‘But I See Evil There’ – Galadriel’s Omission and Wandering

When last we left our telling of Galadriel in the First Age, she had just moved to Doriath with Thingol and Melian. There, she met Celeborn and buckled down to attain her next goal “to rule there a realm at her own will.”

This is pretty important (though, not the Celeborn stuff). Melian completely outclassed Thingol – she was one of the Maiar, above all the Elves (Gandalf and Saruman were also Maiar). It was she who ruled and protected Doriath, and it was from her whom Galadriel learned the ins and outs of realm ruling.

But being under Melian’s tutelage didn’t mean that Galadriel was going to lay all her cards on the table. While the two of them would chat about “Valinor and the bliss of old,” Galadriel would never talk about anything after the death of the Two Trees. Finally, Melian had to ask: “There is some woe that lies upon you and your kin. That I can see in you, but all else is hidden from me; for by no vision or thought can I perceive anything that passed or passes in the West: a shadow lies over all the land of Aman, and reaches far out over the sea. Why will you not tell me more?”

This echoes Galadriel’s questioning of the Fellowship about Gandalf. She even said that there was a grey mist (a shadow) over him. She had tried to read the Fellowship’s minds to discover Gandalf’s whereabouts, but couldn’t, just as Melian had apparently tried and likewise failed.

Galadriel gave a wishy washy answer, saying that the “woe” was in the past and she’d rather focus upon the now, “untroubled by memory.”

Melian, however, wasn’t buying it. When Galadriel and the Noldor first arrived, they claimed to be messengers of the Valar. But Melian noticed that they never spoke about the Valar and didn’t really seem to have any messages from them, which made them kind of crap messengers (and horrible liars).

‘For what cause, Galadriel, were the high people of the Noldor driven forth as exiles from Aman? Or what evil lies on the sons of Fëanor that they are so haughty and so fell? Do I not strike near the truth?’

‘Near,’ said Galadriel; ‘save that we were not driven forth, but came of our own will, and against that of the Valar. And through great peril and in despite of the Valar for this purpose we came: to take vengeance upon Morgoth, and regain what he stole.’

Galadriel continued, telling Melian about the Silmarils and a bunch of other stuff, “but still she said no word of the Oath, nor of the Kinslaying, nor of the burning of the ships at Losgar.”

Melian could tell that there were still some pretty important parts that Galadriel purposely left out, and accused her of casting a “darkness” over their past, “but I see evil there, which Thingol should learn for his guidance.”

Galadriel sort of agreed that Thingol should probably know about it, but held that he wouldn’t learn it from her. This was just plain mean. Or dumb. Here, she could have told all she knew and given Thingol the truth. And because of her silence, the “truth” came to the people of Doriath in the shape of rumors poisoned further by Morgoth, who soon took advantage of the naive Elves (the Sindar). And to Thingol, the truth came from Angrod, Galadriel’s brother, who decided to spill the proverbial beans. Thingol was furious and expelled him, though he allowed Galadriel to stay (whatever). Nevertheless, she moved to Nargothrond for a bit until the heat died down.

It seems like Galadriel had a habit of moving on when things got a bit awkward. First was from Valinor, and now from Doriath. This will definitely become a trend.

The next we hear anything about Galadriel directly is at the end of the Quenta-Silmarillion, the end of the First Age, when the Noldar (and other lines) were again admitted into Valinor with a pardon. She, among others, was unwilling to “forsake the Hither Lands where they had long suffered and long dwelt.” Galadriel was the only Noldo who had been with Fëanor’s group who chose to remain in Middle-earth.

There’s a whole slew of things that happened in between Galadriel moving to Nargothrond and the end of the First Age. For the next four hundred years, cities like Gondolin and Nargothrond were built, the Children of Húrin stuff happened, wars and battles such as the Dagor Bragollach and the Nirnaeth Arnoediad were fought, Doriath was sacked by Dwarves, Nargathrong was destroyed by a dragon, Beren and Lúthien did their thing, there was another Kinslaying, Gondolin fell, and still another Kinslaying, Beleriand fell to Morgoth, and then finally the entire world (which was flat, by the way) was made round and Beleriand wad destroyed, leaving the map of Middle-earth as we know it.

According to the Silmarillion, Galadriel apparently did nothing through all of this. She, of course, survived somehow, but just how is never mentioned. All that’s said is that when she was allowed back into Valinor, she decided to stay in Middle-earth, presumably for the same reason she left Valinor in the first place: “to rule there a realm at her own will.”

Still, we now know quite a bit more about Galadriel’s history than is said in Lord of the Rings: “He [Celeborn] has dwelt in the West since the days of dawn, and I have dwelt with him for years uncounted; for ere the fall of Nargothrond or Gondolin I passed over the mountains, and together through the ages of the world we have fought the long defeat.”

It’s fascinating that now, looking at what she said to the Fellowship, we can better place when she moved. Nargothrond fell in 495 of the First Age (Gondolin fell in 510). So sometime, perhaps during the Children of Húrin stuff, she packed up Celeborn and headed eastbound from Nargothrond.

In Appendix B, we’re told that Galadriel and Celeborn lived in Lindon south of the Lune (Harlindon on the map) at the start of the Second Age. Later, they moved to Eregion (Hollin – on the west side of the Misty Mountains), where the Rings of Power were made.

Camera: Arguc C3 Film: ORWO UN54

Camera: Arguc C3
Film: ORWO UN54

A Few Notes

  • I really thought that I could do all of the Silmarillian‘s Galadriel stuff in one post. Nope!
  • Next we’ll take a look at an outline of Galadriel’s life that Tolkien wrote around the same time as he delved back into the Silmarillion writings. I have two posts scheduled for this, but I’m betting it’ll take three. Is that okay? Too much Galadriel?
  • Also, because of Thanksgiving, I’m taking a little break. The next post will show up on Monday morning. Enjoy the break!

