Cats of Queen Berúthiel

From Tolkien Gateway
This article describes a concept which is mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but was never given a definite name.
The name Cats refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Cat (disambiguation).
Ten Cats of Queen Berúthiel by Steamey

The cats of Queen Berúthiel were a group of Cats that the Queen to Tarannon Falastur kept as slaves.

History

In the late ninth and possibly early tenth century of the Third Age, Berúthiel, the wife of the twelfth King of Gondor, loathed cats, though they became attracted to her for precisely that reason. They followed her around, and eventually she took advantage of their company by enslaving and torturing them for amusement.[1] Of the Cats that she kept[1] as her slaves: there were ten of them: nine black and one white.[2] Berúthiel trained the cats to go out on evil errands throughout the night to spy on her enemies or to terrify them[1], in order to discover the dark secrets of Gondor, so that she knew the things that men wished the most to keep hidden.[2] She sent the white cat to spy on the black ones to torment them. Berúthiel was able to converse with them or read their memories. Her cats were infamous among the Gondorians. All were afraid of them, did not dare to touch them, and cursed whenever they saw them.[2]

Somehow, the childlessness of Tarannon was associated with Berúthiel's cats, though the way in which the cats had affected Tarannon was unknown.[3][note 1][2]

Eventually, Tarannon exiled Berúthiel and her cats from Gondor and they were set adrift at sea before a north wind on a ship alone that "was last seen flying past Umbar under a sickle moon, with a cat at the masthead and another as a figure-head on the prow"[2] and Berúthiel went back to live in the inland city,[1] likely still with her cats.

Legacy

Despite their erasure from the Book of the Kings, the cats of Queen Berúthiel were so notorious that they were held in the memory of Gondorians for centuries; Aragorn alluded to them more than 2,000 years after Berúthiel's exile.[4]

Other versions of the legendarium

In an earlier version of what would later become the chapter A Journey in the Dark, it was the narrator rather than Aragorn II who mentioned the cats of Queen Berúthiel. This first version of the sentence referred simply to cats in general with no reference to Berúthiel. The second version of the sentence referred to "the cat of Benish Armon," before the reference was changed to "the cats of Queen Tamar," with a few slight revisions regarding Berúthiel's name.[5]

Portrayal in adaptations

: The Lord of the Rings Online:

While the cats of Queen Berúthiel do not make direct appearances, there is a type of enemy that the player faces called Spying Cats. They appear during the undead Tarannon Falastur fight in the Silent Street instance. Should the player attack Tarannon, the cats give off the "Watchful Spies" effect which reflects 50% of the damage back onto the player.

See also

Notes

  1. Christopher Tolkien mentions that the part of the "unique manuscript" that comes before Berúthiel's exile is "almost wholly illegible", meaning that the connection between Tarannon's childlessness and the cats of Queen Berúthiel remains unknown.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Daphne Castell, "The Realms of Tolkien", The Realms of Tolkien (accessed 15 January 2021).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Istari", "Notes", note 7, pp. 401-402
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Introduction", paragraph seven
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Journey in the Dark", p. 311
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The Story Continued: XXV. The Mines of Moria, Notes", p. 454 and p. 464 note 26