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Minas Tirith Forums » Silmarillion » Gender of the two trees (Page 1)
Author Topic: Gender of the two trees
Telperion
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Lugburz told me something about this a long time ago, but I don't remember seeing it in writing anywhere. Where are the genders of Telperion and Laurelin stated - if at all??

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
The one had leaves of dark green that beneath were as shining silver, and from each of his countless flowers a dew of silver light was ever falling, and the earth beneath was dappled with the shadow of his fluttering leaves. Telperion the one was called in Valinor, and Silpion, and Ninquelótë, and many other names;
The Silmarillion, "Of the Beginning of Days"

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Roll of Honor Lugbúrz
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For starters, check your signature. []
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Roll of Honor Mad Uncle Rupert
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Dark Lord Andúril
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Telperion
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Right. So do we delete this or leave it for future generations? []

Actually I was hoping for something more concrete, along the lines of 'Yavanna made the one as male' and so on, and not a 'his' 'hers' reference. But in the sil it only says about the creation process:

quote:
And as they watched, upon the mound there came forth two slender shoots; and silence was over all the world in that hour, nor was there any other sound save the chanting of Yavanna. Under her song the saplings grew and became fair and tail, and came to flower; and thus there awoke in the world the Two Trees of Valinor.
is there something that specifies that the trees are created with different genders, or is the 'his' 'hers' thing the only bit of info that exist about that?
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Roll of Honor Fingolfin of the Noldor
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I think they probably had gender in name only. That is, I guess as being personified through they names they were granted a linguistic gender though not a literal one. Sorta like in Aduniac I suppose:

quote:
Masculine or Feminine are the personifications of natural objects, especially lands and cities, which may have a neuter and personalized form side by side. Often the 'personification' is simply a means of making a proper name from a common noun or adjective: thus anadûni 'western', Anadûnê f. 'Westernesse'. -pg 426 Sauron Defeated(HoME9)
For example: the ending to Telperion, I believe, is a masculine name ending typcially denoting 'son'

[ 10-11-2002, 06:46 AM: Message edited by: Fingolfin of the Noldor ]

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Roll of Honor Mad Uncle Rupert
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Sorry, Tel. But it was funny.

As the Silm is not described as being in any particular language, I'd have to disagree with that, Fingolfin. Tolkien was far too specific a writer to use "he" to describe a thing. He must have specifically meant Telperion to be male. Without the text in front of me, I would assume Laurelin to be female.

Perhaps the Two Trees can be thought of as precurser animals of the plant world. As Tel's quote says:

quote:
and thus there awoke in the world the Two Trees of Valinor.
'Awoke' seems to indicate a form of sentience. Perhaps an early, more powerful, but less active form of Ent? Treebeard does refer to 'roused' and 'sleeping' when refering to the Ents and Hourns. If this is the case, Melkor's crime is all the greater, as he and Ungoliant did not only destroy a thing of beauty, but murdered as well.
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Dark Lord Andúril
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Well if they were alive, why didnt they run away from Morgoth and Ungoliant?
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Roll of Honor Mad Uncle Rupert
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I guess that's what I meant by "less active", huh? []

I don't mean to say that they were Ents, just that they might have had awareness like Ents.

[ 10-11-2002, 11:01 AM: Message edited by: Mad Uncle Rupert ]

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White Gold Wielder
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If we do want to compare them to Ents, then for one to be female it had to have the temperment of an Entwife. I don't see any evidence of this.
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Imbëar
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Fingolfin,
-ion is listed as the genitive (plural) ending.
So, does this mean "Telperí's [son]"? or more generally, "[Of] Telperí"?
Just curious,

Imbëar

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Dark Lord Andúril
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Hmm, if you are saying that one was female and one was male, I dont mean to be vulgar, but are you saying that they were sexual trees instead of asexual? I cant really see how that would work, for, in a sence, they both must have had female parts, in the way that they BOTH bear fruit.
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Roll of Honor Mad Uncle Rupert
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I don't believe I meant to say that they were entirely like Ents, but that they had awareness, and this is all. I'm reading into the concept that Laurelin was female (actually my paganism there, so not exactly fair). However, Telperion is given the male gender, while he would become the Moon, which is entirely unlike mythologies, where the Moon is female (or am I butt-backwards?)

As for their sex, given that Telperion is described as male, does not by need make it impossible for him to bear fruit. The gender would refer to the personality, and not the nature of the creature.

Are Hourns divided by sex?

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Roll of Honor Lugbúrz
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It is pretty common to personify inanimate things with gender. Although uncommon in English, it is quite common in some other languages.

