The legend of Luthien Tinuviel


Luthien Tinuviel is a character in one of JRR Tolkien's unfinished poems called The Lay of Leithian. You can also read about her in his book The Silmarillion. Aragorn (who was a direct descendant of hers) tells her tale to the Hobbits in the book The Fellowship of the Ring.

Her true name is Tinuviel in the language of the elves. It means Nightingale. Thus she was named by her true love Beren, who stole her heart away....

Fairest of all, elves or men;
Who once danced lithe, beneath the trees,
And sang, upon the evening breeze!
Loved most deeply of all elves,
She, in whom we find ourselves
Redeemed, beneath the silver lights
That sparkle, e'en in lonely nights.
She, who took on evil guise
To shield herself, from evil eyes,
And lone, with hound of Valinor
Succored elves forevermore.
North she ventured, into cold
Shorn of friend, of aid, of gold;
She with voice of ancient power
Shook to pieces Sauron's tower,
Calmed and quieted Morgoth's slave -
Frightful werewolf, held at bay;
Opened dungeons to the air
Which held her Beren tight in snare.
Ye Gods! For who could e'er aspire
To enter Hell, brave Morgoth's fire,
Quell the blazing of his mind
And free the Light of Elvenkind!
Who, who else, save Luthien?
Heroine of Elves and Men;
Who, when her body did sore fade,
Pleaded of the Gods their aid?
Whose song was saddest of them all,
Whose hot salt tears did Gods enthrall?
They offered to her pain erase,
Instead she gave her love that place!
And cleft from kin and elvenkind
Forever, yet she bore in time,
A child entwined of Man and Elf
And God, who grew to span the gulf.
Luthien! Ah, dear heart of thine
In love for thee all elves still pine,
Who greatest glory of their race
Did death, for deepest love embrace!
Yet even Death no power holds
O'er thee who memory enfolds!

The leaves were long, the grass was green,
The hemlock-umbels tall and fair,
And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering.
Tinъviel was dancing there
To music of a pipe unseen,
And light of stars was in her hair,
And in her rainment glimmering.

There Beren came from mountains cold,
And lost he wandered under leaves,
And where the Elven-river rolled
He walked alone and sorrowing.
He peered between the hemlock-leaves
And saw in wonder flowers of gold
Upon her mantle and her sleeves,
And her hair like shadow following.

Enchantment healed his weary feet
That over hills were doomed to roam;
And forth he hastened, strong and fleet,
And grasped at moonbeams glistening.
Through woven woods in Elvenhome
She lightly fled on dancing feet,
And left him lonely still to roam
In the silent forest listening.

He heard there oft the flying sound
Of feet as light as linden-leaves,
Or music welling underground,
In hidden hollows quavering.
Now withered lay the hemlock-sheaves,
And one by one with sighing sound
Whispering fell the beachen leaves,
In wintry woodland wavering.

He sought her ever, wandering far
Where leaves of years were thickly strewn,
By light of moon and ray of star
In frosty heavens shivering
Her mantle glinted in the moon,
As on a hill-top high and far
She danced, and at her feet was strewn
A mist of silver quivering.

When winter passed, she came again,
And her song released the sudden spring,
Like rising lark, and falling rain,
And melting water bubbling.
He saw the elven-flowers spring
About her feet and healed again
He longed by her to dance and sing
Upon the grass untroubling.

Again she fled, but swift he came.
Tinъviel! Tinъviel!
He called her by her elvish name;
And there she halted listening.
One moment stood she, and a spell
His voice laid on her: Beren came,
And doom fell on Tinъviel
That in his arms lay glistening.

As Beren looked into her eyes
Within the shadows of her hair,
The trembling starlight of the skies
He saw there mirrored shimmering.
Tinъviel the elven-fair,
Immortal maiden elven-wise,
About him cast her shadowy hair
And arms like silver glimmering.

