In Valinor, Melian dwelt in the gardens of Lórien, but she journeyed often to Middle-earth. There, in the woods of Nan Elmoth, she came upon Elwë Singollo (later known as Elu Thingol) as he marched into the West with the people of the Teleri. As a result of his absence a portion of his followers stay behind to search for him, the rest continue on to Valinor. Melian and Thingol thereafter found the kingdom of Doriath in Middle-earth. Their only daughter, Lúthien Tinúviel, eventually marries the man Beren Erchamion. As a result, Melian's maian blood is passed on to both Elves and Men.
When war with the Great Enemy, Morgoth, comes to Doriath she uses her powers to guard and defend it with a protection called List Melian, the Girdle of Melian. Its magic mazes of mists prevent anyone less powerful than Melian from entering the kingdom. However, with the foresight of a Maia, she predicts that one day someone whose fate is more powerful will enter. When Beren arrives as foretold, she counsels King Thingol against sending Beren for a Silmaril, a quest which would eventually have a part in Doriath's ruin. This is one of many instances in which she proves, through her wisdom and powers of foresight, to be wiser than her husband, and an effective queen of her land. The great evil wolf Carcharoth also passes the Girdle. In Doriath she also becomes a friend and tutor of Galadriel to whom she teaches the art of lembas-baking. After the departure of Lúthien and Beren, she aides Túrin and his mother and sister. She provides Beleg with some way-bread, lembas, and foresees his doom in his quest for Túrin. When Húrin returns she is the one to lift the spell of Morgoth from him.
After Thingol's death, she vanishes from Middle-earth, passing to Valinor, where she mourns the loss of her husband in the Halls of Mandos and her daughter to the unknown fate of human death. Melian and Thingol were a unique couple, the only case where an Ainu married any Elf or Man. She is also the only Ainu known to have had children in the "official" drafts of Tolkien's work.
Name meanings according to The Etymologies in The History of Middle-earth, Volume 5.
- Melian: Sindarin for Beloved.
- List Melian: Sindarin for Girdle of Melian.
In the early legendarium Melian is defined as a fay, making her somewhat more sinister than in her later appearance. This version of her is presented in The Tale of Tinúviel, Tolkien's first story of Beren and Lúthien, which was written in archaic english and published in the second part of the Book of Lost Tales. In this work she appears in another later narrative, although her character is portrayed as being far weaker and more frail Melian's final manifestation.
Elu Thingol = MELIAN | | | House of Bëor | : | : Lúthien = Beren | | Dior Eluchíl = Nimloth | ________|________ | | | | | | Eärendil = Elwing Eluréd Elurín | ____|____ | | | | Elrond Elros
|Eönwë · Ilmarë · Ossë · Uinen · Salmar · Sauron · Melian · Arien · Tilion · Gothmog|
Curumo (Saruman) · Olórin (Gandalf) · Aiwendil (Radagast) · Alatar · Pallando · Durin's Bane