Apparently Frodo had no idea how long Elves lived. That seems pretty unbelievable, and yet he seemed absolutely shocked to hear during the Council of Elrond that Elrond remembered the death of Gil-galad.
‘You remember?’ said Frodo, speaking his thought aloud in his astonishment. ‘But I thought,’ he stammered as Elrond turned toward him, ‘I thought that the fall of Gil-galad was a long age ago.’
Come on, Frodo, you’re better than that. He had to know that Elves were old – like really old. He had just met Glorfindel, for Eru’s sake! Glorfindel was much older than Elrond (having been born in the Years of the Trees) and he was also there when Gil-galad fell! Frodo didn’t question that at all. What the hell, Tollers?
So through Frodo’s surprising astonishment, Elrond told of his time right after the fall of Numenor at the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, which closed out the Second Age (so only about 3,000 years ago).
This is where Tolkien did a bit of retcon. Elrond didn’t really exist prior to his writing of The Hobbit. The name was included in the early-ish writings, but the character was hardly developed.
In fact, Gil-galad wasn’t even present in the early Silmarillion writings (though Glorfindel was). Both he and Elrond were added to the tale as the tale was being written. Obviously, the tale of how Sauron lost the Ring was created during the writing of Lord of the Rings, but Elrond also gives a bit of his back story, which was a wholly new version of things Tolkien had been writing about for decades.
Brushing off Frodo’s utter amazement that Elrond was at least 3,000 years old, the entire council was now made to hear (probably for the millionth time) all about Elrond’s connections to the Elder Days (meaning the end of the First Age).
“But my memory reaches back even to the Elder Days,” said Elrond while every one who wasn’t a hobbit or Boromir rolled their eyes.
Elrond reminded everyone that “Earendil was my sire, who was born in Gondolin before its fall; and my mother was Elwing, daughter of Dior, son of Luthien of Doriath.”
Earendil was with Tolkien from the very beginning, playing a huge roll in the Book of Lost Tales, which was written in 1917ish. Elrond didn’t show up until the early 1930s. And when he did, he had no brother and became the ruler of Numenor (so basically, Elrond was Elros until Elros was invented, which happened a few years later and it was after The Hobbit was written!
The first time Elros appeared in a draft (and not as a revision) was in 1937ish, after The Hobbit was published, but before Tolkien started work on Lord of the Rings. In that span, he submitted a draft of the Quenta Silmarillion to his publisher.
In the draft, Elrond now had a brother, Elros, who was now the king of Numenor. So basically, Tolkien swapped names and invented a new character for Elrond that combined his time in The Hobbit with a bunch of new stuff. This means that when Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, he believed that Elrond was also the first king of Numenor (mind = blown).
But moving on, Elrond cheerily confirms that “I have seen three ages in the West of the world, and many defeats, and many fruitless victories.”
We’ll continue on to one of those fruitless victories (perhaps the most fruitlessness of them all) tomorrow.
A Few Notes
- Holy hell I got off on a tangent with the “when the hell did Elros come into the picture” string. I’m not sorry about that.
- The books that came in most handy today were The Shaping of Middle-earth and The Lost Road, both of which cover Tolkien’s non-Hobbit writings (except the epic poems) of the 1930s.
- Short post today. That happens sometimes.
About the Photo
This is clearly a picture of Elrond from way back when. Man, is he old! Okay, actually it’s a photo of a concrete dinosaur from outside a gem shop near Ginkgo Petrified Forest in central Washington. But mostly, Elrond’s a dinosaur.
- Day 120
- Miles today: 5
- Miles thus far: 601 (147 from Rivendell)
- 320 miles to Lothlórien
- 1,178 miles to Mt. Doom
Today’s stopping place in the narrative: Book II, Chapter 3. Marching south along the western foothills of the Misty Mountains. Seventh night out from Rivendell. January 3 – 4, 3019 TA. (map)