had moved back to Doriath by the year 300. They were not mentioned in the sacks of Nargothrond, Doriath, and the Havens, and so it may be presumed that they escaped one or more of these, or else moved down to the Isle of Balar. After the War of Wrath, the two were given the choice as to whether or not they wanted to go back to Aman. Galadriel, hurt and proud, refused the pardon. Celeborn, whether because he felt the same way or for his wife’s sake, likewise declined3.
After the fall of Beleriand, Celeborn ruled the fief of Harlindon, which was composed mostly of Sindar4, under the High King Gil-galad. He and Galadriel eventually moved to or founded Eregion. After Celebrimbor had largely taken over, they made contact with the Nandor of Lórinand, across the Hithaeglir. Not long after they went through Moria to live there, becoming great among its people.
After the making of the rings and the Sack of Eregion, Galadriel received one of the Three Rings, Nenya. After Amdír, King of Lórinand, died, so fell also Sauron, and the One Ring was lost. So Galadriel was able to put her ring to use, and made Lórinand even more beautiful and powerful.
After King Amroth died, Celeborn and Galadriel ruled jointly as the Lord and Lady over Lórinand, now known as Lothlórien. It was during this time that Galadriel bore Celeborn their first child, a daughter named Celebrían. Their daughter took as a husband Elrond, and dwelt in Imladris.
In response to the growing threat of Dol Guldur, the White Council was formed in 2463. Galadriel was on it; it is likely that Celeborn was also a member6 Some time after, during the calm before the War of the Ring (3019), Lórien received the Fellowship of the Ring, composed of various characters on the quest to destroy the One Ring. He offered advice, and boats for the Anduin, speeding them on their way.
Celeborn’s most significant recorded actions came in the year following, when he repulsed three attacks by orcs of Dol Guldur. Celeborn then marshaled his forces to cross the Anduin and lay siege to Dol Guldur. He captured the city, and Galadriel threw down its walls and purified it.
Post War of the Ring
- "I do not think we shall meet again."
"I do not know, Eldest."
- ― Treebeard and Celeborn, Many Partings.
Celeborn returned to Lothlórien, but the power of Nenya was broken. It no longer was filled with the light and life it had before. Galadriel shortly after passed west with the other ringbearers, and Celeborn, weary, moved to Imladris to live with Elladan and Elrohir, Elrond’s sons. After Círdan’s departure Celeborn was the last of the Wise in Middle-earth, they that had seen the glory of Valinor and the struggles of the Elvenkind. It is not recorded when he sought the Grey Havens and sailed west, but when he did so he took with him the last memory of the Elder Days in Middle-earth7.
What can be gleaned of his personality is that he was quick-thinking and swift to act, one of the wisest elves of Middle-earth in the Third Age. He was a warrior too, leading his followers into battle against Dol Guldur and other menaces. He is constantly shown deferring to his wife; sometimes for good5, sometimes for ill1.
According to the earlier versions of the legendarium, including the published Silmarillion, Celeborn was a Sindarin kinsman of Thingol, and met Galadriel when she came with the Noldor into exile. Celeborn as a Telerin prince seems a late development, and there is some dispute as to which is the more canonical. A Sindarin origin as Elmo's Grandson has been the most widely accepted one of all.
This simple origin was later changed: in Tolkien's last writings Celeborn is a Telerin Elf from Valinor, then named Teleporno in Telerin Quenya. (This brings him closer to being a peer and equal to Galadriel and makes their partnership seem more balanced.) He meets Galadriel when she is living in the Telerin city Alqualondë, before the rebellion of the Noldor. They decide to travel together to Middle-earth, without asking permission from the Valar to do so. While not involved with the rebellion of the Noldor, because they leave at the same time and without permission (which would certainly not have been granted at that time), Celeborn and Galadriel are caught under the same Ban that prevents them from returning. The name Teleporno was then "Sindarized" as Celeborn: Telerin telep ("silver") (Noldorin Quenya tyelep) was translated to Sindarin keleb (or celeb). In order to be counted as a kinsman of the Sindarin king Thingol, Celeborn must have been part of the family of the Telerin king Olwë, likely one of his sons or grandsons.
This altered origin was not adopted into the published Silmarillion, primarily because it would have necessitated a major rewrite of the earlier parts to account for a separate departure of Galadriel. A further problem was that this descent would have made Celeborn Galadriel's first or second cousin (assuming that he was still to be considered closely related to Thingol), and Elves never married close kin.
Up to the time when The Lord of the Rings was published, there had been no mention of Celeborn in the previously written legendarium. Tolkien later attempted multiple times to fix upon the story behind such an important elf.
In his first writings (which make up the bulk of the matter of Celeborn), the elf-lord is portrayed as a kinsman of Thingol, though by what relation is unknown. This was the approach chosen by Christopher Tolkien and Guy Kay for The Silmarillion.
In a brief, speculative paper written by Tolkien included in Unfinished Tales, Celeborn is made Thingol’s grandnephew, by the King’s brother Elmo. Elmo, also linked to Círdan, appears nowhere else in the legendarium.
In the later writings, Celeborn was one of the Falmari, in the account given above. This account is considered by many to be of greater canonical significance than the previous one, due to its later date. The only problem with that story is that it would make Celeborn either Galadriel's uncle or first cousin and Elves never married that close kin. Whereas him being Elmo's grandson would make him Galadriel's second cousin and marriage between second cousins were not that much frowned upon.
Celeborn probably comes from Sindarin celeb "silver" + orna "tall". Teleporno, his original Telerin Quenya name, has an identical meaning. The name Teleporno was "Sindarized" as Celeborn: Telerin telep ("silver") (Noldorin Quenya tyelep) was translated to Sindarin keleb or celeb.
He was given the epithet "the Wise" by Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings.
Portrayal in Adaptations
In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, Celeborn is played by Marton Csokas. The role was extremely small in the theatrical version, but expanded slightly in the Extended Edition of The Fellowship of the Ring. In that version, he participates in giving gifts to the Fellowship as they are leaving Lórien. Notably, he gives Aragorn a dagger and warns him of the dangers the Fellowship will face while sailing down the Anduin. In The Return of the King, Celeborn leaves for Valinor with Galadriel and the other Ringbearers, rather than remaining behind as in the book.
- Unfinished Tales, The History of Galadriel and Celeborn.
- The Peoples of Middle-earth, The Shibboleth of Fëanor.
- The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion.
- The Peoples of Middle-earth, Of Dwarves and Men, note 65.
- The Lord of the Rings, various chapters.
- The Lord of the Rings, Appendices A and B.
- The Lord of the Rings, Prologue.