Behold! You Are Come to Cerin Amroth! (And Look! There’s Dol Guldur!)

Even before having his blindfold removed, Frodo was enamored by Lothlorien. But once he could see, so much of it came flooding over him. This was done by direct order from Galadriel herself. Even Gimli the Dwarf was to have his blindfold removed. She knew all about the Fellowship and knew its purpose.

Elves can often be dicks. We see example upon example of this. Even Haldir, when threatening to kill Gimli, was dickish (to say the least). But now all was different and Haldir even apologized to Gimli, who was the first to have his blindfold removed. Of course, that’s a bit diminished by Haldir basically saying “Check out the most awesome place in the world! You are so lucky to see it!” Lothlorien’s Elves were out of touch, especially with Dwarvendom.

When Frodo’s blindfold was removed, he looked around and likened it to “Springtime in the Elder Days.” Just what he knew about the Elder Days is pretty unclear. Bilbo, more than any Hobbit, would be the person to talk to about such thing, and it’s likely he related much of what he knew to Frodo.

Or maybe it was a feeling put well into words. It’s not really all that different from Sam’s rough (but brilliant) estimation: “I thought Elves were all for moon and stars: but this is more Elvish than anything I ever heard tell of. I feel as if I was inside a song, if you take my meaning.”

Frodo felt the same, like “he had stepped through a high window that looked on a vanished world.” And in truth, he did. Haldir explained that Lothlorien, and specifically Cerin Amroth, where they stopped, “is the heart of the ancient realm as it was long ago.”

Haldir isn’t speaking metaphorically. He’s not saying that Lothlorien or Cerin Amroth is just like Doriath (which Galadriel certainly wanted). He’s talking history. Cerin Amroth literally mean’s Amroth’s Hill. Amroth was the one who chased after Nimrodel (I wrote about it here). Amroth was Sindarin, while Nimrodel was Sylvan. Because of his love for her, “he lived after the manner of the Silvan Elves and housed in the tall trees of a great green mound, ever after call Cerin Amroth.” That was the heart of Lothlorien in the Second Age.

At this point in his writing, Tolkien hadn’t worked out the exact details, and would later change them anyway.

For some reason we’re not told, Haldir wanted the Fellowship to rest here for a few hours so that they’d “come to the city of the Galadhrim at dusk.” There’s no real reason for him to do this. Maybe Galadriel had to tidy up the place before guests arrived and Haldir was just buying her some time. No idea, though maybe it was for show. As we’ll see later, coming into the city at dusk was quite a sight.

To Frodo’s eyes, everything seemed new and ancient all at once. This seemed to effect him more than any of the others, though Sam was definitely a close second. Even though the colors he saw were nothing new, it was as if he had never seen anything like them before. It seemed as if the world was being recreated just for his viewing. This was, as Haldir explained, “the power of the Lady of the Galadhrim.”

As Haldir led Frodo up the hill, the hobbit “felt that he was in a timeless land that did not fade or change or fall into forgetfulness.” Powerful stuff, to be sure, but an illusion. The hill upon which they stood was drastically changed from the previous age when Amroth built his house in the trees. His house was long gone, a flet (basically a platform) in its place.

It had changed even more a bit before then, when the Silvan Elves, led by Oropher, Thranduil’s father, abandoned the place for Greenwood the Great (Mirkwood) due to no longer wanting to deal with the Dwarves of Moria, and “the intrusions of Celeborn and Galadriel”.

As Frodo climbed up the ladder to the flet, his senses were keenly aware. He experienced this a bit when he was blindfolded, which could have been chalked up to having to rely more only upon his other senses. But now, even with sight, he was hyper-aware of everything – not just of the texture of the tree, but “of the life within it.”

“He felt a delight in wood and the touch of it, neither as forester nor as carpenter; it was the delight of the living tree itself.”

This is such a wonderful and important line, and reminds me of the Green Elves’ reaction to first seeing Men.

