Won’t Melkor PLEASE Think of the Children! (Silmarillion Slow Cooker, p17)

Remember what I said about time in the Ainulindalë? That’s totally still in effect, but there are changes afoot. For starters, we flash back to the Third Theme, the last one, which was given by Ilúvatar who took the most successful notes of Melkor’s theme to make his own more beautiful.

We’re told that through the Music and through various other things that Ilúvatar told the Ainur, they knew quite a bit about the past, present and future. They had designed the world with their music, assuming that it only existed for the sake of its own beauty. But they weren’t quite right.

Ilúvatar had taken the Ainur into the Void and showed them a vision. In this vision they saw the world, but also saw the Children of Ilúvatar who were to live there. The Children, we’re told, were created by Ilúvatar with no input at all from the Ainur, who had no idea what was about to happen. The Children weren’t present in the original Music, which Ilúvatar had given at the beginning.

The Ainur had nothing to do with the Children’s design or creation. It was from Ilúvatar’s mind alone that they came. But because of that, they Ainur learned more about Ilúvatar, and grew to love the Children more deeply.

This is the first paragraph in which Christopher Tolkien deviates from the 1948 version of the Ainulindalë. That version and the next, from 1951, are almost identical through the first half. The only difference between the two in this paragraph was that Tolkien dropped the mention of the Ælfwine framing narrative. Pengoloð, who, in the original framing, was speaking the Ainulindalë o Ælfwine, had just explained that there were some things that the Ainur couldn’t see, alone or together, to which he added as an aside, “as thou shalt hear, Ælfwine”.1

It really was a weird thing to insert, and Tolkien nixed it in the later version, though it was not his intension to drop the framing narrative completely. That his father cut references to the framing, throughout the 1951 draft, perhaps gave Christopher Tolkien a bit of confidence when cutting the framing from the story completely.

Continuing on, we learn that “the Children of Ilúvatar are Elves and Men, the Firstborn and the Followers.” When the Ainur saw them and where they were to live, many immediately wanted to go to this new world. The Ainur who wished to go were led by Melkor.

It’s more than a little ironic that the Children came in the Third Theme, which was given by Ilúvatar to play against Melkor’s own discordant theme. And since Ilúvatar built his theme using the most discordant notes of Melkor’s theme, it stands to reason that Melkor had a special connection to the Children. Though, as we’re told, none of the Ainur (including Melkor) had a hand in the design or creation of the Children, Melkor came the closest. When all of the other Ainur were silent, he and Ilúvtar battled with song – the same song which brought about the Children. Of course, only Ilúvatar knew of the Children prior to the vision, but Melkor could easily claim that if it wasn’t for his discordant notes, they would never have come about.

Camera: Argus C3 Film: Svema Color 125

Camera: Argus C3
Film: Svema Color 125

Melkor wanted to go to this new world “and order all things for the good of the Children of Ilúvatar, controlling the turmoils of the heat and the cold that had come to pass through him.” Tolkien really delved into what Melkor’s discord had wrought upon the new world in the 1917 Book of Lost Tales version.2 But here, we receive only a tiny glimpse of what he had done – essentially designing hot and cold. Now, he appeared to want to reign that in a bit.

At least, that’s what it seemed like he wanted. As it turned out, he was deceiving himself, telling himself that he wanted only good for the Children, but in reality, he wanted to subdue them and make them his servants, “and to be called Lord, and to be a master over other wills.”

I mentioned that there were slight differences between the opening paragraphs of the 1948 and 1951 versions of the Ainulindalë. In this paragraph introducing the idea of Elves and Men, the only change across the four years of writing was in the phrasing of the line: “who should take the whole field of the Sun for the foundation of a pillar”. This became in the final draft: “who should take the whole field of Arda for the foundation of a pillar” [my emphasis].

This was also due to the framing. In the 1948 draft, when Pengoloð mentioned the Sun to Ælfwine, he was once more referencing something which Ælfwine would find familiar – just like the harps, lutes, pipes and trumpets from the beginning. And though Tolkien continued with the framing, he probably dropped the reference to the Sun because, while this line was originally spoken to Ælfwine, the modern readers might wonder about it since in the story, the Sun wouldn’t be created until the First Age – a long, long time after the Ainulindalë. It’s also possible that it came about due to the “round world” version that had cropped up a bit earlier, but we’ll get to that later.

So the reference to “the field of the Sun” was changed to “the field of Arda,” which ended up being the second reference to the name of this new world (the first coming in the opening sentence).

It’s interesting to note that both of the paragraphs that we looked at today were later additions to the Ainulindalë. Nothing of them was around during the Book of Lost Tales version from 1917 or the one from the mid-1930s.4 This makes some sense, since neither Pengoloð nor Ælfwine would have needed this introduction, especially with the “Cottage of Lost Play” chapter preceding it in the Book of Lost Tales. When Tolkien returned to the Ainulindalë in 19485, he must have looked back on the mid-30s version, still without these two paragraphs, and recognized that without the “Cottage” chapter some explanation was necessary.

