Though we’re technically moving onto the next page in the Silmarillion, this post is basically a continuation of the previous, concluding the Dwarf-section of the “Of Aulë and Yavanna” chapter.
When we last left Aulë, he had made the Dwarves, given them speech, but could not give them wills of their own. Ilúvatar, who knew what Aulë was up to, told him as much. When Aulë offered to destroy the newly-made Dwarves, he lifted up his hammer and the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves were afraid and begged for mercy.
This was a dead giveaway that they actually did have wills of their own. “Else they would not have flinched from thy blow, nor from any command of thy will,” Ilúvatar explained to him. As I read it, Ilúvatar had already given being to the Dwarves before Aulë asked them to be blessed.
But though Ilúvatar had adopted them, they could not be awakened before the Elves and Men, so Aulë “laid them to rest in far-sundered places” and waited for that day to come.
Returning to the History
We last left off the writing history with Lord of the Rings. So far, we’ve seen the origin evolve from simple unknowing on the Elves’ part, to Dwarves having no indwelling spirits, and finally to the introduction of Aulë’s role. What we’ve not seen thus far is the introduction of Ilúvatar and the “far-sundered” sleep of the Dwarves.
In 1950, After writing Lord of the Rings, during which Tolkien must have mulled some of this over, he dipped back into Quenta. Over the next two years, he explored the entire legendarium with the new material carried over from Lord of the Rings, which wouldn’t be published until 1954. For a long time, he worked on the Turin Turambar story, but returned again to the Quenta proper in 1958.
This was when he created a new chapter called “Of the Naugrim and the Edain” with two sections – “Concerning the Dwarves” and “Of the Edain.” While the latter became the “Of Men” chapter in the published Silmarillion, the former was used as the basis for the first part of “Of Aulë and Yavanna.”
But it’s still not here where we get our story. In this iteration, we get only a brief glimpse of Aulë’s role – that of maker. Their actual origin isn’t discussed, but their fate was given through two points of view. The Elves held that the Dwarves simply returned to stone (an idea we’ve heard before), while the Dwarves believed “that Aulë cares for them and gathered them in Mandos in halls set apart from them, and there they wait, not in idleness but in the practice of crafts and the learning of yet deeper lore.” Their ultimate fate is to help Aulë in the remaking of Arda after the Last Battle. (War of the Jewels, p204)
Here’s to Swimmin’ with Bowlegged Women
According to Lord of the Rings, there aren’t many Dwarvish women, and you can’t really tell them from the men anyway. Tolkien wrote that in the early 1950s, and returned to that idea after its publication in the Appendices.
While this is stated in the aforementioned “Concerning the Dwarves” draft, we also learn that the womenfolk “go not to war, and seldom save at direst need issue from their deep bowers and halls. It is said, also, that their womenkind are few, and that save their kings and chieftains few Dwarves ever wed; wherefore their race multiplied slowly, and now is dwindling.”
It was explained in a one-off note that since Aulë could not finish his work, the Dwarvish women looked the same as the men. In another version, he made the Seven Fathers, and then six of the female forms, “and then he wearied.” Still another included mates for all seven. Yet still another, all have mates except the eldest male. (War of the Jewels, p211)
Tolkien abandoned the idea of an origin for the female Dwarves, as can be seen in the published Silmarillion.
Back to the Silmarillion
To compile the Dwarvish bits of the “Of Aulë and Yavanna” chapter, Christopher Tolkien pieced the story together from a few sources. The first three paragraphs came from notes somewhat attached to the Quenta drafts, copy and pasting much of it. For the rest, he turned to the same 1958 Quenta draft, as well as a line or two from the “Grey Annals,” and updated version of the Annals of Beleriand, from the early 1950s.
Curiously enough, the “Grey Annals” draft, fully an Elvish text, maintains that the origin of the Dwarves was unknown, and gives the Dwarvish version as a sort of aside. (War of the Jewels, p203-4, 10)
Aulë is Totally Not Melkor
It’s been suggested by others that the Dwarves had being and wills of their own before Ilúvatar stepped in. They’ll use this to say that since Aulë could create life, Melkor could create it too! And they use that to say that things like Balrogs and Orcs were fully Melkor’s own creation with wills of their own.
But a careful(ish) reading tells us that Ilúvatar was speaking as if he had already given “being to the thoughts” of the Dwarves before telling Aulë that he had done so. This also makes the argument that at least some of the monsters made by Melkor were creatures without being (without a “soul”) who could live only by Melkor’s being and will. And while Aulë “did not desire such lordship,” Melkor certainly did.
- Tolkien would return to the Dwarves in 1968ish, but would mostly focus upon the language and interactions with Men. (Peoples, p295-330)
- Next up – The Ents! And another crazy-ass writing history.
Pages & Text
- Page 44 (and a sliver of 43)
- Chapter: Of Aulë and Yavanna, Paragraphs 4-7
- Starting with:
“Then Aulë took up a great hammer to smite the Dwarves…”
- Ending with:
“…whose mansions were at Khazad-dûm.”