For example in English, ships are denoted at female. It implies certain traits of the female gender.

The key to the choice maybe the personification of the Moon and Sun with their genders and attributing this to the trees whence they came.

I don't think this anything to do with sexual features in particular.

The choice of name would obviously be the linguistic way to imprint this gender into literature.

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Roll of Honor Mad Uncle Rupert
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I'd instantly agree if we were refering to any author but Tolkien. The man bordered on obsessive for the language. I don't recall trees being refered to as gender specific, like ships.
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Roll of Honor Lugbúrz
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Not trees MUR, but the Sun and the Moon. And these were not just any trees but the origins of the Sun and the Moon.
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Roll of Honor Mad Uncle Rupert
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Okay, but tell me, as I always confuse them and don't have the resource: Does Telperion become the Moon or Sun?
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Roll of Honor Lugbúrz
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Moon.

How can you forget Laurelin the Golden?! Her beauty had nothing to compare on Middle-Earth, save maybe the tresses of Galadriel!

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Roll of Honor Mad Uncle Rupert
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My bad!

That adds another question: Tolkien based his work on ancient myths, so why is Telperion given the male gender? Is the Moon considered male in Finnish tradition? Kullervo, where are you?

Most mythologies make the Moon female, so why the switch?

And you refer to 'her'. Is that precise? then the Sun is female, another interesting switch, as most European tradition makes the Sun male.

[ 10-11-2002, 02:12 PM: Message edited by: Mad Uncle Rupert ]

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Roll of Honor Lugbúrz
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In Hindu myth, both the Sun and Moon are male, rivers are female. Things there mostly follow the gender of the spirit that represents them.

Another perspective is that Ariel drove the Sun and Tilion the Moon. Their gender could personify the body in the same way. But I suspect Tolkien gave this gender due to some innate qualities that appealed either to him or the myth from which he adapted them as being uniquely feminine or masculine.

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Roll of Honor Mad Uncle Rupert
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Did he draw from Hindu stories, though? I thought most ideas came from European myth. That's is my question. If he did, why the change in this alone?
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Roll of Honor Lugbúrz
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I'm sure he's not drawn from Hindu myth. I just gave information I knew.

We'll wait to see what an expert on Norse myth has to say.

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Roll of Honor Mad Uncle Rupert
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I hope Kullervo looks in. I don't know anyone more up on Finnish tradition, and much is based on that.
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Dark Lord Andúril
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I guess because in his army days i believe he made a song about the man in the moon and he then made the moon driven by a man to compensate. This is reffering to Frodo's Man in the Moon came down song. Therefore i guess thats why he made the moon male...
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Roll of Honor Fingolfin of the Noldor
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MUR, Telperion is Quenya and so is in a particular language [] as for the traditions themselves they are also supposed to be 'originally' 'translations from Elvish' passed through the line of Gondor and ultimately coming to us.

As for the Ents the only real specific traditions relating to their origin that we have can be found in the letters and in an essay entitled: Of Ents and Eagles discussed in The War of the Jewels(HoME 11) and partially published in the published Silm. both of which point to spirits being either sent into or taking the form of Trees, here are the two forms(which probably are contemporaries):

quote:
Behold! When the Children awake, then the thought of Yavanna will awake also, and it will summon spirits from afar, and they will go among the kelvar and the olvar, and some will dwell therein, and be held in reverence, and their just anger shall be feared. -Of Ents and Eagles (pg 46 The Silmarillion 'Of Aule and Yavanna'
quote:
No one knew whence they (Ents) came or first appeared. The High Elves said that the Valar did not mention them in the 'Music'. But some (Galadriel) were [of the] opinion that when Yavanna discovered the mercy of Eru to Aulë in the matter of the Dwarves, she besought Eru (through Manwë) asking him to give life to things made of living things not stone, and that the Ents were either souls sent to inhabit trees, or else that slowly took the likeness of trees owing to their inborn love of trees. pg335 The Letters of JRR Tolkien letter #247
Imbëar, yes that is true but it is also an element originating from the primitive Elvish stem YON- 'son' which the element -ion a derivitive in both Sindarin and Quenya. This can be seen exemplified in Aragorn's son's name: Eldarion.
Here is the entry in the etymologies:

quote:
YÔ, YON- son. Q yondo[/u], [i]-ion[i]; N [i]ionn, -ion. [The following was added when the entry YEL was removed:] feminine yên yend = daughter; Q yende, yen -pg446(BB) The Lost Road and Other Writings 'The Etymologies'


[ 10-11-2002, 06:09 PM: Message edited by: Fingolfin of the Noldor ]

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