Legends of the Free Peoples: Eärendil the Mariner

Of adamant his helmet tall

The Free Peoples of Men, Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits keep many tales and songs and legends of the glorious deeds of their longfathers. In the Elder Days, the deeds of heroes were of a mythological stature and beyond the power of those in younger days to achieve. When the names of Eärendil the Mariner, great among both Elves and Men, and Durin the Deathless, Father of the Longbeard Dwarves, are invoked by the minstrels, the listener is filled with wonder, for their deeds are are mighty indeed. But the Hobbits belong to the younger days, not the Elder, and thus the deeds of their most legendary figures are less awe-inspiring in nature, yet no less important to the halflings; for Marcho and Blanco were the founders of their beloved Shire.

Eárendil was a mariner
that tarried in Arvernien;
he built a boat of timber felled
in Nimbrethil to journey in;
In panoply of ancient kings,
in chainéd rings he armoured him;
his shining shield was scored with runes
to ward all wounds and harm from him;

— “The Song of Eärendil”, The Lord of the Rings 2:I

Eärendil the Mariner was of the Half-elven, descended from all three Houses of the Edain, the Fathers of Men, through his father, Tuor, called Eladar that is Starfather; and from the House of Fingolfin through his mother, Idril, called Celebrindal that is Silverfoot, daughter of Turgon the Elvenking of Gondolin. Eärendil was born in Gondolin and was but a child of seven years when the city fell to the flames of the dragons of Morgoth the Enemy. He was carried from the wrack of the city by his mother’s servant and brought to safety in Arvernien at the Mouths of Sirion. There, Eärendil grew to manhood and wed Elwing, also of the Half-elven, for she was the daughter of Nimloth and of Dior, son of Beren and of Lúthien, daughter of Thingol and Melian the Maia who came from the West That is Forgotten. Therefore, the lineage of the of the twin sons of Eärendil and Elwing was lofty indeed, and they were named Elrond and Elros.

His shining shield was scored with runes

With the aid of Cirdan the Shipwright, Eärendil built a mighty vessel, Vingilótë the Foam-flower, and he set sail on a voyage of many years, seeking in vain the shores of Valinor where he hoped to beg, on behalf of Elves and Men, the aid of the Powers of the West against Morgoth in Middle-earth. While he was away, the haven of Arvernien was attacked by the sons of Fëanor, for word had reached them that Elwing held in her possession a Silmaril, one of the three Great Jewels wrought by their father. Rather than be taken, though, Elwing grasping the Silmaril flung herself into the sea. But she was not killed. She was borne up out of the waves by Ulmo, the Power governing the Seas, who clothed her in the form of a great white sea-bird; and the Silmaril shone upon her breast. “A pale flame on wings of storm”, she flew to Eärendil’s ship, and there regained her own shape. She bound the Silmaril upon her husband’s brow and it blazed with light, helping them to steer the ship through the shadowy Seas of Evernight and come at last to the shores of Valinor.

The Flammifer of Westernesse

Eärendil went forth into the land and came to the city of Tirion upon the hill of Túna, but he found it empty, for unbeknownst to him it was a day of festival. He was about to return in defeat to Vingilótë when he was hailed by Eönwë, herald of Manwë the Elder-king, thus:

“Hail Eärendil, of mariners most renowned, the looked for that cometh at unawares, the longed for that cometh beyond hope! Hail Eärendil, bearer of the light before the Sun and Moon! Splendour of the Children of Earth, star in the darkness, jewel in the sunset, radiant in the morning!”

— Chapter 24, The Silmarillion

He was brought before Manwë who, because Eärendil had not sought the Undying Lands for his own sake but rather for the Two Kindreds of Elves and Men, forwent the lawful punishment for setting foot upon those shores, which was death. And because Eärendil and Elwing were descended from both Elves and Men, Manwë granted them, and their sons, the choice of which kindred to belong. Eärendil would have chosen to be counted among Men, but for the sake of Elwing, who chose to be counted among her mother’s people, he chose to numbered among the Elves. But Manwë decreed that neither should return to dwell again in Middle-earth. Then, having heard Eärendil’s plea, Manwë commanded that the Powers of West arise, and they went with great hosts to Middle-earth, and they assaulted Morgoth’s fortress of Thangorodrim and the tumult of battle was terrible. Eärendil accompanied them, for Vingilótë was given wings of light that she may sail the skies instead of the seas, and he did battle with and threw down the greatest of Morgoth’s dragons, Ancalagon the Black. After the battle, Eärendil was set to sail the skies for ever in his ship of light, with the Silmaril blazing on his brow, coming before the Sun and Moon, the Evening Star beloved by those in Middle-earth. Elwing dwelt in a tower on the shore of Eldamar, and there befriended the seabirds and learned their tongue. In time, she learned to array herself in their shape, and would on a time fly on rose-stained white wings up to meet with her husband on his eternal voyage, for he now was become the most beloved of the stars to the Elves, and to Men, he was called the Flammifer of Westernesse.