About the Photo
Galadriel and Celeborn seem to move around a lot. They must have been driving one of these the whole time. It’s really the only thing that can explain it.


  • Miles today: 10
  • Miles thus far: 1044 (130 miles since leaving Lothlórien)
  • 259 miles to the Falls of Rauros
  • 729 miles to Mt. Doom

Book II, Chapter 8, Farewell to Lórien. Drifting down the Anduin, February 19, 3019 TA. (map)

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21 thoughts on “‘But I See Evil There’ – Galadriel’s Omission and Wandering

  1. How coincidental. I have just finished the Silmmie chapter and this is fresh in my head. The thing with Galadriel’s side-stepping Melian’s questions is that it struck me as just ever so disingenuous. I do admire her gumption for going up, however sideway-siddle, against a higher being. More signs of the Fëanor being strong in this one. 🙂

    Celeborn must be quite the catch though, for her to keep on staying on and risk outing the whole mess to Melian. And I thought it was on Celeborn’s account that Galadriel didn’t get forcibly removed along with her bros.

    Slight OT: Interesting on Melian holding the apron strings. My impression was more a partnership thing she had with Thingol.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • I saw that you did! Left a comment, too.

      Her dealings with Melian are so odd. She uses Thingol as an excuse to not say anything. Melian would have benefitted more from the truth (or at least just as much). It’s just so creepy.

      I think Galadriel knew she wasn’t going to spill the beans to anyone. And when her brother did, HE was the one kicked out, while she got to stay! What the hell? Was it because Celeborn vouched for her? I don’t remember.

      Melian holding the girdle strings, you mean. 🙂 Her relationship with Thingol was definitely more of a partnership than that between Galadriel and Celeborn. I bet if you want to get really critical, you could even say that Galadriel learned from Melian what not to do if you want a figurehead – only husband. Maybe that’s even why she selected Celeborn. Maybe she saw that she could build a good Alliance with Thingol, Gil-galad, etc, and establish a nice foothold for when she finally had a realm of her own to rule just like her BFF Melian.

      That might be too critical of her, but, it also might not be…

      • The Silm doesn’t say anything about Celeborn, aside from mentioning him as someone she met in Doriath. But I could see their relationship as something Thingol took into consideration when he issued the banishment, especially if Celeborn was in fact his nephew.

        LOL at girdle strings. I stand corrected. Of course they’d have to be girdle strings 😀 Interesting food for thought, that alliance bit. Talk about trophy hubbies. Galadriel’s got it all worked out then. Smart gal!

  2. There’s some late writing to the effect that (if I understood right) the world always was round, though Men and perhaps the less-educated Elves thought it flat.

    If Galadriel was in Lindon early in the Second Age, over which mountains did she pass “ere the fall of Nargothrond or Gondolin”?

    • That was around the same time that he tried to rewrite the Hobbit to be more like LotR, wasn’t it?

      “for ere the fall of Nargothrond or Gondolin I passed over the mountains” = First Age

      “In Lindon south of the Lune dwelt for a time…” = Second Age

      I’m betting that Tolkien meant the Misty Mountains since when he wrote LotR, he hadn’t really thought out Galadriel’s past in Lindon. He’d get to that later w/ the Appendix B blurb.

      In the original draft, he places both of them in Lothlorien “since the Mountains were reared and the Sun was young.” The “Mountains” were the Misty Mountains, so I’m going to assume she was also referring to the Misty Mountains in the Lothlorien chapter.

  3. There’s a great unwritten scene with Galadriel running towards the bus waving her arms, yelling at celeborn to “start the bus! Start the bus!”

    • And you too!

      Let me scrape the bottom of the barrel and see if I can come up with a few more Galadriel posts… Oh hey! Looks like I can!

      Actually, I think I have four or five more specifically about her. Then I’ll wander onto other things, though at this point, I have no idea what. Was thinking about a three part exposé on the Orcs!

  4. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I love having these dates included. I don’t remember coming across many in The Silmarillion, so it’s nice to know how long ago some of these events took place. (With Elves, what sounds like five years could be five hundred!)

    Oh, and I can’t believe I forgot to mention it last time, but I love the picture of Juniper with the timeline. I showed my kitten in hopes that he’ll also aspire to such literary understanding when he gets a little older. 🙂

    • Thanksgiving was awesome. Chinese food and Star Wars!

      Because of the whole history background thing, I love dates. Tolkien seemed to be sometimes obsessed with them and sometimes immune to them, so it’s not always easy to hammer down just when something happened. Also, he changed them a lot.

      Oh June is an erudite scholar. Ever since we got her, 3 1/2 years ago, she’s been around me while I write. She used to curl up on my shoulder when she was a kitten. She then graduated to an empty Amazon box, which has even moved with us. And though she can’t really fit into it anymore, she doesn’t notice and sleeps while I work. She likes to pretend she’s super smart, but I’m pretty sure that she thinks the Timeline of the Elves picture is a window (it catches a lot of reflections). At least she keeps me entertained.

      • My shoulder is his favorite place to perch when I write (or grade papers) on the desktop. Sounds like it’s a great place to start. He also hangs out when I read aloud at night (we’re currently in The Princess Bride) and likes to longue in the library, so hopefully he’ll become a clever cat too. 🙂 It really is amazing how entertaining they are. I’ve never had a cat before, but I’m sold. 🙂

        • Best place to start. And it’ll be hilarious when he gets too big and doesn’t notice he’s too big. I grew up with cats and often have one around. Definitely entertaining and so so worth it.

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