The History of the Akallabêth

From Tolkien Gateway
The Peoples of Middle-earth
  1. The Prologue
  2. The Appendix on Languages
  3. The Family Trees
  4. The Calendars
  5. The History of the Akallabêth
  6. The Tale of Years of the Second Age
  7. The Heirs of Elendil
  8. The Tale of Years of the Third Age
  9. The Making of Appendix A
  10. Of Dwarves and Men
  11. The Shibboleth of Fëanor
  12. The Problem of Ros
  13. Last Writings
  14. Dangweth Pengoloð
  15. Of Lembas
  16. The New Shadow
  17. Tal-Elmar

The History of the Akallabêth is the fifth chapter from the The Peoples of Middle-earth volume, part of The History of Middle-earth series. Whereas the other nine chapters of Part One of this book describe the histories of writing of The Prologue and the Appendices to The Lord of the Rings, this one chapter details how this section of The Silmarillion came into being. Christopher Tolkien justified this arrangement by noting that the Tale of Years for the Second Age was clearly linked to the evolution of the history of Númenor and its downfall.[1]:140

Earlier versions of the Akallabêth had been discussed in previous parts of the History of Middle-earth series but how the version used in the Silmarillion developed had not been revealed. While the final Akallabêth post-dated the writing of The Lord of the Rings, Christopher stated that in Sauron Defeated he mistakenly ascribed the writing of this text to the mid-1960s. The line of Númenórean kings in Appendix A showed that the development of the Akallabêth came much earlier.[1]:140-141

Christopher identified the texts in the stages of the writing of this work as follows: The earliest was a clear manuscript of twenty-three pages, which he called text 'A'. J.R.R. Tolkien made many corrections to the first part of A (but few to the account of the Downfall) and this became text 'B'. Christopher felt that B followed closely upon A, then B was left alone for a while before Tolkien emended it and greatly extending the history of Númenor. A final text, 'C', was made from B when all the alterations were complete, and Christopher dated this version to 1958. To indicate the version of B with it many alterations Christopher designated this text as 'B2'. However, Christopher stressed that much of the Akallabêth stayed the same from the first writings. In recognition of this fact, the entire Akallabêth from The Silmarillion was not reproduced; instead Christopher referenced selected paragraphs from that work to describe alterations from version A.[1]:141-142

Points of interest[edit | edit source]

  • In text A the story was addressed to Ælfwine of England by Pengolodh the Wise. This "framing structure" was a feature of the early texts of Tolkien's legendarium that was dropped.
  • Vingilot was the name of Eärendil's ship in texts A and B. Tolkien changed it to Eälótë in B2. This name was not used elsewhere so in The Silmarillion Christopher reverted to Vingilot.
  • In texts A and B, it was Fionwë, the son of Manwë, who overthrew Morgoth. In B2 Fionwë was replaced by Eönwë, the herald of Manwë, and in the published Silmarillion the reference to either name was removed. Christopher believed that his father had diminished the once-important role of the children of the Valar and thus removed all references to them. However, Christopher later felt the omission may have been an error on his part.[1]:143
  • Contrary to some legends of the founding of Númenor, the Edain did not sail at one time and in one fleet. First Elros led a small expedition to the island. This was followed by small fleets or even single ships, all of which were built according to Elvish models and all were piloted by one of the Eldar selected by Círdan. When Elros actually moved to Númenor his fleet numbered from one hundred and fifty to two or three hundred ships (holding between five thousand up to ten thousand people). The migration took at least fifty years until Círdan, instructed by the Valar, stopped providing ships and guides.[1]:144-145
  • The Eldarin name of the capital, Armenelos, was originally Tar Kalimos. In the Númenórean tongue the name of the city was Arminalêth.[1]:145
  • The central mountain in Númenor was first named Menelmin. This changed to Menelmindon, Menelmindo, and Menelminda in various works but finally settled upon Meneltarma, which was used in the later part of text A.[1]:146
  • In an isolated page Tolkien set out a brief calculation of the death of the kings of Númenor. Elros was the first but not numbered in the line of kings. The last king was Tarkalion or Arpharazôn, who was numbered as the thirteenth.[1]:150-151
  • Christopher noted that in an original draft for text A the Númenóreans had conceived of a land of shades where the dead existed and that those that died should come bearing shadows of their possessions. This observation was not included in the finished text A or in any subsequent versions.[1]:152
  • In texts A and B, Ar-Pharazôn's ship was named Aglarrâma. In B2 it was renamed Alkarondas.[1]:156

Concerning the Marriage of Míriel and Pharazôn[edit | edit source]

Tolkien did a lot of work on their story. Attached to text B was a long rider that led to text B2, and inserted into this rider were sheets concerning Míriel and Pharazôn. In order to clarify the discussion of these pieces Christopher laid out the genealogy of the end of the royal houses of Númenor, noting in particular that Amandil originally had a brother Elentir who appears in no other place. Christopher then discusses four inserted pages related to the marriage. [4]

In the first, designated (a), Ar-Pharazôn was of great beauty and strength, but was corrupted by his father's counsels and the people's acclaim. Míriel was loved by Elentir but she became enraptured by Pharazôn. After her father's death Míriel married Pharazôn and yielded the sceptre to him.[5]

In the page designated (b), a very rough document, Míriel was still enamoured of Pharazôn, but this occurred while she was betrothed to Elentir.[6]

In page (c) Míriel loved Elentir and was soon to be betrothed to him. This text was abandoned before Pharazôn's role was described.[7]

In page (d) Míriel's love of Pharazôn is missing. Considering the four pages Christopher believed that his father had begun to doubt that the marriage had been against Míriel's will and sketched this new version, but finally abandoned it. In doing so Amandil's brother Elentir disappeared.[8]