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Author Topic: What are Noldor?
Roll of Honor Thorin
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Although I titled this thread specificially in regards to the Noldor, in actuality this same question could be asked of any of the kindreds of the Quendi. And since this rather deals with definitions I figured the Languages forum would be a good place to ask.

I got this idea when Amarie mentioned that Elrond was “kind of” Noldor, based upon his descent from Fingolfin.

I confess that this kind of surprised me, because I had always considered the term “Noldor” to be a descriptive word for those Elves who had participated in specific activities in the past, or perhaps a political term for those following a specific King.

So was Noldor a political term, regarding those who followed Finwe or his descendants?

Or was it a term describing past actions or attributes, regarding those who went to the West, were beloved of Aule, were great craftsmen, those who the majority of which rebelled against the Valar and returned to Middle-earth?

Or was it a term for a racial division? The Vanyar, and through them the House of Finarfin, for example, seemed to share an inherited trait: hair color.

Could Elrond be called a Noldor? He never went to Aman, but he was descended from those who did.

[ 03-26-2008, 06:20 AM: Message edited by: Thorin ]

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Amárië
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quote:
Or was it a term for a racial division? The Vanyar, and through them the House of Fingolfin, for example, seemed to share an inherited trait: hair color
You mean the house of Finarfin. []

I've always seen the Noldor as a family group, comparable to a Scottish Clan. Therefore, it's not race, but it is blood, even though some of it could be quite distant.

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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[] Oops. Thanks!

Here are the definitions at the back of The Children of Hurin. I'm not sure if these are Christopher's words or the Professor's, though.

quote:
Noldor: The second host of the Eldar on the Great Journey out of the East to Beleriand; the 'Deep Elves', 'the Loremasters'.

Exiles, The: The Noldor who rebelled against the Valar and returned to Middle-earth

These definitions seem to point to actions or attributes, not to any familial or racial characteristics or any descent from a common ancestor.
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Amárië
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That's certainly possible too, but it seems a bit odd to me that people of one 'trade' as it were would group together without any other bonding characteristics... []

Edit: Could, for arguments sake, it be a family group possessing these characteristics?

[ 03-26-2008, 06:34 AM: Message edited by: Amárië ]

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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Possibly. On the other side of the fence here is a quote explicitly mentioning inheritance of one of these labels:

quote:
The feasting people were Wood-elves, of course... They differed from the High Elves of the West, and were more dangerous and less wise. For most of them (together with their scattered relations in the hills and mountains) were descended from the ancient tribes that never went to Faerie in the West.

Flies and Spiders, the Hobbit
emphasis mine

However, I think this quote could be viewed two ways.
1) They were descended from those who never went to the West and were so labelled.
2) They themselves never saw the Light in the West and were so labelled.

Perhaps the terminology evolved over time. Originally it referred to different peoples who did specific things on the Great Journey. Later it referred to those who were descended from those early Elves.

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Amárië
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To me, it sounds like they were the descendants of Elwë's people, or the other minor sects that didn't go to Valinor...

Of course, the fact that they're a Family Group is just my assumption. It's kind of what I'd always believed without thinking about it too closely. Problems arise from that as well, however.

Could they possibly then be a family group plus others who feel most comfortable in the presence of that family group? Those who decided to follow Finwë because they felt the most in common with him?

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Hamfast Gamgee
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Well, a quick look at Elrond's family tree shows that he does have the blood of Teleri and even Vanyar and a little Maia in him. But the Noldor part of him seems to be strongest.
One question which has always puzzled me a little is that of Lothlorien. The Elves of Lothlorien are clearly Sindar. Yet they have one of the most powerful Noldor, Galadriel as their Queen. That has struck me as a little odd. I wonder if there was any resentment.

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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Okay, this is definitely more complicated than I had earlier thought. Here “Sindar” seems to be a term to describe a specific culture, like how we use the term “Villanovan culture,” for instance.

quote:
This [Nandorin realm of Lorinand] was peopled by those Elves who forsook the Great Journey of the Eldar from Cuivienen and settled in the woods of the Vale of Anduin; and it extended into the forests on both sides of the Great River including the region where afterwards was Dol Guldur. These Elves had no princes or rulers, and led their lives free of care while all Morgoth's power was concentrated in the North-west of Middle-earth; but many Sindar and Noldor came to dwell among them, and their ‘Sindarizing’ under the impact of Beleriandic culture began.

Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn, UT
emphasis mine

And here again there is a quote that seems to point to a term describing race, familial relations or descent:

quote:
Amroth was King of Lorien, after his father Amdir was slain in the Battle of Dagorlad. His land had peace for many years after the defeat of Sauron. Though Sindarin in descent he lived after the manner of the Silvan Elves and housed in the tall trees of a great green mound, ever after called Cerin Amroth.