“Now the Green-elves of Ossiriand were troubled by the coming of Men, and when they heard that a lord of the Eldar from over the Sea was among them they sent messengers to Felagund. ‘Lord,’ they said, ‘if you have power over these newcomers, bid them return by the ways that they came, or else to go forward. For we desire no strangers in this land to break the peace in which we live. And these folks are hewers of trees and hunters of beasts; therefore we are their unfriends, and if they will not depart we shall afflict them in all ways that we can.'”
-Silmarillion, Chapter 17, Of the Coming of Men into the West.

I seem to remember printing a shirt about this….

The Green-elves (known as the Laiquendi in the Quendi tongue) were mostly an extinct clan of the Nandor, a race which also included the Silvan Elves. As part of the Teleri, they started out for the West, but didn’t make it all the way.

The Green-elves did not cross west of the Misty Mountains, but settled in the Vales of the Anduin – around the Gladden Fields. (Here’s a map!) They would later meld their number with other Elves, though mostly with the Silvan in Lothlorien. It’s wonderful to see the spirit of the Green-elves still alive and represented within Frodo.

When Frodo looked around from atop the tree, he first saw all of Lothlorien, including the Anduin. But when he looked beyond, it was as if he was no longer under the spell of Galadriel, “and he was back again in the world he knew.”

What he saw beyond the river was “flat and empty, formless and vague. “The sun that lay on Lothlorien had no power to enlighten the shadow of that distant height.” The “sun” in this case was actually Galadriel’s power, and the “distant height” was Dol Guldur in Southern Mirkwood, “where long the hidden enemy had his dwelling.”

Dol Guldur had once been a typical bald hill named Amon Lanc (meaning “Naked Hill”). It was Oropher’s city that he established after leaving Lothlorien. Oropher died at the end of the Second Age, and sometime after that, Sauron moved in, turning Greenwood into Mirkwood. Because of this, Thranduil moved his Elves to Northern Mirkwood.

“We fear that now it is inhabited again, and with power sevenfold. A black cloud lies often over it of late.”

As a testament to just how much Sauron had recently grown, the sevenfold power was actually Khamul, the second-most powerful Nazgul, who was now based out of the fortress. Sauron, obviously much more powerful than any Nazgul, was in Mordor, though it doesn’t seem as if Haldir knew even that much.

And so there you have it – a bit of a wander with Frodo up Cerin Amroth. What do you think?

 Camera: Kodak Brownie No. 2, Model D (1914) Film: Kodak Verichrome (expired in 1964)

Camera: Kodak Brownie No. 2, Model D (1914)
Film: Kodak Verichrome (expired in 1964)

A Few Notes

  • Tolkien played with the history of all of this throughout his post-LotR writings. I tried my best to stay true to the Silmarillion, but in other places, I picked and chose stuff from Unfinished Tales.
  • Sam. Am I right? Sam!
  • The more I read about Haldir and the general misconceptions of the Elves of Lothlorien, the more I’m convinced that Galadriel was keeping so much from her people. Why?

About the Photo
“In the midst of a stony height stands Dol Guldur, where long the hidden Enemy had his dwelling.” Actually, this is “the Castle” at Capital Reef National Park. The photo was taking using a 100 year old camera and 50 year old film. Ha-cha!

  • Day 183
  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 902 (450 from Rivendell)
  • 12 miles to Lothlórien proper
  • 871 miles to Mt. Doom

Book II, Chapter 6, Lothlorien. Entering Lothlorien. January 17, 3019 TA. (map)


10 thoughts on “Behold! You Are Come to Cerin Amroth! (And Look! There’s Dol Guldur!)

  1. Funnily Enough I’m wearing this shirt today! Serendipity!

    Sam is just so awesome. The best thing about LotR for me is how much Tolkien invests in Sam. All the world building etc wouldn’t be the same without Sam as a lens.

    • It’s wonderful, really. Tolkien seemed to write from Frodo’s pov. He was more like him than anyone else in the Fellowship (though a bit of Aragorn, too). So why do you think he developed Sam so much? And so well?

      • It was so odd but so awesome. I know he often spoke of his batman in WWI and how awesome he (and by extension his peers) were. I guess that profoundly affected his writing whether he knew it or not.

        • This might not be the best time to look at it, but I think I’ll try to collect everything Tolkien said about Sam into a post. Would at least be endearing.

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