Ainulindalë (Morgoth's Ring)

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The name Ainulindalë refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Ainulindalë (disambiguation).
Morgoth's Ring
Part One: Ainulindalë
Part Two: The Annals of Aman
Part Three: The Later Quenta Silmarillion
  1. The First Phase
    1. Of the Valar
    2. Of Valinor and the Two Trees
    3. Of the Coming of the Elves
    4. Of Thingol and Melian
    5. Of Eldanor and the Princes of the Eldalië
    6. Of the Silmarils and the Darkening of Valinor
    7. Of the Flight of the Noldor
    8. Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor
  2. The Second Phase
    1. The Valaquenta
    2. The Earliest Version of the Story of Finwë and Míriel
    3. Laws and Customs Among the Eldar
    4. Later Versions of the Story of Finwë and Míriel
    5. Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor
    6. Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor
    7. Of the Darkening of Valinor
    8. Of the Rape of the Silmarils
    9. Of the Thieves' Quarrel
Part Four: Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth
Tale of Adanel
Part Five: Myths Transformed

The Ainulindalë is the first part of Morgoth's Ring, the tenth volume of The History of Middle-earth. It contains three different versions of the Ainulindalë (Rúmil's work) written after the last version published in The Lost Road and Other Writings.


When he had just begun to write The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien rewrote the cosmological myth in what his son lettered as Ainulindalë B. Christopher assumed that his father didn't come back to the matter of the Elder Days until finishing The Lord of the Rings, but editing this new volume, he realized that Tolkien did work on the Ainulindalë before starting The Return of the King. He found a single torn sheet of a new version of the Ainulindalë from 1946 and two drafts of the Letter 115. This letter was probably written in 1948, to Katharine Farrer, the wife of the theologian Austin Farrer, answering her comments on the Legendarium. He had previously lent her some manuscripts, including a Round World Version of the Ainulindalë, which Christopher letters as C*, and the previous Ainulindalë B. Mrs. Farrer preferred the Flat World Version, answering Tolkien with great entusiasm:

I like the Flat World versions best. The hope of Heaven is the only thing which makes modern astronomy tolerable: otherwise there must be an East and a West and Walls: aims and choices and not an endless circle of wandering.

She even asked to read more about The Silmarillion, and Tolkien "was really very touched by [her] kind letter – and also excited",[1] although it took a long time for answering her, due he could not find some manuscripts to lend her. Thus, Tolkien rejected the Round World version of the Ainulindalë and wrote a new version directly from the version B. As Christopher summarizes:

  • Ainulindalë B, a manuscript from 1930s, lent to Katharine Farrer in 1948 with the 'Flat World Version' written in it.
  • A new version, lost apart from a single torn sheet, written in 1946.
  • Ainulindalë C*, a typescript based on this last text, lent to Katharine Farrer in 1948 with the 'Round World Version' written in it.
  • Ainulindalë C, made from version B and C*, removing innovative elements of version C*.
  • Ainulindalë D, the last clean version, probably made not longer after version C.

Due the peculiarities of version C*, Christopher does not give the texts in chronological order.

Alteration in last revision 1951

Before starting with the Ainulindalë texts, Christopher gives a brief but important document: an isolated list of names headed Alteration in last revision 1951. Here are given definitive Elvish names, such as Eru, Arda, Almaren, among others. Not all of them were newly devised, some of them go back to The Notion Club Papers and The Drowning of Anadûnê. Thus, this list has great value of dating, as the differences with Ainulindalë D show that this last version was written before 1951.[2]:7

Ainulindalë C

The title-page says: "This was written by Rúmil of Túna and was told to Ælfwine in Eressëa (as he records) by Pengoloð the Sage". None of the earlier texts about Ælfwine is said that Pengoloð (Pengolod) instructed him directly, but he is cited as the author of works translated by Ælfwine.[2]:8

The narrative follows closely the previous version during the first paragraphs, but the structure is completely changed with the inclusion of important elements: after the Great Music, Ilúvatar doesn't show the new creation to the Ainur, but a Vision. There they can see the history of the world and the coming of the Children of Ilúvatar, and they wished in their hearts that the world was real like them. Then the Vision is taken away, and Ilúvatar gives Being to the Vision saying "Let these thing Be!". (Notice that the word is still not included). After the entry of the Ainur into the World, the Valar do not simply occupy their realms in nature, but they find the World almost unshaped, so they begin their agelong labours. Thus is formed the dwelling of the Children of Ilúvatar, which Melkor claims for himself. A strife begins between him alone and the Valar, and he withdrews outside Earth. As they had behold in the Vision, the Valar took the shape of the Children of Ilúvatar, and Manwë, Varda, Aulë, Yavanna, Ulmo, Nienna and Melkor were the Seven Great Ones of the Kingdom of Arda. While they worked with other lesser spirits on building the Earth, Melko became envious their beauty, and took a dark form. The First War for the dominion of Arda, in which Melkor tried to destroy all the creations of the Valar. But the Valar endeavoured in despite of him and slowly the Earth was established.

