|"Destiny" by Elena Kukanova|
|Titles||The Dark Elf|
|Location||Forest of Region, Nan Elmoth, Nogrod, Belegost, Himlad, Arossiach, Ford of Brithiach, Dry River, Orfalch Echor, Dark Gate, Tower of the King, and Caragdûr|
|Birth||Before Y.T. 1497 |
East of the Hithaeglir of Middle-earth
|Death||F.A. 400 (aged 428+)|
|Notable for||Forging of Anglachel and Anguirel|
Being a night-rider
|House||Kin of Thingol|
|Height||Tall, but stooped by smithwork|
|Clothing||Clad in Galvorn whenever he went abroad|
|Weaponry||Anguirel and poisoned javelin|
|Gallery||Images of Eöl|
- "You are of the house of Eöl, Maeglin, my son, and not of the Golodhrim. All this land is the land of the Teleri, and I will not deal nor have my son deal with the slayers of our kin, the invaders and usurpers of our homes. In this you shall obey me, or I will set you in bonds."
- ― Quenta Silmarillion, "Of Maeglin"
Eöl, known as the Dark Elf, was the great smith who dwelled within Nan Elmoth. He was akin to Thingol of the Teleri of the First Age.[note 1] His face was noble yet grim, "and his eyes could see deep into shadows and dark places", being night-sighted. Eöl built up a friendship with the Dwarves of the Blue Mountains. That friendship gave him an insight into their craft, and he came to forge the swords Anguirel and Anglachel, the latter of which became Túrin's sword Gurthang.
In F.A. 316, Turgon's sister, Aredhel, strayed into his kingdom whom he took for his wife. Later, in F.A. 400, Aredhel and their son Maeglin fled Nan Elmoth for Gondolin but were pursued by Eöl. In Gondolin, he tried to kill Maeglin with a poisoned javelin, but instead killed Aredhel; for this crime he was executed by being thrown from the cliff of Caragdûr. The darkness in Eöl's heart was inherited by his son Maeglin and sowed the seeds for the Fall of Gondolin.
Eöl was of the kin of King Elu Thingol. He was "restless and ill at ease in Doriath", and when the Girdle of Melian was raised around the kingdom, he left his dwelling in the Forest of Region to dwell in the dark forest of Nan Elmoth, east of Doriath, where he had a smithy, dim halls, and servants similar to himself. Eöl's house was located in the middle of Nan Elmoth around fifteen miles from the northernmost edge where the Celon River ran. He had a preference for the land as it had been, before the Sun, and "he loved the night and twilight under the stars". He had little love for the Noldor whom he blamed for the return of Morgoth.
He was unique among the Elves of old in that he had befriended the Dwarves. Their travels into East Beleriand followed two roads, and the northern way would bring them close to Nan Elmoth. There he would meet with them. Eöl was interested in learning from them, and he shared a rare friendship with the Dwarves of the Blue Mountains. As a guest in the many mansions of Nogrod and Belegost, he developed his great skill in metalwork while they learned "much of what passed in the lands of the Eldar" from him. From this great skill, he devised Galvorn, a jet-black metal that was "as hard as the steel of the Dwarves", yet extremely malleable to the point that it was thin and supple. It was from this metal that he forged armor of his own making which he wore whenever he went abroad from Nan Elmoth, "and so escaped many wounds" as the armor proved to be resistant to all darts and blades.
Though Eöl was a skilled craftsman and a master sword-smith, among his greatest works were the two swords made from the iron of a meteorite, Anglachel and Anguirel. Anglachel he gave to Thingol as a begrudged payment for dwelling in Nan Elmoth, and it would later become the sword borne by Beleg, and after him, Túrin Turambar.
Aredhel and Maeglin
During the year F.A. 316 of the First Age, Eöl saw Aredhel, the sister of Turgon the King of Gondolin, near the dim borders of Nan Elmoth. She was very fair and he desired her. Aredhel had become separated from her companions, and Eöl used his enchantments to draw her deeper into the woods and unable to find a way out, until she came, weary with wandering, to his home. He showed himself and welcomed her. She entered his home willingly and stayed. It was only then that he showed himself, to lead her into his home, taking her to wife, though Aredhel was not wholly unwilling . While Eöl forbade her to seek her Noldor kin and commanded that she shunned sunlight, "they wandered far together under the stars or by the light of the sickle moon", and he allowed her to even wander alone within the forest.
During the year F.A. 320 of the First Age, Aredhel bore him a son whom in her heart she named Lómion in the forbidden tongue of the Noldor. Twelve years later, Eöl gave to his son the name of Maeglin, perceiving that his son's eyes were more piercing than his own.
