Of Tuor and his coming to Gondolin

A discussion of Tolkien's Unfinshed Tales
Philipa
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Of Tuor and his coming to Gondolin

Post by Philipa » Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:01 pm

Of Tuor and his coming to Gondolin

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[copyright]Marbretherese[/copyright]
I will leave now the grey land of my kin that are no more and I will go in search of my doom!
In this story Tuor, son of Huor, son of Hador takes up his destiny. Tolkien weaves a tale of fate, of trust and belief in hope. He also grants Tuor one amazing gift, the honor to be a representative of Ulmo himself and to become a legend. Let us talk about the symbolism used by Tolkien, the grandeur of the house of Turgon and the beginning of the end of doomed Gondolin.

As we share our thoughts about the story of Tuor, it may be helpful (but not necessary) to have a copy of Karen Wynn Fonstand's The Atlas of Middle-earth on hand.
Pages 12-15 show maps of place names through out Tuor's journey.

And as always, remember our House Rules
Aiya Earendil Elenion Ancalima!

Thoughts from Eryn Lasgalen An online guide to all things Tolkien

Philipa
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Post by Philipa » Sun Mar 01, 2009 3:38 pm

Just to get us started (I should be making a grocery list :oops: ) but I just wanted to start out by saying this is an incredible story. It really rang home to me the plight and urgency of the Noldor as well as how important it was for Ulmo, the last communicative deity was to the story.

If you didn't know what happened to Gondolin you may have different thoughts on how its story would end.

I love the true 'myth' fashion of this tale and the symbolism with swans, the number seven and water have to play.

Tuor's not a bad fellow either. I can sympathize with him much better than say Hurin (believe it or not). But is Tuor in any more control over his destiny than Hurin? I'd say no.

There, that ought to get us started. :D
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Riv Res
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Post by Riv Res » Sun Mar 01, 2009 7:20 pm

I am just finishing up the chapter, but I am also struck by Morgoth's single focus on Turin rather that all of his perceived enemies and let's Tuor slip by. Tolkien certainly has his Evil Lords flawed throughout his writings. Sauron discounted the northern lands in his ambitions to recapture the Ring and thus was ignorant of the Shire until it was too late, and also let Rivendell continue it's safe haven in the north as he concentrated on the south and Gondor.

Tolkien appears to have a pattern of making his evil characters fill with such hatred for a particular foe that they are blind to the very characters who ultimately thwart them. A clever literary plot device indeed. :wink:

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Post by Philipa » Sun Mar 01, 2009 8:42 pm

So right Riv. As I read the passage concerning Turin's run through the mire, I was struck how I needed a time line to keep all these tales straight. :lol:
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Lindariel
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Post by Lindariel » Mon Mar 02, 2009 12:54 am

Riv Res wrote: Tolkien certainly has his Evil Lords flawed throughout his writings. Sauron discounted the northern lands in his ambitions to recapture the Ring and thus was ignorant of the Shire until it was too late, and also let Rivendell continue it's safe haven in the north as he concentrated on the south and Gondor.

Tolkien appears to have a pattern of making his evil characters fill with such hatred for a particular foe that they are blind to the very characters who ultimately thwart them. A clever literary plot device indeed. :wink:
Actually Riv, as we will learn when we get to the chapter about the Quest of Erebor, Gandalf succeeded in forcing Sauron to abandon his original battle plan, which was to attack the NORTH first, by accomplishing two key things -- (1) getting Thorin & Co. and Bilbo to stir up Smaug, resulting in the death of a major evil asset that Sauron had counted upon using, and (2) finally convincing the White Council to attack Dol Guldur and force Sauron from his more Northern lair.

Once these two things happened, Sauron had to change the focus of his war to Gondor in the South and, through Saruman, Gondor's main ally Rohan.

Now on to Tuor! I was particularly struck by the progression through the seven gates (reminiscent to us of the seven levels and seven gates of Minas Tirith) leading to Gondolin -- Wood, Stone, Bronze, Writhen Iron, Silver, Gold, and Steel -- the last gate being built by Maeglin, doubtless with the skills he learned from his father Eol, the Dark Elf. If you skip over the Silver and Gold gates, the progression matches the archaeological progression of the development of weapons -- wood, stone, bronze, untempered iron, then steel. Actually, as I was reading, I was anticipating that the last gate would be Mithril, but I guess Gondolin preceded the dwarves' discovery of the large deposit of mithril in Moria.

The other thing I loved was the description of the cloak Ulmo gave to Tuor to protect him. It reminds me very much of the cloak Luthien wove out of her hair. Protective cloaks are a recurring theme in Tolkien's work -- from Tuor to Luthien to the cloaks of Lothlorien.
Last edited by Lindariel on Mon Mar 02, 2009 3:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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“Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be.”

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Post by marbretherese » Mon Mar 02, 2009 1:55 pm

I'd forgotten what a great story this is, and when it finished I had to turn straight to The Silmarillion to remind myself of how things turned out. But I really wish Tolkien had carried on telling this tale in detail! I too love the symbolism of the water and the way in which Tuor trusts his instincts and follows where it leads (ultimately to Ulmo). He makes an interesting contrast to Túrin - no less brave but far less hotheaded - and I assume that's why Tolkien had their paths cross.