Some Notes:

  • I really try not to look too far ahead when I write. This has d its pros and cons. While it makes the discovery much more fun, it also means that I can’t always know what’s to come. These aren’t scholarly papers that I’m writing, they’re just blog posts. That said, if I miss something, please let me know. It’s a bunch of fun to correct myself! Really!
  • Based upon the good advice from my friend Brad, I’ve started placing the page numbers in the title of the posts. I hope this helps people keep track of where we’re at. I owe quite a bit to Brad when it comes to music and Tolkien. He completely changed my musical world by reintroducing me to synthpop and XTC (the band). He’s also the one who encouraged me to read Tolkien, especially the Silmarillion. If it weren’t for him, I seriously doubt I would have bothered with it. So, that’s, Brad!
  • Next up – We meet Manwë and Ulmo! Stay tuned, true believers!



1. Morgoth’s Ring, p11, 30.

2. Book of Lost Tales, p55. I wrote about this in the last post, here. Definitely worth a read – it’s some strong stuff.

3. Morgoth’s Ring, p11, 30.

4. Book of Lost Tales, p56; Lost Road, p159.

5. Morgoth’s Ring, p11, 30. Yep, again.

Pages & Text

  • Page 18 (with a tiny bit of 17)
  • Chapter: Ainulindalë
  • Starting with:
    “And many other things Ilúvatar…”
  • Ending with:
    “…and to be a master over other wills.”

12 thoughts on “Won’t Melkor PLEASE Think of the Children! (Silmarillion Slow Cooker, p17)

  1. I think the “Ainulindale” is particularly interesting because it’s probably as close as we’ll come to Tolkien’s theology. I hadn’t noticed before that elves and men we’re created because of Melkor’s interference. It’s a good thing we’re reading through the entire thing again.

    On the topic of editions, after having enlightened a poor shop assistant about the arcana of pagination (“do you mean impregnation?”) and B-format vs. A-format, I’m still waiting for my B-Silmarillion. Thanks to the slow pace I’ll be catching up in no time! 😉 I’ve thought about writing some posts about the Lays of Beleriand when we reach the corresponding chapters, as they’re among my favourite Tolkien texts. So basically, thanks for this fantastic Slow Cooker.

    • I think you’re right about the theology bit. We learn a lot about it here. But also, there’s a lot of it that he wrote in the latter years of his life. If you can, check out Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth in Morgoth’s Ring.

      Which Silmarillion are you calling B-format/A-format? The one that I’m using is the first UK printing, though many of even the 2nd edition will work. I’ve noticed that the black paperback is now back in stock in the US Amazon store. I’m not sure about other places.

      Oh, and YES! Definitely do something with the Lays. I’ve read bits a pieces here and there, but don’t know them well enough even to find my way around.
      And you’re welcome! I’m having a lot of fun here!

      • I’ve got Morgoth’s Ring at home, but the library here has HoME 1-5 only. Something to look at later!

        B-format is the US ‘trade’ format (the UK/Europe has another ‘trade’ one, which is even larger) and A-format is the small massmarket one. Or so I’ve read on the internet. If the one I ordered doesnt fit, to hell with it – following shouldn’t be a problem anyway.

        • I don’t know how I’d live without Morgoth’s Ring! 🙂

          It’s weird that the US trade is called B-format when it has the same paging as the 1st UK edition. Even having run and owned a bookstore for about a decade (I no longer do), I still am lost as to how these decisions are made. The book industry has never made any sense. Even internal logic is missing.

            • Oh my! Thanks so much! It’s a bit different over here. We call A ‘mass market paperbacks’. B and C generally get lumped in together, though we have ‘quality paperbacks’ and ‘trade paperbacks’. Maybe at one time the means of the two words were essentially B and C, but now they’re interchangeable. I first started working in a bookstore in 1998, I think. Even by then, ‘trade’ and ‘quality’ paperbacks were the same thing (Just as ‘cloth’ and ‘hardback/hardcover’ are the same.)

  2. It’s really intriguing to me: “It’s more than a little ironic that the Children came in the Third Theme, which was given by Ilúvatar to play against Melkor’s own discordant theme.” Plus the later addition(s), it just seemed to me, the all-father himself was not above some improv himself. 😛

    Hey, I’m glad Brad got you into the Silm. It is a bit difficult to get mouthy-spoliery, I’m trying though, I’m trying!

  3. Reading this page again, I realized another small detail, namely Tolkien rejecting historical reductionism (or perhaps historicism as a whole) in a single subordinate clause: “… in every age there come forth things that are new and have no foretelling, for they do not proceed from the past.”

    Now it might be fun to keep this in mind while reading and try to find out if there’s anything really completely new at any point, which isn’t a consequence of something else.

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