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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 stayed behind to search for him, while the rest continued on to Valinor. Melian and Thingol soon thereafter found the kingdom of Doriath in Middle-earth. Their only daughter, Lúthien Tinúviel, married the man Beren Erchamion, and as a result, Melian's Maian blood was passed on to both Elves and Men.
When war with the Great Enemy, Morgoth, came to Doriath, she used her powers to guard and defend it with a protection called List Melian, or "the Girdle of Melian". This prevented anyone less powerful than Melian from entering the kingdom. However, with the foresight of a Maia, she predicted that one day someone more powerful would be able to enter. When Beren arrived as foretold, she counseled King Thingol against sending Beren to search for a Silmaril, which would eventually lead to Doriath's ruin. This was one of many instances in which she proved, 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 passed the Girdle. In Doriath she also became a friend and tutor of Galadriel to whom she taught the art of lembas-baking. After the departure of Lúthien and Beren, she aided Túrin and his mother and sister. She provided Beleg with some way-bread, lembas, and foresaw his doom in his quest for Túrin. When Húrin returned, she was the one to lift the spell of Morgoth from him.
After Thingol's death, she vanished from Middle-earth, passing to Valinor, where she mourned 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 was also the only Ainu known to have had children in the "official" drafts of Tolkien's work.
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