Father of The Hope of Elves and Men
Silmarillion Spotlight: Tuor
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The Silmarillion, sometimes referred to as “the Bible of Middle-earth,”1 is filled with hundreds of characters whose lives span from before the breaking of the first silence with the Music of the Ainur until the end of the Third Age. Amidst the myriad characters, several characters emerge as the most significant to be found in this collection of tales of Middle-earth.
Fëanor, greatest of all the Children of Ilúvatar, crafter of the eponymous Silmarils whose pride leads directly to many of the great tragedies and horrors of the First Age.
Melkor, later called Morgoth, the main antagonist of The Silmarillion and chief adversary of the Valar and all they create.
Beren and Lúthien, the first pairing of mortal man and immortal elf whose “heroic-fairy-romance” (Letter 131) was inspired by Tolkien’s love for his wife Edith.
Túrin Turambar, the tragic figure of all tragic figures, the great and proud warrior whose doom destroyed his family, great kingdoms, and his own life.
Eärendil, Elrond’s father, the half-elven mariner who sailed to Valinor to entreat the Valar for their aid against Morgoth and who was transformed into a star sailing through the skies of Middle-earth.2
But…I’m not writing about any of them today. At least, not primarily. No, today I’m focusing on a character whose fate weaves in an around the lives of many of these major characters but who finds himself a bit overshadowed by them all: Tuor, Túrin’s cousin and Eärendil’s father.
A mighty warrior and great hero in his own right, Tuor’s doom serves as an excellent foil to that of Túrin Turambar, whose more famous ill fate is a dark mirror of Tuor’s tale.
Three Were Given to the Elves…In Marriage
In Tolkien’s legendarium there are three identified “unions of the Eldar and the Edain3: Lúthien and Beren; Idril and Tuor; Arwen and Aragorn.”4 Though Idril and Tuor were “the second union of Elves and Men,”5 they are by default the least-prominent and least well-known of the three. After all, Tolkien himself referred to the tale of Beren and Lúthien as the “chief of the stories of The Silmarillion” (Letter 131). And the story of Arwen and Aragorn is essential to the story of The Lord of the Rings and the conclusion of the Third Age. Though important characters in their own right, Tuor and Idril can’t help but be overshadowed a bit by these other two pairings of mortal and immortal.
Who is Tuor, then? And how does this second of three unions of men and elves figure into the larger story of The Silmarillion?
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