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Author Topic: Aldarion and Erendis: an analysis
Roll of Honor Herendil
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I think that it is quite obvious that there should be a thread like this, as this story is unique among Tolkien's texts in that it goes indepth about peoples' problems, in this case problems with relationships, and at the same time describes problematic issues about society and between men and women.

Who was right, Aldarion and Erendis? Or could they actually do anything about it, given the circumstances?
quote:
she [Erendis] was not of the Line of Elros, and had a lesser life-span, and he [Aldarion] believed that therein lay the root of all their troubles.
What role do Meneldur, Almarian and the Elven-birds etc. play in the tale?

Did Aldarion really love the sea, or was it something else that drove him?
quote:
For as Núneth had said to Erendis long before: "Ships he may love, my daughter, for those are made by men's minds and hands; but I think that it is not the winds or the great waters that so burn his heart, nor yet the sight of strange lands, but some heat in his mind, or some dream that pursues him." And it may be that she struck near the truth; for Aldarion was a man long-sighted, and he looked forward to days when the people would need more room and greater wealth; and whether he himself knew this clearly or no, he dreamed of the glory of Númenor and the power of its kings, and he sought for footholds whence they could step to wider dominion.
Aldarion realised that something must be done about the growing threat of Sauron in Middle-earth:
quote:
But in that mountain-wall there is a great gap southward in the land of Calenardhon; and by that way inroad from the East must come. Already enmity creeps along the coast towards it. It could be defended and assault hindered, did we hold some seat of power upon the nearer shore.
So the Lord Aldarion long has seen. At Vinylondë by the mouth of Gwathló he has long laboured to establish such haven, secure against sea and land; but his mighty works have been in vain. He has great knowledge in such matters, for he has learned much of Círdan, and he understands better than any the needs of your great ships. But he has never had men enough; whereas Círdan has no wrights or masons to spare.

It seems that without Aldarion's efforts, the war against Sauron in Eriador (does this war have a proper name by the way?) wouldn't have been won:
quote:
Nevertheless he [Aldarion] laid the foundation for the achievement of Tar-Minastir long years after, in the first war with Sauron, and but for his works the fleets of Númenor could not have brought their power in time to the right place – as he foresaw.
But there is also a passage that states that what Aldarion's decision was bad anyway:
quote:
Aldarion was too late, or too early. Too late: for the power that hated Númenor had already waked. Too early: for the time was not yet ripe for Númenor to show its power or to come back into the battle for the world.
But why did Aldarion not tell Erendis and Meneldur earlier about his designs?

For the huge amount of trees that Aldarion fell for his building of ships, he planted new ones. But could this really be seen as a love for trees?
quote:
Yet to many beside Erendis it seemed that he had little love for trees in themselves, caring for them rather as timber that would serve his designs.
The Venturers also had their part to play:
quote:
Moreover timber was become scarce in the shipyards, for Aldarion neglected the forests; and the Venturers besought him to turn again to this work. At their prayer Aldarion did so,
At first, his mother Almarian supported him, while Meneldur the King disliked what Aldarion was doing, but let Aldarion do as he wanted.

It was then finally after his five year long journey when Ancalimë was four years old that the breach with Erendis took place, but Meneldur finally understood what Aldarion had been up to and resigned the Sceptre. After that, Aldarion didn't want to have much to do with Erendis, and vice versa.He wanted to care for Ancalimë's upbringing and disliked the fact that Erendis did that in Emerië.
quote:
"But if one has a distaste to dwell on a ship among mariners, another may be excused dislike of a sheep-farm among serving-women. But I will not have my daughter so schooled. At least she shall choose by knowledge."
It is a pity that the last part of the tale mostly consists of fragments; you do not care that much about what happened to the people involved.

