Varda (Quenya; IPA: [ˈvarda] - "Sublime" or "Lofty") is an Ainu, and one of the Aratar and a Vala who was responsible for the outlining of the stars in the heavens above Arda. She was also known as Elbereth (Sindarin; IPA: "Queen of the Stars") or Gilthoniel and is the spouse of Manwë, with whom she lives in Ilmarin on the summit of Taniquetil in Aman.
Varda was the most beautiful of all the Valar, and her beauty was said to be beyond the description of Men and Elves, for her face radiates the light of Eru Ilúvatar. Unsurprisingly, the province over which she ruled over was light, to the extent where it was said that "in light is her power and her joy".
Even before Melkor first began to create his discord, Varda knew his mind well, and rejected him because of it, and was always his enemy from that moment on. As a result of this, Melkor also hated Varda the most out of the Valar, and feared her more than all others whom Eru had created.
Varda came to Arda with her husband, Manwë, and the other Valar in the beginning of days. She aided Manwë in the rule of Arda and the watching of Middle-Earth. She made the stars, filled the Lamps of the Valar with light, collected the dew of the Two Trees in her Wells, fashioned the newer stars and constellations in preparation for the Awakening of the Elves, hallowed the Silmarils, established the courses of the Moon and Sun, and set the Star of Elendil in the sky.
Because of her creation of the stars, the Elves of Middle-Earth revere and love her the most out of the Valar. They even gave her the name of "Elbereth", invoke her in times where they require aid, and sing her praises whenever the stars rise. It was also said that when Manwë sits beside her upon their throne on Taniquetil, she was able to hear more clearly than any other ears, the prayers and laments of those in need from the furthest east even unto the west.
At times, she would answer the prayers of not only Elves, but also those of other races. For example, during the War of the Ring, she aided Sam through the Phial of Galadriel (which contained the Light of Eärendil) during his struggle against Shelob.
Maiar of VardaEdit
- Ilmarë, the handmaiden of Varda and Queen of the Maiar alongside Eonwë, Manwë's herald.
- Olorin (Gandalf), the second-in-command (and later leader) of the wizards sent to Middle-Earth to combat Sauron.
- Varda means sublime or lofty in Quenya.
- Elentári means queen of the stars in Quenya.
- Gilthoniel means kindler of the stars in Sindarin.
- She is probably best known by her Sindarin name, Elbereth Gilthoniel, as Frodo uttered that name at Weathertop to drive away the Ringwraiths.
Behind the ScenesEdit
- In NetHack and some other Roguelike games, the name Elbereth is used as a protective charm. For more, read the NetHack Elbereth FAQ; for a wiki page, try Elbereth.
- "Varda" (ורדה) is a Hebrew name meaning "Rose", and is a common female first name in contemporary Israel. It is unknown whether Tolkien was aware of and influenced by this, or whether he created a similar name independently.
The Valar are divine beings below a greater, more ultimate Creator: Eru Ilúvatar. Hence, some equate the Valar of Middle-Earth with saints and angels, and Varda (as the most beloved and most prayed-to Valar) may therefore be an equivalent of the Virgin Mary in Tolkien's own Catholic faith.
With his creation and inclusion of the Valar into his words, Tolkien also paid homage to Greek mythology, particularly the Greek Pantheon: each and everyone of the Valar had a specific realm within the world that was at his or her command, much as the Greek Gods in ancient myths. Tolkien wanted to create a mythology for his world, and the Greek model fit the bill perfectly.
With this in mind, Manwë, who is the King of the Valar, is most akin to Zeus (the King of the Greek Gods). In the same manner, Varda, as the wife of Manwë as well as the Queen of the Valar, is the equivalent of Hera (the wife of Zeus and Queen of the Greek Gods). Due to her being the most beautiful and lovable of the Valar, she was also seen to be most akin to Aphrodite (the Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty).
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Translations around the WorldEdit
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