II: The Book of Lost Tales part 2, VI: The History of Eriol or Ælfwine and the End of the Tales (1/2)

This post deals with the first half of the final chapter of The Book of Lost Tales part 2. While this chapter concerns very complicated issues regarding the narrative due to only having notes and outlines and no finalized written narratives, there are two main elements to take into consideration. The earliest plot, “The Eriol Story”, and the later development “The Ælfwine Story” (which I will write about in post 2). “The Eriol Story” follows from the previous chapter on Eärendel and what happens with Eriol and the future of Tol Eressëa and the elves. 

There are brief outlines of events that takes place during and after the events presented in the last chapter. They’re not accounted for in detail and I will therefore only give them as a short list:

  • The Coming of the Eldar to the Great Lands.
  • Some minor Valar in the Great Lands.
  • Tulkas fight with Melko in the Great Lands. Melko’s defeat and fate.
  • The Eldar journey to Tol Eressëa, The Lonely Isle.
  • He projects evil through men. Battles between Elves and Men.
  • Eriol journey’s to Tol Eressëa.
  • Regarding the Light of the Sun and Trees.
  • Fading of the Elves.

The exiled elves of Kôr left for the Great Lands to aid the Noldoli. After the Defeat of Melko they journey to Tol Eressëa and are not allowed to dwell in Valinor by the gods.

From the material Christopher Tolkien have put together this narrative (which I quote directly from The Book of Lost Tales, page 292-293) which I have marked in turqouise.

  • The Eldar and the rescued Noldoli departed from the Great Lands and came to Tol Eressëa.
  • In Tol Eressëa they built many towns and villages […]. 
  • Ottor Waéfre came from Heligoland to Tol Eressëa and dwelt in the Cottage of Lost Play in Kortirion; the Elves named in Eriol or Angol after the ‘iron cliffs’ of his home.

This is learnt about Eriol in this chapter: Eriol’s true name is Ottor and he calls himself Waéfre (Old English for restless/wandering). He is son of Eoh (O.E horse). He was wed to Cwén and had two sons: Hengest and Horsa. When Cwén dies he sets out on a journey to find Tol Eressëa. He arrives there and when telling about his gods Wóden, Thunor and Tíw (germanic/norse gods Odin, Thor and Týr) he learns that they might reference the valar Manweg, Tulkas and another third.

  • After a time, and greatly instructed in the ancient history of Gods, Elves, and Men, Eriol went to visit Gilfanon in the village of Tavrobel, and there he wrote down what he had learnt; there also he at last drank limpë.
  • In Tol Eressëa Eriol was wedded and had a son namned Heorrenda (Half-elven!). […]

Eriol wedded Naimi who was niece of Vairë. Eriol adopts the name “Angol” which refers to his home. His sons are referred to as “the Engle” (= the english).

  • The Lost Elves of the Great Lands rose against the dominion of the servants of Melko; and the untimely Faring Forth took place, at which time Tol Eressëa was drawn east back across the Ocean and anchored off the coasts of the Great Lands. The western half broke off when Ossë tried to drag the island back, and it became the Isle of Íverin (=Ireland).
  • Tol Eressëa was now in the geographical posision of England. 
  • The great battle of Rôs ended in the degeat of the Elves, who retreated into hiding in Tol Eressëa.
  • Evil men entered Tol Eressëa, accompanied by Orcs and other hostile beings.
  • The Battle of the Heath of the Sky-Roof took place not far from Tavrobel, and was witnessed by Eriol, who completed the Golden Book.

“The Golden Book of Heorrenda, being the book of the Tales of Tavrobel” is a compilation from Eriols writings that he put down before drinking Limpë. These tales are the tales that makes up the Book of Lost Tales and is proof that Eriol learnt of the history of the Gods, Elves and Men. His son Heorrenda was the one to compile the book.

  • The Elves faded and became invisible to the eyes of almost all of Men.
  • The sonds of Eriol, Hengest, Horsa and Heorrenda, conquered the island and it became ‘England’. They were not hostile to the Elves, and from them the English have ‘the true tradition of the fairies’.
  • Kortirion […] in the toungue of the English as Warwick, […] Taruithorn (Oxford), […] Tavrobel (Great Haywood).

As Christopher writes, this reconstruction might not be correct. However, it is amazingly clear here how Tolkien was planning to use his stories of elves to create an English folklore.

Characters to note:

  • Eriol – Real name Ottar. Also called Wáefre, Angol.
  • Cwén – First wife of Eriol. Mankind. Mother of Hengest and Horsa.
  • Naimi – Second wife of Eriol. Elf. Mother of Heorrenda.
  • Hengest – Son of Cwén and Eriol.
  • Horsa – Son of Cwén and Eriol.
  • Heorrenda – Son of Naimi and Eriol. Half-elven.
  • Gilfanon – The oldest elf at Tol Eressëa, dwells at Tavrobel. Let Eriol drink Limpë.

Features to note:

  • Limpë – Gives the drinker youth and long life. Given to the elves from the gods.
  • The Golden Book – A collection of Tales about the history of the Gods, Elves and Men. Collected by Eriol and compiled by Heorrenda.

Places to note:

  • Tavrobel – The town where Gilfanon dwells on Tol Eressëa.
  • Tol Eressëa – The Lonely Island. After being moved back east, the island becomes England.

Comments

This might be the most complicated chapter to get through and it is at the same time one of the most interesting. Had it only been covering the Eriol story it would be much easier to grasp, however, since it also covers the Aelfwine story, it makes it a bit more difficult to wrap one’s mind around. I will save my comments on these issues for the next post after having presented the content of the Aelfwine story.

There are a few details that I felt was very much lacking in this chapter. Like more in detail and fate of Melko and the battle of Rôs, there are a few bits and pieces that really doesn’t seem to fit together nicely. It is more developed in The Silmarillion.

Have you read this chapter or do you want to know more? Please comment and tell me what you think of this part or if you have something to ask! 

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