But Ancalimë seemed to have had understanding for both Erendis and Aldarion:
quote:
She approved, as it were, both Erendis' treatment of Aldarion on his late return, but also Aldarion's anger, impenitence, and subsequent relentless dismissal of Erendis from his heart and concern.
But you can't get away from the fact that Ancalimë was greatly affected by the way Erendis handled her upbringing:
quote:
She had a profound dislike of obligatory marriage, and in marriage of any constraint on her will. Her mother had spoken unceasingly against men
Later Ancalimë changed her opinion about Erendis:
quote:
As she grew older she became ever more wilful, and she found irksome the company of Erendis
The effect on Erendis' upbringing of Ancalimë can be seen on Ancalimë's problems with men in her later life. She married Hallacar not because she loved him, but for other reasons (there are several different versions):
quote:
It was however to Hallacar that Ancalimë was wedded in the end. From one version it appears that the persistence of Hallacar in his suit despite her rejection of him, and the urging of the Council that she choose a husband for the quiet of the realm, led to their marriage not many years after their first meeting among the flocks in Emerië. But elsewhere it is said that she remained unmarried so long that her cousin Soronto, relying on the provision of the new law, called upon her to surrender the Heirship, and that she then married Hallacar in order to spite Soronto. In yet another brief notice it is implied that she wedded Hallacar after Aldarion had rescinded the provision, in order to put an end to Soronto's hopes of becoming King if Ancalimë died childless.
However this may be, the story is clear that Ancalimë did not desire love, nor did she wish for a son; and she said: "Must I become like Queen Almarian, and dote upon him?" Her life with Hallacar was unhappy, and she begrudged him her son Anárion, and there was strife between them thereafter.

Ancalimë did not like Aldarion's ways:
quote:
It is told that after the death of Tar-Aldarion in 1098 Tar-Ancalimë neglected all her father's policies and gave no further aid to Gil-galad in Lindon.
It then seems Erendis wanted to be with Aldarion again because Ancalimë neglected her:
quote:
Of Erendis it is said that when old age came upon her, neglected by Ancalimë and in bitter loneliness, she longed once more for Aldarion; and learning that he was gone from Númenor on what proved to be his last voyage but that he was soon expected to return, she left Emerië at last and journeyed unrecognised and unknown to the haven of Rómenna. There, it seems, she met her fate; but only the words "Erendis perished in water in the year 985" remain to suggest how it came to pass.
Did Erendis finally admit that she had been defeated by the sea, and let it take her life? Or did she instead want to have her final resting place there, because Aldarion loved the sea? Or did something unexpected happen at the haven of Rómenna?

[ 11-24-2005, 05:11 AM: Message edited by: Herendil ]

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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Isildur of Númenórë, this is my all-time favorite "Tolkien short story!" I love it even more than "Beren and Luthien" or other so-called "short stories" in Tolkien's Legendarium. Unfortunately, I've got to run, and won't be able to make a proper post for a couple days, but I do have a couple comments.

This story really makes me think of the sacrifices a person makes when he or she is a "public figure." Just like a Prime Minister or a President today, he had to make sacrifices in his private life and hurt his family. If he didn't throw himself 100% into his public role, then his kingdom would have suffered. Where does one draw the line? How much time does the kingdom get and how much time does the family get? Doesn't his wife and family merit some time as well? Don't they have the right?

Great post, and you really did your homework. Expect me back in a couple days, after I have found time to respond properly.

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The Laurenendôrian
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Note 7 in the chapter The Drúedain gives this:
quote:
In the annals of Númenor it is said that this remnant was permitted to sail over sea with the Atani, and in the peace of the new land throve and increased again, but took no more part in war, for they dreaded the sea. What happened to them later is only recorded in one of the few legends that survived the Downfall, the story of the first sailings of the Núimenóreans back to Middle-earth, known as The Mariner's Wife. In a copy of this written and preserved in Gondor there is a note by the scribe on a passage in which the Drúedain in the household of King Aldarion the Mariner are mentioned: it relates that the Drúedain, who were ever noted for their strange foresight, were disturbed to hear of his voyages, foreboding that evil would come of them, and begged him to go no more. But they did not succeed, since neither his father nor his wife could prevail on him to change his courses, and the Drúedain departed in distress. From that time onward the Drúedain of Númenor became restless, and despite their fear of the sea one by one, or in twos and threes, they would beg for passages in the great ships that sailed to the North-western shores of Middle-earth. If any asked "Why would you go, and whither?" they answered: "The Great Isle no longer feels sure under our feet, and we wish to return to the lands whence we came." Thus their numbers dwindled again slowly through the long years, and none were left when Elendil escaped from the Downfall: the last had fled the land when Sauron was brought to it;. [Author's note.]
It seems to me from this that Aldarion's voyages were for Númenor at least a bad thing. And yet . . . I wonder. He appears almost as a latter-day Fëanor. His courses were (in the long term) rash, but none could talk him out of them, and yet it may be in the end that they were good to have been - by them, help was brought to the people of Middle-earth (even if the help could have been greater at a different time).