When Maeglin reached adulthood, Eöl often took him along whenever he visited "the cities of the Dwarves in the east of Ered Lindon". Yet, unknown to Eöl, he loved his mother better as she told him tales of her kin, yet omitting how to get to them. When Maeglin told Eöl that he desired to see his mother's kin with his own eyes and speak to the sons of Fëanor, Eöl forbade his request and became wrathful at the mere mention of the kinslayers, drilling into Maeglin that he was of the "house of Eöl" and threatening to set him in bonds should he disobey him. Though Maeglin obeyed the commands, the damage to their relationship was done, for now Eöl mistrusted him enough so much so that he no longer took him with him beyond Ered Lindon.
During the summer of the year F.A. 400, the Dwarves, as per their custom, invited Eöl to a midsummer feast at Nogrod, and he rode straight away to Ered Lindon in order to be on time to attend. However, he suspected that in his absence, his wife and son may seek to visit the sons of Fëanor. As such, "he secretly ordered his servants to keep a close watch on his wife and son" and he posted a watchman by the stream of Celon at the north-eaves of Nan Elmoth.
During the first night of the three day feast, "a dark shadow of ill foreboding" came to Eöl in his sleep. As a consequence, he left Nogrod the next morning without ceremony, riding homeward with all speed. He returned home at nightfall of the next day, learning from his watchman that his wife and son had fled north less than two days earlier, passing into the Himlad towards the Pass of Aglon. Staying at his home only to mount a fresh horse, his swiftest steed, his wrath overcame him and he chased after them immediately.
Eöl regained control of his wrath as he entered into the Himlad, remembering the danger of Celegorm and Curufin. However, he was waylaid by the well-armed riders of Curufin before making it even halfway across the Himlad. The riders took Eöl by force with them to see their lord Curufin. It was around noon that day when the riders arrived at Curufin's camp where, with only a little courtesy, Eöl was greeted by Curufin. When the son of Fëanor questioned him, Eöl told him that Aredhel and Maeglin left Nan Elmoth to visit him and that he wished to join them in that errand. While Curufin told Eöl that they would have been welcomed coldly if he did accompany them, Curufin revealed that they never intended to visit him, and that they were seen passing the Arossiach riding swiftly westward almost two days before. Curufin suggested then that either Eöl was trying to deceive him or that he himself had been deceived. After asking Curufin for his leave to depart the Himlad and to seek for the truth. Eöl thanked him, regarding him as kin by marriage. Curufin took offense to this since Aredhel's marriage was forced and he wished to have Eöl out of his sight ad he could not slay him according to the laws of the Eldar.[note 2] Yet despite this anger, Curufin instead counseled Eöl to return home, foreseeing that if Eöl continued his pursuit after those who do not love him anymore, he would never return to Nan Elmoth again. Eöl did not heed him as the hatred of all the Noldor drove him on pass the Arossiach, and he perceived then that his wife and son were fleeing to Gondolin, realizing that Curufin's purpose was to specifically delay him.
Upon reaching the Ford of Brithiach, Eöl spotted his wife and son due to the betrayal of their horses. Now seeing Aredhel Eöl followed them closely, marking their paths. Eventually, Eöl found his way to the Dry River, and the secret way led him by stealth through the Orfalch Echor and the Seven Gates of Gondolin itself. There, Eöl revealed himself to the Dark Guard at the Dark Gate and claimed Aredhel as his wife, demanding to be brought before the King.
Gondolin and death
At Aredhel's request, Turgon at first welcomed Eöl as a kinsman, but under the King's law, one who had found the way to the Hidden City was not permitted to leave. Eöl refused to acknowledge the law or the right of the Noldor to "seize realms or to set bounds" and claimed the land as Teleri. He blamed the Noldor for bringing war to a peaceful land. He then stated that he was only in Gondolin to claim his son, though he did not claim his wife since Aredhel was just as much Turgon's sister as she was Eöl's wife. However, it is possible that because he mentioned he referred to Gondolin as a cage that Aredhel sickened in, that he was hoping that Aredhel may leave Gondolin again a second time eventually.
Turgon pointed out that the borders of Eöl's own "sunless woods", Nan Elmoth, were defended by Noldor swords, and if it were not for their presence, he would be a thrall in the pits of Angband. Eöl was left with one choice only: abide in Gondolin or die in Gondolin. The same choice was left for his son.
Enraged at the humiliation and the loss of his freedom, Eöl chose death, for himself and for his son, and after staring down Turgon, he cast a javelin, which he had hidden beneath his cloak, at Maeglin. Aredhel stepped in front of her son, and she was struck in the shoulder. Eöl Was taken by many, cast in bonds, and led away. The wound was treated and seemed minor, and Aredhel and Idril moved Turgon to mercy. Yet no one knew the point of the javelin had been poisoned until it was too late, and after Aredhel's wound sickened in the evening, she died that night. Thus when Eöl came before Turgon he found no mercy, and was cast over the cliff of Caragdûr to his death. Before he was hurled over, he accused his son of forsaking his father and his kin, cursing him to fail at all his hopes and to share the same death as himself.