Long was the way that fate them bore,
O'er stony mountains cold and grey,
Through halls of iron and darkling door,
And woods of nightshade morrowless.
The Sundering Seas between them lay,
And yet at last they met once more,
And long ago they passed away
In the forest singing sorrowless.

Lъthien was an Elven Princess of a realm called Doriath. She was the daughter of Thingol Greycloak, the King of the Elves and her mother was Queen Melian, a Maia spirit (Gandalf was one of the more well known of the Maia). Lъthien was undisputedly the fairest maiden ever to walk the lands of Middle Earth. She was also the first of the elves that chose to die, forsaking her palce in the Blessed Realms and thus her imortality. She made this choice for love of Beren, who was a mortal man. And so was she doomed...

Lъthien's father was furious over their love and was going to kill Beren outright, but Lъthien stayed his hand. She made Thingol promise not to kill Beren...

''If aught thou hast to say to him,
then swear to hurt not flesh nor limb,
and I will lead him to thy hall,
a son of kings, no mortal thrall.''

So instead of death by his hands, Thingol rudely sent Beren on an impossible take back one of the three Silmarils that Morgoth had stolen from the elves so long ago. The Silmarills were jewels made of the Light of the Two Trees, crafted by Fлanor and considered most precious to the elves, they desired them above all things. Indeed, the elves were only in Middle Earth because they were trying to recover them back from Morgoth. Only when Beren obtained one of them could he have the hand of Lъthien. What chance did a mortal man alone have against the evil and mighty god-like Vala? None...

So Beren for his Love, and his Honor, and the Honor of his House and his Ancestors, accepted the Quest. He left the Court of Thingol, though he knew that this Quest was an impossible one, he had no choice but to try...

''Death you can give me earned or unearned;
but the names I will not take from you
of baseborn, nor spy, nor thrall.
By the ring of Felagund,
that he gave to Barahir my father
on the battlefield of the North,
my house has not earned such names
from any Elf, be he king or no.''

Thingol, afraid that Lъthien would follow Beren, had a house for her made in the limbs of a tree called Hнrilorn. There he placed her and set guard about the tree. Lъthien was a prisoner in her own father's kingdom and for such treatment of her person and of her Love, she defied her father, so fled to find and aid Beren in his Quest.
Lъthien had magic at her disposal, she had inherited it from her mother Melian. With this magic, she wove a cloak made of her own hair, singing spells and enchantments of sleep into its creation. She used this cloak to escape Hнrilorn by putting the guards to sleep, and climbing down the tree...

After her escape from father's kingdom, Lъthien wandered lost in the lands outside of Doriath, seeking her Beren, when she was beset upon by a large and fearsome hound...

''Huan alone that she ever met
she never in enchantment set
nor bound with spells.
But loveliness and gentle voice and pale distress
and eyes like starlight dimmed with tears
tamed him that death nor monster fears.''

Huan was this fearsome hound, but he was more then just a hound, he was a Hound of the Valar, thus he was worthy of the Holy Ones, the Ainur. He served on the side of good, and battled long against Morgoth's minions. Nothing ever escaped Huan, and he was undefeatable.

''Hounds there were in Valinor
with silver collars. Hart and boar,
the fox and hare and nimble roe
there in forests green did go.''

Huan happened to be out hunting that day, and chanced upon Lъthien escaping through the woods. Her tears and her beauty moved him, he loved her, so set himself as her companion and protector. Huan helped Lъthien to find Beren. He had been imprisoned by one of Morgoth's most foul of servants, Sauron....

Huan and Lъthien were able to free Beren from Sauron's prisons by battling him at his gates. Sauron then came upon Lъthien and Huan disguised in the form of a wolf...

''So great was the horror of his approach
that Huan leaped aside.
Then Sauron sprang upon Lъthien;
and she swooned before the menace
of the fell spirit in his eye
and the foul vapour of his breath.
But even as he came,
falling she cast a fold of her
dark cloak before his eyes;
and he stumbled, for a fleeting
drowsiness came upon him.
Then Huan sprang.
There befell the battle of Huan and Wolf-Sauron,''

After their escape, Lъthien, Huan, and Beren traveled on to the North, toward Angband, Morgoth's foul and evil dungeon-fortress. Beren was afraid for Lъthien so bade Huan to guard and protect her one morning, and he left her sleeping upon the grass, continuing the way without her.

