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From Tolkien Gateway
(Redirected from Luthien)
"Lúthien" by Aerankai
Biographical Information
Pronunciationˈluːθjen tiˈnuːvjel
Other namesTinúviel (S)
Tindómerel (Q)
TitlesPrincess of Doriath
Lady of Tol Galen
Tol Galen
AffiliationQuest for the Silmaril
BirthY.T. 1200
Forest of Neldoreth
DeathF.A. 467 (aged c. 3,341[note 1])
Returned to life, final death: F.A. 503 (aged c. 3,377)
Dor Firn-i-Guinar
Notable forAiding Beren to retrieve a Silmaril from Morgoth's Crown
Being granted the Gift of Ilúvatar
ParentageThingol (Elf) and Melian (Ainu)
SiblingsTúrin (foster-brother)
Physical Description
Hair colorBlack
Eye colorGrey[1]
ClothingBlue raiment, sewn with golden flowers; shadowy cloak; appearance of Thuringwethil[1]
WeaponryVoice, enchantment
GalleryImages of Lúthien

Her robe was blue as summer skies,
but grey as evening were her eyes;
'twas sewn with golden lilies fair,
but dark as shadow was her hair.

Lúthien Tinúviel was the only daughter of King Thingol of Doriath and Melian the Maia. She was said to be the fairest maiden amongst all the Children of Ilúvatar to have ever lived, a beauty that would appear again only millennia later on Arwen. She wedded Beren, a Man, with whom she shared the fate of mortality.


Birth of Luthien by Alice Falto

Lúthien was born during the Years of the Trees of the First Age, at the end of the first age of the Chaining of Melkor. She was born in the Forest of Neldoreth under the stars, and niphredil first grew at the moment of her birth.[2]

She would often dance in the woods, while her friend Daeron, the minstrel of Thingol, would play his flute. Daeron came to love her, and while she enjoyed his company, she did not return his love.[1]

Quest for the Silmaril

During such an occasion she was discovered by Beren as he wandered the woods of her father's kingdom, and instantly fell in love with her. Daeron chirped out a warning, and she hid. While he searched for her, he accidentally laid his hand on her arm. He caught her alone some months later, and they grew to love one another. When Lúthien took Beren before her father, he was appalled that his royal daughter should wish to wed a mortal, and as is recounted in the Lay of Leithian so set Beren what he thought was an unachievable task, to recover a Silmaril from the Iron Crown of Morgoth himself. So Beren left Doriath in pursuit of his hopeless quest.

Encounter of Beren and Luthien by Elena Kukanova

After a time, a darkness fell on Lúthien's heart, and she learned from her mother Melian what this meant; Beren had been captured by Sauron, and was held in the dungeons of Tol-in-Gaurhoth. Though Thingol sought to stop her, Lúthien set out from Doriath to rescue Beren, if she could. Passing through many adventures, she gained the help of Huan the Hound, and together they came to Sauron's Isle. She nearly fell to the force of Sauron's hatred alone, but through her magic and Huan's strength they defeated Sauron and rescued Beren. Eventually Beren set out for Angband once again, but this time Lúthien accompanied him.

Fluttering before his eyes, she wound a mazy-wingéd dance by Alan Lee

Through Lúthien's powers, they passed the gates of Angband, and the great wolf Carcharoth that guarded them. Coming before the Dark Throne itself, Morgoth prepared to have both of them captured and killed, but Lúthien wove a spell and conducted a dance that put even Morgoth and his court into a deep sleep, and Beren cut a Silmaril from the Iron Crown. Returning to the gates, they found that Carcharoth barred their escape. Lúthien had been drained of her strength after putting the slumber over Angband and could not fight against the werewolf. Beren held up the hallowed jewel to protect them, but the monstrous wolf bit off his hand and, with it, consumed the Silmaril. But the Silmarils were blessed by Varda herself, so that any unclean flesh that touched them would be withered and burnt. The wolf's innards were consumed with that burning, and it ran howling into the south. Before the servants of Morgoth awakening beneath the mountains could pursue them, three Great Eagles came to the aid of Beren and Lúthien, bearing them away from Thangorodrim.

