Of The Beginning of Days, Of Aulë and Yavanna, and Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor (Silmarillion Book Club: Part Three)
This is part three in a fourteen-week book club series and discussion on The Silmarillion. Thanks so much for joining us! You can find all of our book club posts here.
This week, we began The Quenta Silmarillion, or The Silmarillion proper. This is where we finally get into the actual story, you might say. This week, we experience the beginning of the war between the Valar and Melkor, the creation of the Dwarves and Ents, and the awakening of the Elves! It's a very busy couple of chapters so you might want to take notes.
Chapter One: Of the Beginning of Days
“The Noldor also it was who first achieved the making of gems; and the fairest of all gems were the Silmarils, and they are lost.”
“Manwe has no thought for his own honour, and is not jealous of his power, but rules all to peace.”
“[Yavanna] would ever urge the Valar to that war with his evil dominion that they must surely wage ere the coming of the Firstborn.”
"And if ever in their dealings with Elves and Men the Ainur have endeavored to force them when they would not be guided, seldom has this turned to good, howsoever the intent.”
“But to the Atani I will give a new gift.’ Therefore he willed that the hearts of Men should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein; but they should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else;”
“Death is their fate, the gift of Iluvatar, which as Time wears even the Powers shall envy.”
What was Melkor's motivation for destroying the Lamps? How did this affect Middle-Earth?
Why did the Valar create Valinor? Did all of the Valar dwell there?
What did Yavanna create in Valinor to bring light once again to the world?
Which of the Valar was most insistent that they wage war with Melkor before the coming of the Children?
How does Manwe feel about the Children of Iluvatar? How do the Elves feel about Men? How does Melkor feel about Men?
What is the greatest difference between Elves and Men?
How has Melkor cast a shadow upon the gift of mortality?
Chapter Two: Of Aulë and Yavanna
“For thou hast from me as a gift thy own being only, and no more; and therefore the creatures of thy hand and mind can live only by that being, moving when thou thinkest to move them, and if thy thought be elsewhere, standing idle. Is that thy desire?”
“Then Aulë took up a great hammer to smite the Dwarves; and he wept. But Ilúvatar had compassion upon Aulë and his desire; because of his humility… And the voice of Ilúvatar said to Aulë: ‘Thy offer I accepted even as it was made.”
"Would that the trees might speak on behalf of all things that have roots, and punish those what wrong them!" (Yavanna)
"...and Yavanna returned to Aulë; and he was in his smithy, pouring molten metal into a mould. 'Eru is bountiful,' she said. 'Now let thy children beware! For there shall walk a power in the forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril.' 'Nonetheless they will have need of wood,' said Aulë, and he went on with his smith-work.
What was Aulë's motivation for making the Dwarves? How did Ilúvatar react? How are his actions different from Melkor's?
What did Yavanna create in order to protect living things with roots? How did Aulë react?
Chapter Three: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor
"But in the north Melkor built his strength, and he slept not, but watched, and laboured; and the evil things that he had perverted walked abroad, and the dark and slumbering woods were haunted by monsters and shapes of dread."
"Yet be sure of this: the hour approaches, and within this age our hope shall be revealed, and the Children shall awake. Shall we then leave the lands of their dwelling desolate and full of evil?"
"Moreover it is doom that the Firstborn shall come in the darkness, and shall look first upon the stars... Long they dwelt in their first home by the water under stars, and they walked the Earth in wonder."
"Thus it was that the Valar found at last, as it were by chance, those whom they had so long awaited."
“Thus did Melkor breed the hideous race of the Orcs in envy and mockery of the Elves…This it may be was the vilest deed of Melkor, and the most hateful to Ilúvatar."
"Then Manwe said to the Valar: 'This is the counsel of Iluvatar in my heart: that we should take up again the mastery of Arda, at whatsoever cost, and deliver the Quendi from the shadow of Melkor."
"The Valar drew Melkor back to Valinor... and he was brought to the Ring of Doom... There was Melkor doomed to abide for three ages long, before his cause should be tried anew, or he should plead again for pardon."
"Thus after many years the Teleri also came at last over Ered Luin into the eastern regions of Beleriand. There they halted, and dwelt a while beyond the River Gelion."
What are the Balrogs? How are they described?
How do the Valar prepare for the awakening of the Children?
What is the significance of the stars to the firstborn (the Elves)? Who created them?
Who are the Quendi and what does this name mean?
Why were the Elves afraid of the Valar?
How did Melkor make the Orcs? How is their creation 'the vilest deed of Melkor'?
How long did the Valar sentence Melkor to prison? Was this just or unjust? Would you have done it differently?
Why did the Quendi not heed the first summons of the Valar? Who were chosen as ambassadors? Which Elves were willing to depart and which were not? (Eldar vs. Avari)
Discuss the differences and similarities between the various Elves...
Do you agree with the decision to summon the Elves to Valinor?