The Dominion of Torment – Meeting the Bad Guys (Silmarillion Slow Cooker, p31)

The Valaquenta is almost through. We’ve learned about the Valar, some of the Maiar, and now test the waters of the Enemies. That means Melkor. And here, we get quite a lot of flowery rhetoric about how good he was and how bad he became.

This segment really has grudge to bear. While there are examples of Melkor: Before and After, none really seem to lament his fall. There is no pity among the Noldor for Melkor. Nobody says, “ohh Melkor, it could have been so great, why did you have to spoil it?” In fact, there really isn’t a mention of potential or even the prospect of how it might have been better.

We first learn that the Noldor don’t call him Melkor, that he no longer should be represented by the name given to him by Ilúvatar. Instead, it’s Morgoth, the Dark Enemy of the World. The name “Morgoth” is an early creation of Tolkien’s. In the latter part of 1917, Tolkien wrote the “Tale of Tinúviel,” in which Morgoth was first named.

In this story, the hero, Beren, was accused by Melko of treachery. Beren responded, calling him “O most mighty Belcha Morgoth (for such be his name among the Gnomes)…” Even from this early conception, “Morgoth” was the name given to him by the Noldor (who were called Gnomes through all of the pre-Lord of the Rings works).

The Meaning of Morgoth
The meaning of ‘Belcha Morgoth’ was different than it became later. Beren was trying to flatter Melko with words. ‘Belcha’ was glossed simply as the Gnomish translation of ‘Melko.’ And ‘Morgoth,’ at this time, wasn’t glossed at all. The first time it would be came in the 1930s, when it was written that ‘Morgoth’ was the combination of the words for ‘dark’ and ‘master’. In a slightly earlier story, Tolkien gave the meaning of the name ‘Gothmog’ as the combination of ‘strife’ and ‘hatred’. This would then potentially give way to ‘Morgoth’ meaning ‘Dark Strife’ at this stage of the writing.1

Later, in the early 1930s, Morgoth received his true definition. Tolkien wrote the name was “formed from his Orc-name Goth ‘Lord or Master’, with mor- ‘dark or black’ prefixed.” The word “goth”, however, was also translated around that period as “terror or dread,” but either would suit Morgoth’s nature.2

Camera: Mamiya C3 Film: FujiChrome Provia 100D RDP(expired mid 90s) (xpro)

Camera: Mamiya C3
Film: FujiChrome Provia 100D RDP(expired mid 90s) (xpro)

First Ripples
While the basic story of Melko/Melkor/Morgoth came immediately to Tolkien when first stirring up his own mythology, the first glimpses of the text, essentially introducing Melko(r) from the Gnomish/Noldorin perspective, came in the first writing of the Quenta Noldorinwa from 1930. Then, it was part of a preamble, which was basically the Valaquenta material. There, he’s named ‘Morgoth Bauglir, the Black God Terrible.’3

Though this section about Melkor seemed to fall into place right behind the 1930 description of the lesser Valar, Tolkien moved it around and even cut it for quite a bit. In his 1951 rewrite of the Quenta’s first chapter, while the Valaquenta bits are there, Melkor isn’t mentioned on his own (though Sauron is, in the segment about the Maiar).

It wasn’t until 1959’s “Valaquenta” when the Of the Enemies segment refound its place. This was the first draft of the work – Christopher Tolkien used the second in compiling the published Silmarillion. This was also the first time that the Balrogs, which had been mentioned from the Book of Lost Tales days, were said to have come from the time before the creation of the World. They were now Maiar in their own right.4

I discussed the history of their origin/creation/etc. here, here and here, so I’ll not really go into that now.

Sauron and Getting a Little Off Track
I could have sworn that I wrote something about the writing history of Sauron, but I can’t seem to find it. To hastily jot it down here wouldn’t really do it justice. Quickly, however, the concept of Sauron came from the combination of two characters dating to around 1920.