Unheralded he homeward sped

Eärendil’s story and the song associated with him are among my favourites. The song has an especially tangled history, beginning with Tolkien’s poem “Errantry” which is also very delightful. The wonderful meter devised by Tolkien is particularly complicated, relying on internal trisyllabic assonances. If you have the opportunity, listen to the Tolkien Ensemble’s rendition of the Song of Eärendil. They do a great job of it (as they do with all Tokien’s songs and poems). The character of Eärendil was partly inspired by a name from Germanic mythology meaning “luminous wanderer”. In Old Norse mythology, the name belongs to Aurvandil, whom Thor bore out of the frozen north in a basket on his back. But one of Aurvandil’s toes had stuck out of the basket and become frozen; Thor broke it off and cast it into the heavens, where it became a star. In the Old English poem Crist I, ēarendel refers to the morning star heralding the coming of Christ. The poem contains the line, ēala ēarendel engla beorhtast “hail Earendel brightest of angels”, very similar to Tolkien’s “Aiya Eärendil, elenion ancalima!“, Quenya for “Hail Eärendil, brightest of stars!” As for Elwing, her story is strongly reminiscent of that of Alcyone from Greek mythology. Alcyone married Ceyx, who was the son of Eosphorus the Morning Star. Alcyone and Ceyx liked to privately refer to one another as Hera and Zeus, and this of course angered the real Zeus, who hurled a thunderbolt at Ceyx’s ship while he was on a voyage. When Alcyone found out her husband’s fate, she hurled herself into the sea, but the gods took pity on them and turned them both into kingfishers — halcyon birds. The path of Elwing as a sea bird rising up to visit Eärendil as the evenstar seems similar to the planet Mercury’s trajectory, rising to meet the more brilliant “star” of Venus and then falling back toward the horizon. For more on this interesting theory, see Larsen, “Sea Birds and Morning Stars” in Tolkien and the Study of His Sources, edited by Jason Fisher.

One final note related to Eärendil’s choice of kindred to which he would belong: it’s a personal pet-peeve that Eärendil’s descendant Arwen is sometimes depicted in discussion or fan-fiction as having the same explicit choice of kindred as Eärendil, Elwing, and their sons, Elros and Elrond. The children of Elros and Elrond were not given a choice, but must abide by the decisions of their fathers. Thus the children of Elros were mortal, albeit with very long lives. Although Elrond had chosen to be counted among the Elves he had not returned to Valinor, and his children were born in Middle-earth. Therefore Arwen (and her brothers Elladan and Elrohir) had the life of Eldar only so long as they lived in Middle-earth with their father. When he departed to sail into the Undying Lands, they could, if they chose, accompany him and retain the life of the Eldar for ever, or remain in Middle-earth and live as mortals. Ultimately, that is the choice all three made: to remain after their father’s departure, and eventually taste the bittersweet gift of mortality.

Of silver was his habergeon, his scabbard of chalcedony

We haven’t had a “collection” for a long time here at The Starry Mantle, so I’m pleased to introduce this new one, based on the legendary figures of the Free Peoples. Eärendil here is representing a hero of both Elves and Men. This collection is based on a colour scheme of purple, rose, gold, and white, created by using components from the epic Annúminas armour sets and mixing them with other pieces. Since the colour-scheme is so flashy, I thought that the context of the collection had to be something grand and mythological. The opportunity to use the really lovely Annúminas heavy shield is probably the ultimate inspiration for the whole collection. If you saw my little teaser on Twitter yesterday, you can see that that set of screenshots didn’t make it into the final post. I originally wanted to take my pictures of this outfit in Ost Elendil, because the colours there coordinate nicely with this outfit. Ultimately, though, it was too dark in there and I had to scrap the idea. Instead, I took my Eärendil out to the corsair ships south of Dol Amroth to give him a nice shipboard backdrop.

His sword of steel was valiant

  • Head: Helm of the West-tower, level 65 (bartered — skirmish camp classic vendor/Heavy Annúminas Armour), default
  • Shoulders: Pauldrons of the Indomitable Protector (bartered — Galtrev Adventurer’s Quartermaster/Guardian), purple
  • Back: Festive Azure Cloak (looted — Anniversary Celebration/4-year Giftbox), purple
  • Chest: Officer’s Armour (crafted — metalsmith T5), indigo
  • Hands: Battle-leader’s Gauntlets, level 65 (bartered — skirmish camp classic vendor/Barad Guldur – level 65 heavy/Captain), washed
  • Legs: Battle-leader’s Leggings, level 65 (bartered — skirmish camp classic vendor/Barad Guldur – level 65 heavy/Captain), violet
  • Feet: Boots of the West-tower, level 65 (bartered — skirmish camp classic vendor/Heavy Annúminas Armour), default
  • Shield: Shield of the West-tower, level 65 (bartered — skirmish camp classic vendor/Heavy Annúminas Armour)
  • Weapon: Reforged Guardian’s Sword of the Second Age, level 85

Tips: The shoulders in this outfit have the same appearance as the captain and champion shoulders available from the same Adventurer’s Quartermaster in Galtrev. The cloak is also available at the time of writing from Lalia’s Market. As an alternative the shoulders in this outfit, you could use the Berserker’s Shoulders (bartered — Ost Galadh Champion trainer), dyed violet, or the Shoulders of the Lady’s Power (bartered — Caras Galadhon Champion trainer), which have the same appearance. Likewise, helm skin from those two sets look great with this outfit as well. A nice alternative cloak is the Cloak of the Boar-clan Warrior (quest reward — Dunland [71] Lost Miner — Siam), dyed purple. A cloak with the same skin is also available at Lalia’s Market at the time of this post’s writing.

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7 Responses to Legends of the Free Peoples: Eärendil the Mariner

  1. So beautiful! Love the atmosphere and colours. Turned out awesome! ❤

  2. Harrison Dansie says:

    A lustrous design! The purple and gold just shout to me “royalty!” Can’t wait to see the other additions to the collection.

  3. gloredh says:

    wonderful design, atmosphere and poses! I can see this image of Earendil fit indeed in the description of the book 🙂 and this outfit goes in the list of my favorites that you made!

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