Though Melkor and Manwë were brothers in the mind of Ilúvatar, in reality, it didn’t really work out that way. In the Ainulindalë, we’re given a sort of throw-away line about Manwë being “the chief instrument of the second theme that Ilúvatar raised up against [Melkor].” So let’s take a look at the second theme again.
This was the first of two themes in which Ilúvatar played an actual role (in the First Theme, he was basically the audience). We’re told that he rose and that “the Ainur perceived that he smiled.” Ilúvatar lifted his left hand and the theme began.
Ilúvatar and Melkor battled as the latter “rose in uproar and contended with” the former’s theme. This “war of sound” dismayed the other Ainur and they stopped singing. All, apparently, except for Manwë, who was used by Ilúvatar as his “chief instrument.”
Does this mean that Ilúvatar didn’t “sing” himself? That seems to be so, at least for the Second Theme. The Third, I’d bet, was sung by Ilúvatar himself (with perhaps a bit of help from another – but we’ll get to that later), since that’s where the Children came in – and nobody knew about them apart from Ilúvatar.
Using Manwë as his “chief instrument” seems to imply that he had others, less chief. This would make sense since we’re told that Manwë “called unto himself many spirits both greater and less” to come to Arda and aid him against Melkor’s discord. If they had not done this, Melkor would have taken over the world and ruined everything.
The parallels to the Music are pretty obvious. Just as in the Second Theme, Manwë was joined by other Ainur to battle against Melkor who wanted to make the Music (or in this case, Arda) his own. The Third Theme would also be echoed, but not quite yet.
Manwë’s chastisement of Melkor was actually pretty lenient. He would not allow Melkor to claim Arda as his own because the other Ainur “have laboured here no less than thou.” He admitted that Melkor had labored there (if not helped). But this created friction and Melkor left for “other regions and did there what he would.” Still, ruling all of Arda was what he wanted.
The chastisement of Melkor wasn’t present in earliest 1919 draft or the one from the mid-1930s. However, in the latter draft, Tolkien decreed that this was when Melkor made the Orcs. Tolkien wrote then: “Few of the divine race went with him… and his companions were of his own making: the Orcs and demons that long troubled them early, tormenting Men and Elves.” 1
Additionally, in the 1948 version, Tolkien had an extra line closing the paragraph: “For he [Melkor] was alone, without friend or companion, and he had as yet but small following; since of those that had attuned their music to his in the beginning not all had been willing to go down with him into the World, and few that had come would yet endure his servitude.” 2
This is an amazing sentence that really changed the way I thought about Melkor’s minions. Some chose to stay with Ilúvatar, while others with the Valar. Even his own friends didn’t like Melkor. Tolkien cut this line from the 1951 draft, but still, it’s pretty fun.
The sentiment was crafted from an odd earlier draft from around or just before 1948 – the Round World Version, in which the Sun was there from the start. In that, Melkor was the first to come into the “halls of the World,” taking it and making it his own. When Manwë saw what he was doing, he said to the others: “Let us go to the Halls of Anar, where the Sun of the Little World is kindled, and watch that Melkor bring it not all to ruin!”
There, we also learn that Melkor was nearly alone, except for a few “lesser spirits who had attuned their music to his; and he walked alone; and the Earth was in flames.” The paragraphs surrounding this one in the Round World Version were rewritten in 1948 and revised in 1951 to create the text that we know now in the published Silmarillion3
Moving on, we learn that the Valar took their shapes based upon those of the Children of Ilúvatar as they saw in the vision. We learn that they are spirits and clothe themselves in in bodies, but can also clothe themselves “in their own thoughts, made visible in forms of majesty and dread.” They can really only be perceived when they have bodies, which means that they can go bodiless, as spirits, and be undetected. When embodied, they take male and female forms based upon their temperaments.
This paragraph, as lengthy as it is in the published Silmarillion, was even longer in the later 1948-51 drafts. There, Tolkien added specific details about certain Valar, such as Varda (Queen of the Valar and spouse of Manwë), Yavanna (who was Varda’s sister and spouse of Aulë), and Nienna (who, like Ulmo, dwelt alone), creating, along with the previously-mentioned Manwë, Aulë, Ulmo, and Melkor, “the Seven Great Ones of the Kingdom of Arda.”4
It’s pretty easy to understand why this was edited out by his son, since Tolkien later increased the number of the Valar to fourteen (not including Melkor) when he wrote the final drafts of the Valaquenta in the late 1950s.
The last draft of the Ainulindalë also contained a bit of the framing narrative, and it’s a shame that it was cut. Here, Pengoloð said to Ælfwine: “And I myself, long years agone, in the land of the Valar have seen Yavanna in the likeness of a Tree; and the beauty and majesty of the form could not be told in words, not unless all the things that grow in the earth, from the least unto the greatest, should sing in choir together, making unto their queen an offering of song to be laid before the throne of Ilúvatar.”5
Since Christopher Tolkien did away with the framing narrative, this too had to go. While the mention of the other Valar is what it is, the loss of Pengoloð’s description of Yavanna is really some great writing. It’s such a shame that it was dropped.
- Any guesses as to which of the Valar I’m pegging as the instrument of the Third Theme?
- I’m going to finish up the Ainulindlë in the next post, and then do another post about the ending that Tolkien had wanted (and which Christopher Tolkien edited away).
- Melkor was kind of a cock.
Pages & Text
- Page 21
- Chapter: Ainulindalë, Paragraphs 22-23
- Starting with:
“But Manwë was the brother of Melkor…”
- Ending with:
“…in forms of majesty and dread.”