And I'd like to say a big thank you to Riv for suggesting that Karen Wynn Fonstad's Atlas of Middle Earth would be a good reference while reading the Tales. I found it invaluable, and having the map open while I read the story has helped me to fix it in my mind and given me a clearer idea of the geography of Middle-Earth at that time!
"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back.
But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy."


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Post by Philipa » Mon Mar 02, 2009 3:43 pm

I think I found this more enjoyable than most of his 'men' oriented tales was the obvious inclusion of Ulmo. Having Tuor mingle with a God made this story more of a myth than legend. I really enjoyed the genre style.
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Post by Iolanthe » Mon Mar 02, 2009 4:03 pm

marbrethrese wrote:I really wish Tolkien had carried on telling this tale in detail!
There is a great deal more detail about Tuor in Gondolin and the final battle there in the second part of the Lost Tales, marbretherese :D . Dig out that first big fat volume and share the terror of the fire-filled dragons of iron and bronze! It's terrifying stuff :nervous:.

I so wish this tale wasn't 'Unfinished' but that he'd revised it right through to the end incorporating it with 'The Fall of Gondolin'.
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

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Post by marbretherese » Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:18 pm

Iolanthe wrote:Dig out that first big fat volume and share the terror of the fire-filled dragons of iron and bronze! It's terrifying stuff :nervous:.
I will. So far I've failed miserably in my attempt to read HoME from beginning to end - I never got any further than The Cottage of Lost Play! :oops:

Btw Ruth Lacon has done an interesting interpretation of the Seven Gates of Gondolin but unfortunately I can't find it on the Net to show everyone. I do like the point which Lindariel makes about the first few gates corresponding to the development of weapons, I hadn't noticed that!
"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back.
But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy."


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Iolanthe
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Post by Iolanthe » Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:40 pm

I hadn't either. It's intriguing. The whole description of Gondolin reminds me of the Holy City in Revalations - not that I think he was comparing the two at all, but I think he fell in love with that description of jewelled walls, doors and courtyards of precious stones. All the richness and beauty then finds its way into Gondolin and also Tirion, the elvenholm in Valinor.
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

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Post by Riv Res » Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:55 pm

As I re-read it, there also appears to be definite connections between the description of Gondolin and Minas Tirith. I will post a little later.

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Post by Merry » Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:59 pm

One of the impressions that kept building in my as I read this was that Tolkien was consciously dealing in archetypes. This is really a Hero's Journey. We can talk about the elements of that as we go along.

But I think that The Beautiful City is also an archetype that is present in the literature of many cultures.
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

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Post by Philipa » Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:29 pm

Riv Res wrote:As I re-read it, there also appears to be definite connections between the description of Gondolin and Minas Tirith. I will post a little later.
Do you mean physically or metaphorically?
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Riv Res
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Post by Riv Res » Mon Mar 02, 2009 9:02 pm

Perhaps both, but certainly more metamorphically for sure.

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Post by Riv Res » Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:35 am

Gondolin and Minas Tirith

I am always intrigued by the common mythological themes and the names that Tolkien repeats throughout his tales from the very beginning in the Silmarillion, “There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar…” through the very end of his writings, found in that wonderful volume, The Peoples of Middle-earth, in the final chapters, Last Writings (where he expounds on Glorfindel, The Five Wizards, and Círdan), and The New Shadow, (where he began his sequel the The Lord of the Rings).

Always intertwining his stories is confusing at times, but I love the similarities like those found between Gondolin and Minas Tirith,

Gondolin, to me, is the obvious Elven precursor to Minas Tirith.

• Gondolin means ‘Hidden Rock’ and was the most beautifulof the Elven city-kingdoms. Minas Tirith (Minas Anor) was built in the eastern spur of Mt Mindolluin (rock). In the First Age Minas Tirith was the name of the fortress built by Finrod Felagund on the Island of Tol Sirion. Sirion, of course is the name of the great river circling Gondolin to the west and south. Finrod befriended Barahir and Beren. Aragorn brought the Ring of Barahir to Minas Tirith. Lovely circles.
• Gondolin had seven magnificent Gates through which one passed to get to the city. Minas Tirith also had seven Gates, though not as magnifcent (although Gimli and the Dwarfs’ rebuilding of the Great Gate with mithril may have rivaled the Eleven gates), for Men built them…not Elves.
• Echthelion greeted Tuor when he entered Gondolin. He was the Captain of the Fountain. The Tower of Echthelion (named for the Man, Echthelion I) stood over Minas Tirith, indeed over the courtyard and the fountain and the White Tree.
• Above the Fifth Gate of Gondolin, was the image of the White Tree of Telperion. The White Tree was preserved by Aragorn and the Númenorean Kings at Minas Tirith.
• Gondolin was encircled by the Echoriath (ancient volcanic caldera). Minas Tirith was encircled by the Rammas Echor...built by Echthelion II. So many circles. :wink:


Lindariel, I relish a lively discussion of strategic strategy in The War of the Ring when we get to the chapter on Erebor. I am a firm believer that Sauron was neither a victim of chance when Smaug was slain and he was driven out of Dol Guldor, nor was he as smart as they feared him to be. Morgoth seemed to pass on some of those fine traits of arrogance and an inability to dot his I’s and cross his T’s.

Aaaahhh…let the debate begin.

Meanwhile...back to Tuor. :wink:

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