Valaquenta is the second chapter of The Silmarillion. Valaquenta translates from Quenya as the "Tale of the Valar". This chapter is, for the histories, a middle-ground and link between Ainulindalë, which provides a cosmology for Middle-earth, and Quenta Silmarillion, where the first major elements of Middle-earth history are really elaborated. To this extent, Valaquenta, while a story in itself is 'background' for what comes after.
A. Naming & Describing of the Valar (paragraphs 1-16)
1. The Ainur who most desire and love the Universe enter into it at the beginning of Time. Their ‘task’ is to be part of the history of the Universe as it unfolds in accordance with the Great Music of the Ainur. Once the Earth is built and realized, the Ainur move into it. The most important of the Ainur who move into Earth are called the Valar (‘Those with Power’, singular 'Vala'), of which there are fourteen principle characters: Manwë, Ulmo, Aulë, Oromë, Mandos, Lorien, Tulkas, Varda, Yavanna, Nienna, Estë, Vairë, Vána, and Nessa. Melkor, though he also enters the Earth, loses the title ‘Vala’.
(CONTRIBUTOR'S NOTE: In Ainulindalë, we are told that the Valar (as divine beings with no mandated physical form) do in fact assume physical forms on occasion, though only as others wear clothes - as a matter choice and as, perhaps, an expression of identity and style: it is said, however, that the Valar do indeed have temperaments commensurate with the genders these forms reflect, whatever such an equation might imply.))
2. The Valar and their characteristics are described thus:
Manwë – (‘Blessed One’) Brother of Melkor. Between the two, Melkor is 'mightier', but Manwë is closer to Ilúvatar and better understands His plan. Manwë is the King of Arda (the Earth) and his 'element' is Air. His natural province is the sky, the winds and all the birds.
Varda – (‘Exalted’, ‘Lofty’) Mistress of Light. Espoused to Manwë, she is crafter of the Stars. The Elves hold her in the highest regard, naming her Elbereth (‘Star Queen’). Before Time, she rejected Melkor. He fears her the most.
Ulmo – (‘The Pourer’) Master of Water. He lives alone and without a fixed home. He is 2nd in rank to Manwë. He is not often with the other gods, and he is seldom seen on land, or in an embodied form (which form is always terrifying to see). He loves both Eldar and Edain (Elves and Men), and never abandons them, even when the other Valar choose to look away. Whosoever hears his music is forever drawn to the Sea. Ulmo speaks to Middle-earth with a voice heard in the sounds of Water: his spirit runs in all the liquid veins of the Earth. News of Middle-earth reaches him that would miss the other Valar.
Aulë – (meaning unstated) Master of Earth-matter. He is almost equal in rank to Ulmo. His province is stone, metal and mineral. He is the Craftmaster, the maker of objects. The Noldorian Elves are his favorites. Melkor is jealous of Aulë, though the two are most alike: they both love to make things. But Aulë is faithful to Eru and understands how his 'creations' belong ultimately to Eru, whilst Melkor is left making twisted imitations.
Yavanna – (‘Giver of Fruits’) She is the Earth Mother, and espoused to Aulë. She often takes the form of a tree – Kementari – and she is called the Queen of the Earth.
Fëanturi – (‘Masters of Spirits’) They are the brothers Námo (‘Ordainer, Judge’) and Irmo (‘Desirer’). They are more commonly called after their respective dwellings ‘Mandos’ (poss ‘Death’, ‘Soul’ or ‘Doom’) and ‘Lórien’ (poss ‘Dreams, Sleep-Visions’). Námo/Mandos is keeper of the Dead. He knows the future except that which Ilúvatar has not revealed. He only pronounces his Dooms at the bidding of Manwë. Irmo/Lórien is the master of Visions and Dreams
Vairë - (‘The Weaver’) She weaves the webs of Time that tapestry the Halls of the Dead. She is Námo’s spouse.
Estë - (‘Rest’) She is the mistress of healing. She is Irmo’s spouse. Together they live in places of rejuvenation and ease.
Nienna – (poss ‘The Weeper’ or ‘The Mourner’) She is the sister of the Fëanturi. She dwells alone. She weaves Grief and Sorrow into the world. She encourages Pity and Hope through Mourning. She visits the Dead and eases their pain by turning it to wisdom.
Tulkas – (poss ‘The Steadfast’) He is the master of Physical Prowess. He loves contests. He is yellow-bearded, red-faced, and empty-handed. He has no care for the past/future and is a poor source of advice.
Nessa - (‘The Young’) She is sister of Oromë, spouse of Tulkas. She is a dancer.
Vána - (‘Beauty’ ) She is sister of Yavanna. Espoused to Oromë, Vána is associated with springtime.
B. The Naming & Describing of major Maiar (paragraphs 17-23)
1. Of The Maiar: The ‘Maiar’ (meaning unclear, singular ‘Maia’) are Ainur that came into the World with the Valar, but are of lesser rank and power. The Maiar rarely appear in recognizable forms.
