Argonath

From Tolkien Gateway
The Argonath
Statues/Monuments
"The Argonath" by John Howe
General Information
Other namesArgonad (Sindarin)
Pillars of the Kings, Gates of Argonath, Gates of the Kings, Gates of Gondor
LocationNorthern end of Nen Hithoel, both sides of Anduin
TypeStatues/Monuments
DescriptionGigantic figures of Isildur and Anárion
History
CreatedSoon after T.A. 1248
GalleryImages of the Argonath

The Argonath, also known as the Pillars of the Kings,[1] or the Gate of Kings[2][3] was a landmark on the northern edge of Gondor.

Description

The Argonath consisted of two enormous rock pillars, carved in the likenesses of Isildur and Anárion facing to the north. Placed upon huge pedestals, each of the two figures held an axe in its right hand and its left hand rose in a gesture of defiance to the enemies of Gondor. The two statues stood upon either side of the River Anduin.[1] A narrow gap between them[1] led to a long dark chasm with high sheer cliffs which led to the lake Nen Hithoel.[4]

History

When the Easterlings attacked Northmen that settled south of Greenwood the Great, Minalcar, the nephew of King Narmacil I and Regent of Gondor, led a great army that defeated the Easterlings between Rhovanion and the Sea of Rhûn in T.A. 1248. When he returned he fortified the eastern banks of the Anduin and built the pillars of the Argonath.[5]

At the time of the War of the Ring the Argonath and the Emyn Muil with Amon Hen with its Seat of Seeing and Amon Lhaw, the Hill of Hearing were still a part of Gondor,[6][7] but the area was deserted.

On 25 February T.A. 3019,[8] the Fellowship of the Ring rowed down the river Anduin between the Pillars of the Kings on their journey south. Time had blurred their eyes and crannied their brows but the two figures still exuded power and majesty.[1]

Etymology

Argonath is a Sindarin name, which means "royal stones",[9] "pair of royal stones"[10] or "the group of (two) noble stones".[11] It is a compound of Ar(a) (a prefix expressing royalty) and the shorter form gon ("stone" used for smaller objects made of stone, especially carved figures) of gond and -ath (a collective or group plural, because the Argonath were a pair of statues).[9] A valid variant of the name in dual form was Argonad.[11]

Other versions of the legendarium

In pencilled notes for what would later become the chapter "The Great River", J.R.R. Tolkien first used the name Sern Erain and then the name Sarn Aran, which he translated as "King Stones".[12]

Portrayal in adaptations

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

The Argonath comprises two large and highly detailed models which were combined with live action footage and digital backgrounds to convey the proper sense of scale. Also seen in the movie is the quarry near one of the statues' feet, which the filmmakers reasoned would be necessary to provide stone blocks for the construction of the statues' uppermost sections.
Note that in the film, the statues are of Isildur and Elendil (as almost all references to Anárion were cut from the films [note 1]) and the statue of Elendil is holding Narsil rather than an axe.

Notes

  1. Only in the extended version of The Return of the King film, Denethor says the line "I am steward of the House of Anárion. Thus have I walked; and thus now will I sleep."

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Great River", p. 392
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Departure of Boromir", p. 418
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Muster of Rohan", p. 799
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Great River", p. 393
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", entry for Minalcar (Rómendacil), p. 1046
  6. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, citing from a letter by J.R.R. Tolkien to Milton Waldman from late 1951: "They pass the water-gate into the old realm of Gondor", p. 745
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", "(iii) Cirion and Eorl", "The bounds of the realm of Eorl were to be: [...] the Anduin and the west-cliff of the Emyn Muil down to the marshes of the mouths of Onodló"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", entry for the year 3019, February 25, p. 1092
  9. 9.0 9.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, entry Argonath, p. 347
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Notes and Translations", in The Road Goes Ever On (J.R.R. Tolkien, Donald Swann), p. 67
  11. 11.0 11.1 J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 347, (dated 17 December 1972), p. 427, answer to question 5. Aragorn, ath:
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Ring, "Part Two: The Ring Goes East", "I. The Taming of Sméagol", note 5 (4), p. 98