Uniformly at Random

Aldarion and Erendis

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One of my favourite works by Tolkien is the tale of “Aldarion and Erendis” from Unfinished Tales.  It is notable for several reasons.  It is the only story (i.e., not counting annals and other such records) of Numenor to survive the downfall.  It is also quite unique in content among Tolkien’s writings.  It is not a story of a difficult quest to destroy a great evil, nor is it a tale of heroes slaying monsters, or of spectacular battles between huge armies, but it is instead the tragic story of the failure of a marriage.

Aldarion, heir to throne of Numenor, had been drawn to the sea from an early age.  Seafaring was his passion, and he sailed forth on long and frequent sea voyages between Numenor to Middle-earth, to the great displeasure of his father.  He meets Erendis, a woman of high birth, and the two fall in love.  After some time, Aldarion courts her in earnest and the two are betrothed.  During the long course of their betrothal, and subsequently during their marriage, Aldarion continued to set out to sea, often leading to absences of many years.  This leads to the increasing estrangement of the couple.  Eventually, Erendis leaves their home, taking her daughter Ancalime with her.  When Aldarion returns from sea and seeks out his wife and daughter, they have a rather unpleasant exchange:

Later he would summon Erendis to bring his daughter to Armenelos, and not have dealings with her upon her own ground.  But as he went out towards the doors Erendis came forward.  She had not lain in bed that night, and she stood before him on the threshold.

‘You leave more promptly than you came, my lord,’ she said.  ‘I hope that (being a mariner) you have not found this house of women irksome already, to go thus before your business is done.  Indeed what business brought you hither?  May I learn it before you leave?’

‘I was told in Armenelos that my wife was here, and had removed my daughter hither,’ he answered.  ‘As to the wife I am mistaken, it seems, but have I not a daughter?’

‘You had one some years ago,’ she said.  ‘But my daughter has not yet risen.’

‘Then let her rise, while I go for my horse,’ said Aldarion.

The tale is unfortunately incomplete; the latter portion consists of scattered notes mostly concerning Aldarion’s daughter Ancalime, who would become, as his only child, his heir, and eventually Queen of Numenor.


Written by uncudh

December 10, 2008 at 6:58 pm

Posted in literature

Tagged with ,

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