2. Chief Maiar: The highest ranking Maiar are Ilmarë (poss ‘Heavenly Light’ or ‘Star Light’) and Eönwë (poss ‘Strong Son’). Ilmarë is ‘handmaid of Varda’. Eönwë is ‘herald of Manwë’. The best-known Maiar are Ossë (poss ‘Dreadful Seas’) and Uinen (poss ‘Sea-Maiden’). Ossë is one of Ulmo’s people – a water Ainu. He is master of the seas that are closer to shore, coastlines, islands and waves. He rather likes storms. Uinen is also a sea-Maia. Her hair is spread through all waters. She loves coastal sea life. Sailors pray to her because she can restrain Ossë and his storms. The Númenóreans value her as much as they do the Valar. Melkor hates the sea because he cannot dominate it. Melkor tried to ‘convert’ Ossë, and he almost got him, but Uinen saved Ossë and he remains more or less faithful to Ulmo, though he still loves a cracking good storm and is not to be trusted. Melian (poss ‘Lover’) was a Maia attached to Vána and Estë, and formerly lived in the gardens of Lórien. She came surrounded by nightingales into the lands of Middle-earth. Olórin (poss ‘The Visionary’) is called wisest of the Maiar. He also lived for a time in Lórien, but he studied pity and patience under Nienna. Melian is much mentioned in the Quenta Silmarillion, but Olórin came openly into the histories only at a later date. He is a friend of the Children: known or unknown, he has always been an agitator seeking to inspire in the face of despair and Darkness.
(CONTRIBUTOR'S NOTE: Ilmarë and Eönwë are given passing mention in Valaquenta. Like Manwë and Varda, to whom they are attached, they are of higher rank yet of less immediate intercourse and involvement in the histories. ‘Aloof’ is an adjective of multiple applications when discussing these ‘sky’ beings. The real stars of this section are Ossë, Uinen, Melian and Olórin. Ossë and Uinen both (as sea-Maiar) serve Ulmo. They have much interaction with the Children, including the Númenóreans (appearing later: Men of the West, an island sea-people, founders of Gondor and ancestors of Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings; the fate of the Númenóreans, and so the fate of all the later histories, is wrapped up tightly with the Sea.) As for the remaining two chief Maia, Melian plays a real role in the Quenta Silmarillion, but drops out when that history more or less ends. The Valar with whom she is aligned are attached to Healing and Renewal. Melian’s most important legacy comes in the form of her progeny (from Lúthien to Elrond to Arwen and Aragorn, who share somewhat of her temperament (especially the healing - this comes later in the histories.) But what can be said of Olórin? There are, as they say, many tales of Olórin’s deeds – though, as they also say, it is not judicious to discuss his endeavors when he is not present (a mysterious character to say the least.) He, like Melian, dwelt in Lórien – the place of Visions. But he is specially attached to Nienna, who is herself a major cultivator of the ironic triumph of Fate. He is the traveling activist/organizer of Middle-earth; one who tends and stokes the fires that smolder unquenched within the soul. He cultivates action and pity. He is, of course, Gandalf the Grey.)
C. The Enemies (paragraphs 24-27)
1. Melkor the Dark: The Noldorian Elves no longer call him Melkor; rather, they call him ‘Morgoth’ (‘Black Enemy’, or poss ‘Dreadful Dark'). He has some of each of the powers and understandings held by the others, but he misuses those powers and understandings to attempt his usurpations. By using his powers and understandings only as means to his rebellious ends, he loses both, and gains only in resentment. He begins with a lust for the ownership of Light but, being denied this; he takes Darkness and uses it as a weapon against Light, thus infusing Darkness with a fear. He is not alone: he has co-opted many of the Maiar, including those that came to be known as Balrogs (‘Demons of Might’).
2. Sauron the Cruel: ‘Sauron’ (‘The Abhorred’) is Morgoth’s chief Maiar convert. He was a Maia originally attached to Aulë, and thus is a great Craftmaster and maker of devices. In everything that Morgoth does to pervert Fate, Sauron is involved. Years later, Sauron rises up like Morgoth, and so 'ends' like Morgoth. He also must face the ironic triumph of Fate that comes in part because of his attempted subversion.
Here ends the Valaquenta.
History of Composition Edit
Although sequential descriptions of the Valar go back to The Book of Lost Tales, the earliest writing that resembles the Valaquenta is found in the text called Quenta Noldorinwa (published in volume four of The History of Middle-earth). It then became Chapter 1 of the Quenta Silmarillion (entitled Of the Valar). In revisions to the Quenta Silmarillion done in 1958, the section was split off into a separately titled work. There is nothing to indicate why Tolkien felt that the piece should stand alone. While it is not a narrative, neither is the chapter Of Beleriand and its Realms, and Tolkien never seems to have considered removing that section.
|J. R. R. Tolkien's - The Silmarillion|
|Ainulindalë | Valaquenta | Quenta Silmarillion | Akallabêth | Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age|
| The History of Middle-earth|
(earlier versions of the story of The Silmarillion)