I'm rambling slightly. I'll go and think about the topic and come back when I have better framed my thoughts.
[]

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Roll of Honor Aikanáro
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I also love this story. I think it shows how much people can be a product of their upbringing and circumstance, and how conflicting desires can drive love apart.

In this manner it seems a lot more 'realistic' than some of Tolkien's other work. Aldarion and Erendis care deeply for each other, but there is just too much against them. Aldarion's first responsibility, as Thorin said, is to Númenor. And Erendis's devotion to him is such that she expects more than he can possibly give.

But while we can empathise with Erendis's anger towards Aldarion for his perceived abandonment, it is difficult to understand the set of values she imparts on the young Ancalimë. Especially when we see how this affects her future life.

Ancalimë as a child is taught to experience the same disappointment in men that Erendis has.She teaches her to see herself as oppressed.

quote:
Thus it is, Ancalimë, and we cannot alter it....Thus it is, and we are set here among them. But we need not assent. If we love Númenor also, let us enjoy it before they ruin it.
It is here that the true effect of Erendis's earlier pain is seen. Aldarion could not give her what she wished. And to him, she was no longer what he wanted. He mistook her clinging love and need for him as a need for security. Was it in fact this?

quote:
She does not love me, or aught else. She loves herself, with Númenor as a setting, and myself as a tame hound, to drowse by the hearth until she has a a mind to walk in her own fields. But since hounds now seem to gross, she will have Ancalimë to pipe in a cage.
I am inclined to pity Erendis to a certain extent, simply for her desire for what she can never have, and the realisation that the dreams of her youth can never come to be.

But is her treatment of her daughter a result of her own resent, and an attempt to protect her, albeit in a terribly wrong manner. Or is it, as Aldarion seems to think, a way to spite him?

Just realised this probably is irrelevant. Will post more another time. But these are what I considered the main issues here.

[ 04-22-2003, 05:07 AM: Message edited by: Silmarien ]

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Roll of Honor Herendil
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Yes, the Drúedain didn't like his travels, but the Venturers were at first admired by the rest of the people:
quote:
For the Venturers grew in numbers and in the esteem of men, and they called them Uinendili, the lovers of Uinen; and their Captain became the less easy to rebuke or restrain.
Later on their populariy decreased though:
quote:
the Venturers were fallen out of esteem; for men, thought that he [Aldarion] had treated Erendis ill

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Roll of Honor Aikanáro
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But was that not only because it was Erendis they were listening to?

As I've said, she sees herself as a victim. The Venturers weren't in Númenor much. It would have been very easy for Erendis to put about her opinions unchallenged. She was a clever woman. I'm sure she could have turned the general public opinion of the Venturers around, condsidering the amount of time she had to do this.

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Roll of Honor Herendil
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I was responding to The Laurenendôrian's post. I haven't looked at yours yet.
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Roll of Honor Aikanáro
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And I was responding to your last post based on Laurenendorians []
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Snöwdog
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quote:
Did Aldarion really love the sea, or was it something else that drove him?
Yes, it was the Haradian Dancers that enchanted him and caused him to return again and again. Is it any wonder that Erendis felt so? []
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Roll of Honor Gna
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[] at Snowdog , though you may have a point there. []

This is one of my favorite stories too, and I think that Herendil and others have brought up extremely interesting questions and points on the subject. But to me, this is one of the saddest Tolkien stories, because I think it's clear from the beginning that Aldarion and Erendis can never be together-they're just too fundamentally different in spirit and mindset.

Erendis is bound to Númenor by love of place, and by love of the environment; she is rooted in the soil of Yôzâyan, just as are the trees she loves:

quote:
"Name any tree that you love and it shall stand till it dies," said Aldarion.
"I love all that grow in this Isle," said Erendis.

quote:
"And alas! if for love of you I took ship, I should not return. It is beyond my strength to endure; and out of sight of land I should die."
The second quote comes after Aldarion has offered to take Erendis to see new forests and lands that are free and wild. He has mistaken Erendis' love for the trees and hills of Númenor for a love of all wild places and environments. Aldarion himself is driven by entirely different desires, as well as a restlessness or wanderlust.

quote:
Then suddenly the sea-longing took him as though a great hand had been laid on his throat, and his heart hammered, and his breath was stopped.
Both characters have their faults, and Erendis' own mother points out that her daughter is uncompromising: "All or nothing...So you were as a child." But to me, what separates Aldarion and Erendis, in the end bitterly, is their completely different levels of attachment to place. Aldarion is only happy when in motion, exploring new places, and Erendis feels that she will die if uprooted. How can they possibly be happy together?

