Four Brethren Heroes of the Gondolindrim - Egalmoth, Ecthelion, Glorfindel and Legolas : A mythic and linguistic exploration

Wednesday Aug 07   04:30 PM to 05:00 PM (30 minutes)

Four brethren heroes beloved of the Gondolindrim first appeared in Tolkien’s 1916-1917 great lost tale and ‘first real story of his imagined world’ (Letters, p. 163) ‘The Fall of Gondolin’ as valiant defenders and protectors of the hidden city of Gondolin against the invading forces and siege of Melko and his army of wolves, Balrogs and Orcs. The names of these heroes - Egalmoth, Ecthelion, Glorfindel and Legolas are ones that would persist in other conceptual versions of the legend of the Fall of Gondolin which has now been published as a compendium volume edited by Christopher Tolkien as The Fall of Gondolin. Two of these names even re-appear (or perhaps are re-used) by Tolkien in his great work of the Third Age of Middle-earth - The Lord of the Rings.

In this paper I will explore the mythic and philological aspects of these valiant defenders of Gondolin and suggest some parallels to heroes drawn from some of the primary world Classical and Medieval works Tolkien would have known. I will also explore how Tolkien used his emerging Elvish language invention to construct names for these characters that matched his description of their nature and actions and show how Tolkien continued to niggle with the linguistic make up and perceived meaning attached to their names and natures throughout his life. I will also show how Tolkien elaborated on and deepened the historic meaning and memory of these four brethren in such para-textual world-building works as ‘The Name List to the Fall of Gondolin’ and other invented documents chronicling their valiant defence of the city doomed by fate to fall - Gondolin the City of Seven Names and the Flower of the Vale

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