Amroth and Nimrodel, UT
emphasis mine

Tis a puzzle.

Edit for sudden thought: Tolkien was a philologist. Could these be terms for speakers of specific languages? Similar to an "Indo-European" speaker. That might fit all these possible definitions.

[ 03-26-2008, 08:42 AM: Message edited by: Thorin ]

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Galin
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To look at bit more at the linguistic side anyway...

Tolkien toyed with the idea of making the term noldo refer to hair color, commenting that the characteristic of 'wisdom, lore' should only be clearly seen later, and the tribal names must be early formations (see Words, Phrases, and Passages published in Parma Eldalamberon). In this idea NGOL- 'dark-hued, dark-brown'.

In Quendi And Eldar however Tolkien wrote that the name was probably older than Vanyar, and may have been made before the March. It was given to the Second Clan by the others, and meant 'the wise' (those who know), as the Noldor 'indeed early showed the greatest talents of all the Elves both for intellectual pursuits and for technical skills' (*ÑGOL- 'knowledge, wisdom, lore').

In the Shibboleth of Feanor (1968) JRRT appears to be on this track, considering note 30 especially. Tolkien wrote that ñolo was the stem of words referring to wisdom, and noted: 'Wisdom' -- but not in the sense 'sagacity, sound judgment (founded on experience and sufficient knowledge)'; 'knowledge' would be nearer, or 'Philosophy' in its older applications which included science. (...) the Noldor had been from the earliest times most eminent in and concerned with this kind of 'wisdom'...'

[ 03-26-2008, 12:38 PM: Message edited by: Galin ]

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Thingol of Doriath
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Interesting post Galin. []

And this tickled my funny bone...

quote:
Tolkien wrote that ñolo was the stem of words referring to wisdom, and noted: 'Wisdom' -- but not in the sense 'sagacity, sound judgment
Indeed. [] One can't accuse the Noldor of sagacity and sound judgment. []

What I find fascinating is how the original division(before the journey West) came to be and how it was carried on through the years. Nature vs nurture... if you take the Noldor and their love/penchant for science, lore and craftsmanship: was this a cultural thing they learned as young Elves at home or was it a genetic disposition?

[ 03-26-2008, 11:56 AM: Message edited by: Thingol of Doriath ]

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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[] Excellent post once again, Galin.

And that brings up an interesting point. The meaning of "Noldor" describes a characteristic. It doesn't describe a people or place, like "Breelanders" being those who live in or around Bree.

I think this is another push away from a racial or familial categorisation of the Kindreds. I think that would count towards the intital use of the term, at least.

[ 03-26-2008, 01:31 PM: Message edited by: Thorin ]

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Galin
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Thanks! Just to mention it, we might add Tatyar 'Seconds' into the ancient scenario, as a numerical name seems to be accepted outside of the child's tale mingled with counting lore (as it was said the Vanyar accepted 'Vanyar' but continued to call themselves most often by their old numerical name Minyar).

So looking back in time (and noting Tolkien's remarks about the March above) we could end up with 'Tatyarin Avari' for those who did not March, and Tatyar who would also be called Noldor (in older PQ the form *ñgolodó is noted), or, a numerical and descriptive term. Again, at least according to Q&E (written around 1959-60, published in WJ).

[ 03-26-2008, 03:17 PM: Message edited by: Galin ]

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Eluchil
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quote:
I think this is another push away from a racial or familial categorisation of the Kindreds.
I'm not sure, as the characteristic and the clan do coincide. The Vanyar were the Fair, the Ñoldor were the Wise, and the Lindar were the Singers (and so on with the others); Tolkien wrote that these were "descriptive clan-names" in Quendi and Eldar.

E: sp.

[ 03-26-2008, 09:36 PM: Message edited by: Eluchil ]

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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Egad. I've just reread Quendi and Eldar. The complexity still amazes me.

Anyway, yes, it seems clear that these terms were inherited. Here is a suitable quote for illustrative purposes:

quote:
...A special kinship between those of the same original clan, whether they had gone away or remained, was still recognized.
But it is also crystal clear that these terms moved and mixed and evolved and took on new meanings over time. It also seems that each division of elves might use different terms.

So to the question "Was Elrond of the Noldor?" you might get different answers depending on who you asked! There doesn't appear to be any easily defined definition.

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Eluchil
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I think it would depend on his main characteristic, as the blood-lines are so mixed ...