Here ends the Ainulindalë of Rúmil, but Pengoloð continues, as Ælfwine ask him about the Coming of the Valar. Thus, as Christopher explains, the continuation of the narrative is placed as a sort of Appendix.[2]:26 Here is told how the war ends with the coming of Tulkas, who defeats Melkor, the building of the Two Lamps, the dwelling of the Valar in the isle of Almar, the destruction of the Lamps, the foundation of Valinor and Utumno, and how the Valar abandoned Middle-earth. Follows a description of the three main Valar and their relation with the Three Kindreds of the Eldar. The texts ends like the previous version: coming back to Ilúvatar, he makes a declaration about the gifts and nature of his Children.

Christopher highlights one of the mayor conceptual changes: in the early Ambarkanta, the Earth was the same as Ilu ("the world, everything"), but in the Diagram I, Tolkien later changed Ilu with Arda. Therefore, Arda is no longer the 'World globed amid the Void', but it is within 'the World', which is itself 'globed amid the Void'. Thus Arda is chosen by Ilúvatar 'in the midst of the innumerable stars' to the habitation of his Children. This rise great questions about the Walls of the World: while in the early conceptions it was clear they led to the Void, now it is unclear if they are just the limits of Ilmen, but it also explains how the Valar could expel Melko twice from Arda.[2]:28-29

Ainulindalë D

This new version of the Ainulindalë is from a manuscript of "unusual splendour", with illuminated capitals and a beautiful script with Anglo-Saxon typography, which includes medieval abbreviations. It was written probably soon after finishing the Ainulindalë C, as it puts in order many things, clarifying many narrative shapes. Like many other Tolkien's texts, the new version is very similar to the previous one in the beginning, and diverges more and more as it proceeds.[2]:29-30 Therefore, Christopher doesn't includes the first twelve pragraphs, which are identical to version C, and gives the differences with notes between §13 and §31. After §31, the text differs so much that he gives the text in full.

Christopher comments that this text "can only i part be called a new version", as it does not extend, contradict or clarify the 'new cosmology'. There are some points in which there is more coherence with Arda as the realm within the World. But there is a new element: for the creation of the World, Ilúvatar uses the word Ea, which gives name to the Universe. However, in the #Alteration in last revision 1951, Ëa is defined as "Universe of that which Is", and Christopher wonders that probably Ëa cannot only be equivalent to 'the World that Is', but to everything that exists: the World, the Ainur and the Timeless Halls.[2]:37-38

A typescript copy was made, which has no significance, save a couple of notes pencilled on it. In them it is said that the World should be equivalent to Arda, our planet, while the Creation or Universe, should be Ea, What Is. This keeps the previous question about the 'World globed amid the Void', which is not compatible with Arda being within Ea.[2]:39

Ainulindalë C*

As is told above, this typescript was written before finishing The Lord of the Rings and was labelled 'Round World Version' when it was lent to Katharine Farrer in 1948. Like #Ainulindalë C, this version was based on Ainulindalë B, which was labelled 'Flat World Version'.

Christopher only includes fragments of the text, as the notable cosmological and narrative differences only appear in some paragraphs from §23 to the end. Before that, he notices an important detail that will be repeated: in §15, the Valar beheld 'the Halls of Anar', which Tolkien changes to 'the Halls of Aman' in version C. He added a footnote indicating that Anar is the Sun. This cosmic idea is more explicit in §24, in which Manwë calls other spirits against Melkor: "Let us go to the Halls of Anar, where the Sun of the Little World is kindled, and watch that Melkor bring it not all to ruin!". After fighting with the Valar, "Melkor withdrew beyond the arrows of the Sun".

Thereafter, the Valar began their labours in the 'Kingdom of Anar', but the first forests and animals are corrupted by Melkor. Then Tulkas came in aid of the Valar, expelling Melkor again out of the Earth. Then Melkor said: "I will rend the Earth asunder, and break it, and none shall possess it". But Melkor could not do this, so he only could take a portion of the Earth, and seized it for his own out of the Earth, so his little earth wheeled round about in the sky, following and observing everything below. From above Melkor could send forth destruction to the Valar, so they assaulted the stronghold, casting him out and removed it further from the Earth. This old stronghold remains in the sky as Ithil whom Men call the Moon. Thus the words of Ilúvatar became true again, as from the malice of Melkor a great good came for the Earth. Here the Ainulindalë ends abruptly with the final words of Ilúvatar about the destiny of Elves and Men.

In conclusion, the fundamental difference in this 'Round World Version' is that the Sun already exists when the Valar enter into the World. Therefore, the Two Lamps do no exist in this version of the mythology, whence the living things can be corrupted by Melkor before the coming of Tulkas. Christopher explains that here the Sun and Moon are both 'de-mythogised' by removing any association with the Two Trees, which are unknown how would be placed in the following story. But these new ideas where put aside and Christopher mentions The Annals of Aman and Letter 131, in which his father later developed the myth of the creation of the Sun and Moon.[2]:39

See also