''Farewell sweet earth and northern sky,
for ever blest, since here did lie
and here with lissom limbs did run
beneath the Moon, beneath the Sun,
Lъthien Tinъviel
more fair then mortal tongue can tell.
Though all to ruin fell the world
and were dissolved and backwards hurled
unmade into the old abyss,
yet were its making good, for this---
the dusk, the dawn, the earth, the sea---
that Lъthien for a time should be.''

Beren knew it was suicide to enter Angband and confront Morgoth, he could not bear the thought of Morgoth destroying Lъthien along with him. Lъthien however heard his song of lamentation and answered him. But Beren was afraid, for Lъthien had disguised herself as the vampire-messenger of Morgoth's, Thuringwethil and Huan was the horrifying werewolf Draugluin. Yet from such a foul creature came Lъthien's fair voice! They halted before Beren, and cast aside their disguises, thus they were reunited, but it was here that Huan had to part ways with them, as they needed his disguise for Beren...

Lъthien, disguised as Sauron's vampire messenger,Thuringwethil, and Beren the werewolf, Draugluin, they entered Angband. Lъthien did approach Morgoth and Beren went to lay beneath his throne. Morgoth saw through Lъthien's disguise, but he desired her with an ''evil lust'', so he avidly watched as Lъthien danced before him with her magic cloak. All of Morgoth's court fell asleep because of the magic of this cloak, Morgoth included. The Silmarils upon his Iron Crown then did blaze forth, and Beren pried one of them from the crown. After Beren had the Silmaril, they did flee for their very lives...

As they fled from the gates of Angband, Beren and Lъthien met with Carcharoth, Guardian of the Gates of Angband. The greatest of the evil wolves, Carcharoth never slept. He saw them coming and Beren did fight with Carcharoth....whereupon lost his hand to the wolf, the hand clutching the Silmaril. The jewel was a burning agony in Carcharoth's belly and he went mad, running away into the surrounding lands, destroying all in his path trying to relieve the searing pain. Beren, now lamed and Lъthien made their escape from Angband, and went back to Doriath...

Huan met up with Beren in Doriath and they went hunting after Carcharoth, for it was Huan's destiny to fight this evil wolf. The Silmaril Carcharoth had swallowed not only caused him intense pain, but it also made his powers greater. When Beren and Huan found Carcharoth, they battled long and fierce, but in the end, Huan won over the wolf, but at the cost of his life, for the fangs of Carcharoth were venomous...

Beren cut the Jewel from Carcharoth's belly and returned it to King Thingol, but his doom was written, for Beren also died from his wounds. Lъthien, in her grief, wasted away. She then decided to confront the Lord of the Dead, Mandos and ask for a second chance. She sang songs of such sadness, that she persuaded Mandros to give her and Beren that second chance at life, but he had a price, Lъthien had to give up her right to immortality in the Grey Havens, the place that elves go when they die, or when they tire of life on Middle Earth. She would be dead in truth, just like a mortal human...

Upon their return to Middle Earth, Beren and Lъthien settled down in the quiet land of Ossiriand. They had only one child, a son, Dior, who eventually became the King of Doriath after the murder of his grandfather King Thingol by the Dwarves of Nogrod *. Lъthien and Beren lived their second time around in Middle Earth for fourty years. When they died the second time, the Valar took pity on them and so they were placed in the skies as stars for all to see...
And so ends the Tale of Lъthien and Beren.

The Dwarves of Nogrod murdered Thingol after he contracted them to make a necklace to set the Silmaril in. The Dwarves desired to keep the jewel instead and killed the King in their treachery. The Elves did battle with them and recovered the Silmaril, which Dior inherited when he asended to the throne. But the damage was done and the elves trusted the dwarves never again.