Anyway, I have to say that I don't always understand that need to classify Elves (and most of all Half-elven).
Easy parallelism : would the child of a black man / woman and of a white woman / man be considered black or white ?

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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quote:
I have to say that I don't always understand that need to classify Elves
That's easy. The Elves felt a need to classify themselves, as well as all other tangible and intangible objects. They were The Speakers, rememeber. []
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Roll of Honor Silmahtar
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Noldor are also referred to as the "Deep Elves" or "delvers" (I think The Hobbit uses that term); this seems descriptive of their preferred type of dwelling (Formenos, Nargothrond), as well as their friendship with Aulë. Does "deep" refer to their predilection for wisdom as well?

These are characteristics that aren't shared among the other two "tribes" (or "clans", which I believe is an adequate and correct delineation). For instance, the Teleri loved the the maritime arts -- shipbuilding, sailing etc. Why didn't the Vanyar or Noldor? Did it have something to do with their collective experience? Were these traits "pre-programed" upon their emergence from Cuiviénen?

Each of the three tribes were favored by certain Vala as well. Was this part of Eru's design going back to the Ainulindalë?

I think this points to a deeper, more meaningful delineation among the Eldar that on the surface (literally, too, as in Middle-earth) appears to be a division among clans or tribes in order to establish lines of allegiance and lineage, as well as a division of labor.

Great topic. []

[ 04-05-2008, 09:36 PM: Message edited by: Silmahtar ]

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Eluchil
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quote:
For instance, the Teleri loved the the maritime arts -- shipbuilding, sailing etc.
That has to do with music :
quote:
Then Enel claimed the right of third choice, and he said: 'I choose these twenty-four to be my companions.' Again the elf-men woke their spouses; and for many days the sixty Elves dwelt by the stream, and soon they began to make verse and song to the music of the water.

[...]

But the Lindar, above all the other Quendi, from their beginning were most in love with water, and sang before they could speak.

Cuivienyarna.


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Roll of Honor Silmahtar
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But refers to The Music, the Ainulindalë, each group adhered to in its own way. The Teleri were drawn more to the sea, so it's only natural the would have become mariners.
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Roll of Honor Thorin
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Or the music of the voice of Ulmo.
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The Dread Pirate Roberts
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Seems to me those are almost the same thing, or at least closely related. Doesn't the voice of Ulmo run throughout the sea and all waters not defiled by Morgoth?
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Eluchil
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quote:
And it is said by the Eldar that in water there lives yet the echo of the Music of the Ainur more than in any substance else that is in this Earth; and many of the Children of Ilúvatar hearken still unsated to the voices of the Sea, and yet know not for what they listen.

Ainulindalë.


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The Dread Pirate Roberts
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Yeah, that's one of the quotes I was thinking of, Eluchil. Thanks.
There is also this:

quote:
'Hear the words of the Lord of Waters!' said they to the King. 'Thus he spoke to Círdan the Shipwright: 'The Evil of the North has defiled the springs of Sirion, and my power withdraws from the fingers of the flowing waters. But a worse thing is yet to come forth.

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Galin
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quote:
Noldor are also referred to as the "Deep Elves" or "delvers" (I think The Hobbit uses that term); this seems descriptive of their preferred type of dwelling (Formenos, Nargothrond), as well as their friendship with Aulë. Does "deep" refer to their predilection for wisdom as well?
Flieger and Rateliff think so:

'While 'Deep' might seem an odd epithet, Tolkien seems to have meant the word in the dictionary sense of 'learned, wise,' for he glosses the name Noldor as 'a name of wisdom'. Verlyn Flieger, Splintered Light

'That is, the Deep-elves are so called because of their knowledge ('deep' in the sense of profound), not because they live underground.' John Rateliff, note 31, In The Halls Of The Elvenking, The History of The Hobbit

Back in The Shaping of Middle-Earth Tolkien had written out a few Old English words in reference to the second kindred: Éadwine, goldelfe, eorthelfe, déopelfe, Rædend-- Christopher Tolkien states that he is not sure of the meaning of Rædend, though it clearly refers to the knowledge, and desire for knowledge, of the Noldor.

Eorthelfe must be 'Earth-elf' (compare for example OE Eorthdraca 'Dragon that lives in the earth'). The OE word déop is said to mean: I 'Deep, profound, awful mysterious' II deepness, depth abyss'. Another word Déopnes includes the meanings: 'depth, abyss, profundity, subtlety, cunning' (according to Clark Hall at least)

Of course this is fairly early stuff from HME IV, but perhaps interesting.

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Hamfast Gamgee
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The Valar referred to Feanor as 'yea Noldor,' anyway!
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