The meaning of the name Eöl is unknown, and also to which language it pertains. The word is neither Quenya nor Sindarin, but "Another name from prim[itive] FG - meaningless then and now" since "it isn't really absolutely necessary that names should be significant".
Usually the reference of a Dark Elf (Moredhel in Sindarin) simply refers to an Elf who has not seen the light of Aman, but the concept of a darkened Elf would be one that may have been corrupted by Morgoth. Tolkien liked this concept as an explanation for his superb and insidious smith-craft, which was written in a margin note of Eöl's story,:320 but he chose instead to consider him more likely acquainted with the Dwarves.:Note 9
Other versions of the legendarium
Tolkien does have other renditions of this character that include references to him as an Avar and even as a "darkened Elf".:62 At one point it is hinted that he could be one of the Laegil.:322 In note 9 of Tolkien's essay "Quendi and Eldar", another draft of Eöl's story appears, dated as written between 1959-1960. In this version, he is an Avar who had once been of the second clan of Elves, the Tatyar. This was later contradicted by Tolkien in a very late essay, where he is called an Elda. It is unknown if Tolkien changed this or simply forgot, but it is possible to reconcile them by noting that, according to Quendi and Eldar, any rare Avar that joins the Sindar becomes an Elda. Eöl's marriage is a little different in this story as well. He found "the sister of King Turgon, astray in the wild near his dwelling, and he took her to wife by force: a very wicked deed in the eyes of the Eldar".:409
However, that incident contradicts his late 1950s writing on the Eldar included in his essay "Laws and Customs Among the Eldar" which states that another's spouse cannot be forced.:Note 5 It clearly implies that acts of lust are very rare and that an Elf can reject bodily life to thwart sexual assault. This conflict of what it meant when Eöl took Aredhel to wife is ameliorated in The Silmarillion with the simple explanation that Aredhel was not "wholly unwilling" nor that her life in Nan Elmoth was "hateful to her for many years".
This essay on the Eldar also clarifies the idea that once Idril married Tuor, for example, Maeglin should have relinquished his desire for her because he could not physically have her regardless of Morgoth's promise. However, by this point, Maeglin was a darkened Elf. It also is exemplified in another brief tale circa 1958 of Melkor attempting to marry and then ravish the Maia-maiden Arien, but she released her spirit.:381 Among the Eldar, and apparently among the Ainur, marriage could not be forced as it was among some Men (see Aerin).
In a 1959 essay, Tolkien radically altered the metaphysics of Middle-earth. One of these changes involved changing Eöl from a Teleri Elf to a Noldor Elf who was born in Aman. Though he was a Noldor, he was among a select few who were Avari at heart, yet joined the exiles because his people did.[note 3]:Note 4 Tolkien could not decide if Eöl already knew Isfin before the Noldor went to Aman and persuaded her to remain with him in Beleriand, or if she also decided not to go to Aman at the last minute and wandered alone in Beleriand. Tolkien, however, quickly decides that this was impossible since Isfin was born in Aman. Tolkien also decided in that moment that Maeglin also needed to be born in Aman and that all three of them: Eöl, Isfin, and Maeglin were all extremely attracted to Melkor's lies, growing to dislike their kin and Aman, joining Fëanor's host, and becoming estranged from all of their immediate kin.:76, 81
- Christopher Tolkien mentions that his father elaborated further on this kinship in that "Eöl should not be one of Thingol's kin, but one of the Teleri who refused to cross the Hithaeglir. But [later] he and a few others of like mood, averse to concourse of people, … [had] crossed the [Mts] long ago and come to Beleriand". Despite this statement, a small note was written against it in 1971 saying that "the relationship to Thingol would have point". It might be possible that the "few others of like mood" became the servants of his house, as they were described as being "silent and secret as their master".
- Christopher Tolkien mentions that his father added a footnote to Curufin's line, explaining that "the Eldar (which included the Sindar) were forbidden to slay one another in revenge for any grievance however great. Also at this time Eöl had ridden towards Aglon with no ill intent, and it was not unjust that he should seek news of Aredel and Maeglin".
- Subsequently, Tolkien cryptically inserted next to this a vertical line, a check-mark, and a note saying "Keep this".
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Maeglin"
- 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"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Four. Quendi and Eldar: Editorial Notes [to Quendi and Eldar]", Note 33
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Four. Quendi and Eldar: Editorial Notes [to Quendi and Eldar]", Note 33
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Four. Quendi and Eldar"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Túrin Turambar"
- J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 297, (dated August 1967)
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Three. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: (II) The Second Phase: Laws and Customs among the Eldar"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Five. Myths Transformed"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part One. Time and Ageing: XI. Ageing of Elves"