First, there was Tû, a “fay” (sort of a proto-Maia) who was a wizard who learned black magic from Melko. But Tû wasn’t evil, per se, and actually protected the first Men as they slept before their awakening. Then there was Fangli, who was also a fay (and possibly a child of Melko – as were the Balrogs of that stage).5 It was Fangli who corrupted the Men as soon as they were awakened.6

Lastly, there was Tevildo, Prince of Cats who lived in the castle of Cats. Now, this sounds like the most amazing place in the world, but in the Beren and Lúthien story, Tevildo’s Cat Castle, which was in the Lost Tales, became Thû’s castle in the Lay of Leithian, and then Sauron’s tower on Tol-in-Gaurhoth in later tellings.7

The character who would be later named ‘Sauron’ was called ‘Thû’ even through the writing of The Hobbit, in which he’s only called “The Necromancer.” Tolkien first changed Thû’s name to Sauron in 1936 or 1937, just before starting Lord of the Rings. It was either in the second draft of the “Fall of Numenor” or in the “Lost Road” where it happened. Prior to this, Sauron/The Necromancer was Thû.

Sauron’s first introduction into the Quenta Silmarillion came around that time as well, as the name appeared in 1937’s draft. This version immediately tied him to the The Hobbit: “He was become a wizard of dreadful power, master of necromancy, foul in wisdom, cruel in strength, mis-shaping what he touched, twisting what he ruled, lord of werewolves: his dominion was torment.” This was much expanded from Thû’s description in 1930’s Quenta.8

The Original Ending (Don’t Worry, We’re Almost Finished!)
I’m afraid I’ve strayed a bit too far from the Valaquenta. So let’s get back and quickly talk about the original ending, which was cut from Tolkien’s draft by his son.

Here ends The Valaquenta. If it has passed from the high and beautiful to darkness and ruin, that was of old the fate of Arda Marred; and if any change shall come and the Marring be amended, Manwë and Varda may know’ but they have not revealed it, and it is not declared in the dooms of Mandos.9

Sound familiar? It should. Most of it was used as the closing paragraph of the published Silmarillion.

But this also spoke of a much larger change. That the fate wasn’t declared in the dooms of Mandos shows that the entire concept of the Second Prophecy of Mandos was gone for good. This prophecy, which I described in brief here, told of the final days of Earth (along with a bunch of other pretty crazy shit). That was described at the very end of the Quenta from 1937. And by 1959’s Valaquenta, it was gone.10

And so and that ends our little study of the Valaquenta! Tune in next time for the start of Chapter One: Of the Beginning of Days, where we’ll only rehash a few of the things we’ve already rehashed! Don’t miss it!

Some Notes:

  • This was the first post I’ve written since finishing work on the Civil War blog. While I’ve been trying to keep things a bit lighter, this seems to be a little too serious. My apologies… though I did use the word “shit” to try and lighten the mood. Go me!
  • Nothing says torment like early 1900s dental equipment! And wish me luck… Dentist today. Ugh.



1. Book of Lost Tales, Vol. 2, p44, 67. That earlier story was “The Fall of Gondolin.”
2. The Lost Road, p359, 406.
3. The Shaping of Middle-earth, p79.
4. Morgoth’s Ring, p147, 203.
5. Book of Lost Tales, Vol. 1, p263.
6. See especially the second volume of the Book of Lost Tales,p 53 and others. Much of this information was gathered from The History of the Hobbit by John D. Rateliff, especially p81-84.
7. Book of Lost Tales, Vol. 2, p16, 53. Also, The Lays of Beleriand, p227-8, 232.
8. The Lost Road, p26, 30, 283, 290; See The Shaping of Middle-earth, p106 for the early description of Thû.
9. Morgoth’s Ring, p203-4.
10. The Lost Road, p333.

Pages & Text

  • Page 31 (and a tiny bit of 32)
  • Chapter: Valaquenta, Paragraphs 23-26
  • Starting with:
    “Last of all…”
  • Ending with:
    “…down into the void.”

6 thoughts on “The Dominion of Torment – Meeting the Bad Guys (Silmarillion Slow Cooker, p31)

    • He’s responsible for mucking up things well made. Teeth are well made, and so he’s responsible for their decay *specifically * so he could invent dentists. What a dick.

  1. I’m so glad that the whole Tevildo-cats-vs-dogs thing from the Book of Lost Tales disappeared so quickly. There were characters named Miaule and Miaugion…

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