|"Aredhel the White" by Ted Nasmith|
|Other names||Írissë (Q; fn), Íreth (S)|
Ar-Feiniel, "White Lady of the Noldor"
|Birth||Y.T. 1362 |
|Death||F.A. 400 (aged c. 1,722 years[note 1])|
|House||House of Fingolfin|
|Parentage||Fingolfin and Anairë|
|Clothing||Silver and white|
|Gallery||Images of Aredhel|
Aredhel, also called Ar-Feiniel or the White Lady of the Noldor, was the third child and only daughter of Fingolfin, High King of the Noldor, and Anairë who herself was also a Noldo. Her elder brothers were Fingon and Turgon, and her youngest brother was Argon. Much later in Beleriand, she became the mother of Maeglin, whose father was Eöl, "the Dark Elf".
Aredhel was tall and strong, fond of hunting and riding in the forests. Her skin was pale and her hair dark; she always wore silver and white. She was fond of the sons of Fëanor, especially Celegorm and Curufin.
History[edit | edit source]
When she had grown to full stature she was greater and stronger than typical Elf women, and she loved to ride on horse and to hunt in the forests. She was often in the company of the sons of Fëanor.
In the flight of the Noldor from Aman, she followed her father Fingolfin and her brothers over the Helcaraxë to Middle Earth. But Aredhel's mother Anairë did not go, even though all of her children were going with her husband Fingolfin.
After arriving in Middle-earth, she dwelt for a time in Nevrast where her brother Turgon established the city of Vinyamar. Later, when Turgon built the hidden city of Gondolin, Aredhel went with her brother and his daughter, Idril, to dwell thereafter in Gondolin. After two hundred years, the longing for the forests and wide lands overcame her and she asked her brother, now King Turgon of Gondolin, for permission to leave. Nevertheless, Turgon was unwilling at first, because he feared for her safety and for the secrecy of his kingdom. He eventually relented, giving her a small escort of lords among his people for protection.
Ignoring her brother's plea that she would only go to see their eldest brother Fingon, she decided instead to meet the Sons of Fëanor again. They sought passage through Doriath, but were denied because they were of the Noldor. Aredhel and her companions were then forced to go northward through the treacherous region of Nan Dungortheb north of Doriath, where they were separated being entangled in the dark shadows. Notwithstanding, Aredhel continued alone onward to Himlad, the land of the Noldorin Elf-lords Celegorm and Curufin where they lived and upon reaching Himlad she only found them away in Thargelion.
Aredhel dwelt in Himlad with the people of Celegorm who welcomed her while she waited for Celegorm and Curufin to return. But after awhile, she got tired of waiting for them, and began taking trips of her own to pass the time. It was on one such trip that Aredhel wandered into the dark forest of Nan Elmoth.
Eöl the Dark Elf lived there, and upon seeing Aredhel's beauty, wove a spell which caused her to become hopelessly lost and wander ever closer to his home. Eöl revealed himself when she arrived, and welcomed her to his house. They married and had a son named Maeglin. During this time, Aredhel was free to go where she pleased, with the sole restriction that she couldn't visit any of her kin. Her homesickness led her to tell Maeglin many stories about Gondolin and the Noldor, which only increased her longing for home. Thus, when Maeglin proposed that they abandon Nan Elmoth and return to Gondolin, she responded with pride and joy.
Waiting until Eöl was away, the two fled from Nan Elmoth for Gondolin, but were unknowingly tracked by Eöl, who had discovered their disappearance earlier than expected. Aredhel and Maeglin were received with joy in Gondolin, but the guards quickly caught Eöl and brought him to the King on Aredhel's bidding. Turgon was initially willing to spare Eöl and accept him as a kinsman if he remained in Gondolin, but Eöl would not accept this judgement and chose death for himself and Maeglin. He threw a javelin at his son, but Aredhel shielded Maeglin and was wounded. While she lay resting, she spoke to her niece Idril and begged her to ensure Turgon showed mercy to Eöl. This was not to be, as the weapon Eöl used had been poisoned. Aredhel died shortly after making this final plea, leaving the city and its King bereaved once more.
Etymology[edit | edit source]
Aredhel's Quenya name in Valinor was Írissë correctly rendered in Sindarin as Íreth; Its second element is the feminine suffix -issë simply replaced with its Sindarin equivalent -eth. Paul Strack suggests that her name's initial element seems to be írë "desire" possibly meaning "Desirable Lady".
Genealogy[edit | edit source]
Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]
The names Aredhel and Ar-Feiniel ("noble white lady") were both originally intended to stand alone, and be used as the main name of Irissë. While preparing The Silmarillion for publication, Christopher Tolkien could not discover which name was intended to be used as her final name, and he therefore chose to use both names: a decision he later stated was possibly mistaken.:318
While composing the chapter about Maeglin, Tolkien considered Ecthelion, Glorfindel and Egalmoth as the escort of Aredhel in her way to visit Fingon.:318 However, in the published Silmarillion, Christopher didn't mention any of the escorts of Aredhel, based on a note in which his father considers the motives of Celegorm and Curufin in not sending any message to Gondolin about Aredhel. Tolkien decided that it was necessary not to name the most eminent and bravest chieftains as Aredhel's escort, as they would have sought for her beyond the Bridge of Esgalduin.:328
In The Nature of Middle-earth, while contemplating the age and origin of Maeglin, one consideration was for Maeglin to be born in Aman with his sinister character being "accounted for by the fact that he (and his mother and father) were specially attracted by Melkor, and grew to dislike Aman, and their kin. They joined the host of Fëanor (this would explain Eöl’s skill in smith-craft!) and were estranged from their immediate kin."
- Years of the Sun. Each Year of the Trees is equal to 9.582 Years of the Sun, and the Years of the Trees ended in the year 1500.
- Argon only appears in very late writings by Tolkien as published in The History of Middle-earth, and is left out of the published Silmarillion.
- combination of ist “knowledge” and phinya “skill”
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Two. The Annals of Aman", p. 102, notes 8 and 9
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Three. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: (I) The First Phase: 5. Of Eldanor and the Princes of the Eldalië", §42
- J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 139
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XI. The Shibboleth of Fëanor", p. 345
- Paul Strack, "Q. Írissë f.", Eldamo - An Elvish Lexicon (accessed 13 October 2023)
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Three. The Wanderings of Húrin and Other Writings not forming part of the Quenta Silmarillion: III. Maeglin"
- cf. Indexes of The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, The Shaping of Middle-earth and The Lost Road and Other Writings
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part One. Time and Ageing: XI. Ageing of Elves", pg. 80