Lúthien healed Beren, and they came at last back to her father's halls at Menegroth. There they heard tidings that the maddened wolf had entered Thingol's realm, and Beren set out with the King to the Hunting of the Wolf. After nightfall they returned; the wolf was slain and the Silmaril recovered, but Beren and Huan both were wounded mortally. Both passed away shortly after returning, and soon after Lúthien too wasted of grief.[1]

Aftermath and death

The Death by Tuuliky

Their spirits were gathered in the Halls of Mandos in the Uttermost West, and there Lúthien sang a song of such extraordinary power and beauty that it moved even the implacable heart of Mandos himself. So she was granted a unique fate, to become mortal and return to Middle-earth with Beren, where they dwelt for a time in happiness on the green island of Tol Galen in the River Adurant.[1] The lands surrounding the isle were later known as Dor Firn-i-Guinar, "Land of the Dead that Live".[3]

After the destruction of Doriath Beren participated in battle for the last time. He ambushed the routed dwarves, and in the process also acquired the Silmaril he once took from Morgoth's crown. He brought the Silmaril, which was inside the Nauglamir, to Lúthien, and she wore it until the day she and Beren died of old age. It is said that their deaths came quicker than expected because of the Silmaril. After their death, the Silmaril was passed to their son Dior, which caused the Second Kinslaying.[4]

Final death

Among the Children of Ilúvatar the final death of Beren and Lúthien is accounted in F.A. 503 for in that year Dior received the Silmaril in Doriath, and it was taken as a sign of his parents' death.[5] In truth the date of their death is unknown, for none saw them leave the world or marked where their bodies lay.[6]


Lúthien is a Sindarin name meaning "Daughter of Flowers". The first element in the name is lúth ("blossom, inflorescence").[7] The second element is the feminine suffix -ien ("daughter").

In early writings, Doriathrin Luthien and Noldorin Lhūthien meant "enchantress", deriving from Primitive Quendian luktiēnē ("enchantress"; from root LUK "magic, enhantement").[8]

Tinúviel (from Primitive Quendian tindōmiselde) means "Nightingale", or, more literally, "Daughter of Twilight".[9][10]


Elu Thingol
House of Bëor


Lúthien was largely inspired from Edith Bratt and when she died, Tolkien asked his son Christopher to include Lúthien in her gravestone, as he considered her "my Lúthien."[11]

I never called Edith 'Lúthien' – but she was the source of the story that in time became the chief pan of the Silmarillion. It was first conceived in a small woodland glade filled with hemlocks at Roos in Yorkshire (where I was for a brief time in command of an outpost of the Humber Garrison in 1917, and she was able to live with me for a while). In those days her hair was raven, her skin clear, her eyes brighter than you have seen them, and she could sing – and dance. But the story has gone crooked, & I am left, and I cannot plead before the inexorable Mandos.

The tale also shares the common element of folktales with the disapproving parent who sets a seemingly impossible task for the suitor, which is then fulfilled. The Welsh tale of Culhwch and Olwen is one such story.

The travel of Lúthien to Mandos and softening Námo with her song, in order to release her beloved, is a usual theme in mythology and religion: the Greek tale (as told by Ovid) of Orpheus and Eurydice (see also the poem Sir Orpheo, a medieval retale), the Japanese myth of Izanagi and Izanami, the Akkadian version of the Sumerian myth of Inanna's descent to the Underworld, the Mayan myth of Ix Chel and Itzamna or the Indian legend of Savitri and Satyavan.

Other versions of the legendarium

Tevildo and Tinúviel by Alan Lee.

When the story of her love with Beren first appeared in the Lost Tales, Tinúviel was her birth name and Dairon was her brother.[12] The idea that the name Tinúviel was given to her by Beren emerged in the early Lays of Beleriand, along with her birth name Lúthien (although at first Tolkien tentatively gave her the birth name of Melilot).[13]

In a crossed out note, her brother was Timpinen and the two "returned to the Eldar" while their father never did.[14]

In some of the earlier writings, the story of Beren and Tinúviel was slightly different. Instead of encountering Sauron on Tol Sirion, Tinúviel rescued her lover from the hands of Tevildo, Prince of Cats. Tevildo, however, was written out of the plot, and replaced with Sauron.[15]

Before this name was assigned to the elf-maid, the name Lúthien was connected with Luthany, the Elfin name for England.[16]:313 In several very early drafts of unfinished stories, Lúthien was the Elfin name of Ælfwine, translated first as "wanderer" and later as "friend".[16]:301–304

See also


  1. 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.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Beren and Lúthien"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part One. The Grey Annals": §17
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Doriath"
  5. 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: V. The Tale of Years", p. 351. Cf. Quenta Silmarillion, "Of the Ruin of Doriath"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Two: Valinor and Middle-earth before The Lord of the Rings, VI. Quenta Silmarillion", pp. 305-306
  7. 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. 15
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entry "LUK"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entry "SEL-D"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Quenya Phonology", in Parma Eldalamberon XIX (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 73
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 340, (dated 11 July 1972), p. 420
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "I. The Tale of Tinúviel", p. 41
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lays of Beleriand, "III. The Lay of Leithian", pp. 159, 179-180
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, "IV. The Chaining of Melko": "Notes and Commentary", note 1
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Beren and Lúthien, "The Quenta Noldorinwa", pp. 57-68
  16. 16.0 16.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "VI. The History of Eriol or Ælfwine and the End of the Tales"