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Beleg's whetting spell

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"Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless?" - Tom Bombadil
This article describes a concept which is mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but was never given a definite name.
The last moments of Beleg Cúthalion by Anke Eißmann

Beleg's whetting spell is a magic song according to the early version of the legendarium in The Lay of the Children of Húrin. The spell mentions several and mysterious concepts that would never appear in other works by J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] History

After Túrin had been captured by Orcs, his friend Beleg and the Gnome Flinding rescued him from the enemy's camp while he was still chained and unconscious. Once they took him nearby, Beleg sought his sword to cut Túrin's chains, but whispering magic songs to sharpen it:

There wondrous wove he  words of sharpness,
and the names of knives  and Gnomish blades
he uttered o'er it:  even Ogbar's spear
and the glaive of Gaurin  whose gleaming stroke
did rive the rocks  of Rodrim's hall;
the sword of Saithnar,  and the silver blades
of the enchanted children  of chains forged
in their deep dungeon;  the dirk of Nargil,
the knife of the North  in Nogrod smithied;
the sweeping sickle  of the slashing tempest,
the lambent lightning's  leaping falchion
even Celeg Aithorn  that shall cleave the world.
Then whistling whirled he  the whetted sword-blade
and three times three  it threshed the gloom,
till flame was kindled  flickering strangely
like licking firelight  in the lamp's glimmer
blue and baleful  at the blade's edges.
The Lay of the Children of Húrin, "II. Beleg", vv. 1207-1223

As Christopher Tolkien comments, the spell over the unnamed sword (later Anglachel) is an element that only appears in the Lay. It resembles Lúthien's 'lengthening spell', but there is no trace elsewhere of the mysterious characters and weapons mentioned by Beleg: Ogbar, Gaurin, Rodrim, Saithnar, Nargil and Celeg Aithorn.[1]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lays of Beleriand, "I. The Lay of the Children of Húrin: II. Beleg", Commentary on Part II 'Beleg', p. 54