The Wedding of Tuor and Idril
illustration by Tom Loback
|Book(s)||The Silmarillion, The Book of Lost Tales(The Fall of Gondolin)|
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Idril Celebrindal is a fictional character in English author J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. She appears in one of his chief works of literature, The Silmarillion, published posthumously by Christopher Tolkien, as an elvish princess.
Idril Celebrindal ("silver-foot") was the only child of Turgon, whose wife Elenwë died at the Helcaraxë. She was the wife of Tuor, and the mother of Eärendil the Mariner, who later sailed to Valinor and brought about the War of Wrath in which Morgoth was finally defeated. Together with Angrod's son Orodreth and Curufin's son Celebrimbor, she was one of the three Noldor in the third generation of the House of Finwë to come into exile. Idril was loved in secret by her cousin Maeglin, the son of Eöl the Dark Elf and Aredhel, Turgon's sister. She scorned his advances, however, because of his dark character as well as the fact that they were too closely related.
In Tolkien's fictional language of Sindarin, the name Idril was a form of the name Itarillë (or Itarildë), which means 'sparkling brilliance' in Quenya, another of Tolkien's invented languages. Tolkien also used the short form Itaril. The name Celebrindal means 'Silverfoot': according to the early Sketch of the Mythology (the first version of the Silmarillion from 1926), she was so named 'for the whiteness of her foot; and she walked and danced ever unshod in the white ways and green lawns of Gondolin." Tolkien describes her thus in this text: 'Very fair and tall was she, well nigh of warrior's stature, and her hair was a fountain of gold.' Christopher Tolkien comments that this description may be the prototype of that of Galadriel. (This is also present in the earliest form of the story The Fall of Gondolin, in which 'the people called her Idril of the Silver Feet in that she went ever barefoot and bareheaded, king's daughter as she was, save only at pomps of the Ainur'; then she is called Talceleb or Taltelepta).
When the mortal man Tuor, son of Huor, arrived in the Elvish city of Gondolin as a messenger of the Vala Ulmo, he immediately fell in love with the King's daughter Idril and she with him. In contrast to the first union of Elves and Men, which came about through much hardship and unimaginable sacrifice, Tuor and Idril were allowed to marry without difficulty. This was because King Turgon had grown to love Tuor as a son (as he had his father before), and remembering the last words of Huor which prophesied that a "star" would arise out of both his and Turgon's lineage which would redeem the Children of Ilúvatar from Morgoth. Turgon permitted Idril and Tuor to wed, thus bringing about the second union of Men and Elves, after Beren and Lúthien. Their wedding was celebrated with great mirth and joy and of their love was born in Gondolin Eärendil the Mariner, who was to become the saviour of Elves and Men and their mediator to the Valar. Afterwards Idril had a secret passage built, known as Idril's Secret Way, and thus enabled many to escape the Fall of Gondolin.
When Tuor came, carrying Ulmo's warning of the danger to Gondolin, Maeglin the King's nephew sat on the right hand of Turgon and argued against Tuor. Tuor's marriage with Idril further incensed Maeglin, who rebelled against Turgon and Tuor. Later, seeking after metals, Maeglin defied Turgon's order to stay within the mountains, and was captured by Orcs and brought to Angband. Morgoth promised both Gondolin and Idril in return for the location of the hidden city, thus luring Maeglin into the greatest treachery done in the Elder Days. He gave him a token that would (allegedly) keep him safe from the sack.
Maeglin returned to Gondolin saying nothing about his encounter, but many people noticed a change. Most thought it was for the better, though Idril suspected something and began work on Idril's Secret Way. He managed to turn some of the weaker (such as Salgant) and the roguish to his side. During Gondolin's fall when the hosts of Morgoth surrounded the city, Maeglin counselled Turgon against flight, and because of his place in the King's heart (and with the aid of Salgant), he swayed him to his advantage. Later Maeglin took hold of both Idril and her son and threatened to murder the child by throwing him over the edge of the city walls. However Tuor fought with him and after a vicious battle defeated Maeglin and thrust him over the edge to his death.
After the fall of Gondolin, Idril and Tuor became leaders of the exiles at the Mouths of Sirion, where they also received Elwing daughter of Dior son of Beren and Lúthien.
When Tuor grew old he departed in his ship for the West, and Idril went with him. It is believed by the Elves and Dúnedain that Idril and Tuor arrived in Valinor, bypassing the Ban of the Valar, and that Tuor was reckoned in the kindred of the Elves, so that Tuor and Idril now live in Valinor.
In an early and undeveloped version of the "Fall of Gondolin" published in the second part of The Book of Lost Tales the love story and marriage of Idril and Tuor is given as the first union of Elves and Men rather than the second. This was because at this time Tolkien regarded both Beren and Lúthien as being Elves. Although there are many differences between the narrative and its later predecessor, the characters of Idril and Tuor are basically consistent in many respects to how they are presented in The Silmarillion and later literature.
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- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1996), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Peoples of Middle-earth, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "The Shibboleth of Fëanor"., ISBN 0-395-82760-4
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1986), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Shaping of Middle-earth, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, The Earliest 'Silmarillion', ISBN 0-395-42501-8
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1984), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Book of Lost Tales, 2, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, The Fall of Gondolin, ISBN 0-395-36614-3
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1977), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Silmarillion, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin", ISBN 0-395-25730-1
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1977), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Silmarillion, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-25730-1
- "Idril". Tolkien Gateway.
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