The tale begins with Ilúvatar's creation of spirits of lesser power than him, yet of independent nature, named the Ainur ("Holy Ones"). With them Ilúvatar makes divine music. Morgoth, one of the greatest of the Ainur, in his pride broke the harmony. Ilúvatar then began the music once more, in which Manwë, Melkor's brother, sang the leading part. Yet again, the harmony was broken.
Finally, Ilúvatar began a third theme which the Ainur could not comprehend since they were not the source of it. He then ceased the music and showed to the Ainur the essence of what their song symbolized, the history of a whole world. This is known as the "Vision of Ilúvatar". The Ainur became fascinated by it, and asked Ilúvatar to put it into being.
Ilúvatar spoke "Eä", that is, "Be!". This command created the universe, and therefore the universe became known as "Eä". Four of the Ainur who possessed the greatest power formed a region within Eä which they called Arda, a world which was to be the scene of all the following tales of The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings. Melkor, who was one of the four, attempted to take it for his own. However Manwë, who was also one of the four, asked for the help of other Ainur. They descended to Arda and Melkor was forced to flee to the unknown parts of Eä.
To the mortal Men Eru gave the gift of freedom, so that when they die their souls go somewhere beyond the known existence. Perhaps they go to sing with Ilúvatar the second Music of the Ainur; this is the reason why Men are not constrained by the fate of the Music like the Elves and other beings of Arda are.
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