Maybe I'm missing something, but it's never entirely clear to me why Aldarion and Erendis fall in love, apart from the obvious physical attraction. I have that problem with several of Tolkien's romantic pairs-Aragorn and Arwen, for example. Many of the relationships seemed based on a desire to be with a physically beautiful person. Two relationships that seem more "real" to me are Beren and Lúthien, and Sam and Rosie.

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
....adûn izindi batân tâidô ayadda: îdô kâtha batîna lôkhî....

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Roll of Honor Varnafindë
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quote:
Aldarion's first responsibility, as Thorin said, is to Númenor.
To Númenor, and not to his family.
But he doesn't show such responsibility, though. What he gives priority, is neither Númenor nor his family, but the sea - and perhaps Middle-earth, which he sails to.

Does he spend more time in Middle-earth than in Númenor?
And would he have come back to Númenor at all, if he had not been expected to come back and take over the throne?
Did he love Middle-earth even more than the sea?

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Viscount Værtalion
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Protecting Numenore is his excuse to sail the seas, so we don't really know whether he sailed the seas because he had the excuse or because he purely had Numenore's best interest at heart.

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
Fool, prate not to me about covenants.
There can be no covenants between men and lions,
wolves and lambs can never be of one mind, but
hate each other out and out and through.


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Snöwdog
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quote:
Gna said: "Maybe I'm missing something, but it's never entirely clear to me why Aldarion and Erendis fall in love, apart from the obvious physical attraction."
Being Erendis was not of the line of Elros, Aldarion likely had an attraction to her. But blaming 'all their troubles' on the fact she was not of the line of Elros is weak racism on his part. Much is open to speculation. She may have been hot, but could have been a nag so departing to Middle Earth may have seemed like a good option at times. Also, he could have had a 2nd family in Middle Earth? []
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Curious to read the somewhat negative interpretations of Aldarion's actions, both as a husband and a king.

Thorin's post I think hits the nail on the head: it is from his role as a public figure, and the necessary sacrifices that emanate from that fact, that ultimately lead to the failure of his personal relationship with Erendis. One could argue that absent the kingship, Aldarion may never have married, knowing himself as he did.

As far as Aldarion's role as adventurer, explorer, and indeed, ambassador to the Elves - how can anyone really second guess the wisdom of his decisions there?

Just as Tolkien has framed the bitter reality of Aldarion's marraige in a complex and utterly human context (indeed, it is a far more honest and fully formed depiction of a relationship than any in LOTR, as others have said), so too has he woven many intricacies into painting the picture of Aldarion as a geopolitical figure. Post facto, it is easy to look on the decisions of history and pass judgement, as Tolkien's scribes in Gondor do. Who's to say what might have happened had Aldarion settled more evenly into his role as king? Numenor perhaps would have held out longer in the end against the designs of Sauron - but at what cost? Probably the price paid would have included the complete destruction of Elvendom in M-E. Hard to say, of course, but here we have the same give and take, the same yin and yang, that plays out privately between Aldarion and Erendis, only on a massive scale - and with higher stakes.

Aldarion suffers personally, as do his loved ones, but his actions ultimately improve the lives of Numenorians for a time, and in the end set the stage for Numenor's emergence as the savior of M-E. Of course, that ensnares them in the webs of Sauron. I for one contend that Sauron would have given thought to Numenor at one point or another - just as Morgoth once sought out each and every one of the kingdoms of the Noldor in the First Age, and destroyed them.

The comparison to Feanor is interesting as well, but misplaced I think - Aldarion was driven only by his own thought, not by the madness of vengeance.

[ 02-27-2014, 07:21 AM: Message edited by: Belthronding ]

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Belthronding
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Was reading some, and came across this wonderful quote from Manwe in reference to the Oath of Feanor - seems to capture the case of Aldarion and Erendis, and indeed many of the stories of M-E:

quote:
So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been.

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Snöwdog
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I really can't see a comparison between Aldarion and Feanor, but I do love the quote of Manwe.
quote:
So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been.

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Snöwdog
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Just read this chapter of Unfinished Tales again, and there is so much written into this tale. It has become one of my favourites.
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