RÓMENNA MEETING REPORT
Rómenna Meeting Report - January 14, 1984
January 14, 1984
Present:||Carol Mally (host)
Rómenna's first meeting of 1984 was also one of our largest ever (we tied
our record of eight attendees). The assembled Tolkien fans were able to delight
their senses in many ways: Carol Mally, our host for the evening, played a
tape that she had received with the latest issue of Ravenhill
the New England Tolkien Society); titled "Therindel and Daeron," it consisted
of two songs, "On Ravenhill: Gimli's Song of Parting" by Tom Osborne (Daeron),
and "Apples and Cherries: A Hobbit Drinking Song" by Martha Benedict (Therindel),
both of which were good; Per Hollander passed around beautifully rendered
coats of arms from the Swedish Tolkien Society of which he was a member, as
well as photographs of some of the members in costume; Eileen Campbell Gordon
of the Rivendell Bookshop wasn't able to be at the meeting, on account of being
too exhausted from manning a table at Esotericon all day, but she had sent
along copies of the British edition of The Book of Lost Tales
for two members
of the group, and that got passed around and drooled over (only figuratively!)
(Alexei had gotten and read his copy earlier in the week and kept referring to
it, to the exasperation of the rest of the assembly); and there were munchies,
chips and dips and dried fruit and mulled cider.
And in the midst of all this we even got around to discussing the assigned
chapter, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife." Carol started off the
discussion with the comment that Tolkien's women were never really human. Later
on it was stated that Tolkien was uncomfortable with women, and a passage from
one of the Letters
was read in which Tolkien gave his views on women. Some of
the differences he saw between men and women also come out in Erendis' speech
to her daughter Ancalimë, which appears in one of the notes to the chapter.
As for Aldarion, Alexei noted that he had "a weak father and a doting mother,"
and that according to the pop psychology of the '20's this should have
made him gay. There was some speculation as to what he was doing on that ship
for so long with all those other men. Margaret objected to the characterization
of Meneldur as "weak." Alexei amended that he was a weak father figure.
Aldarion turns to his mother's father, Vëantur, as a substitute father. He may
have been using Vëantur against his father, who didn't pay enough attention to
him. Other comments on Meneldur included the question "What did Númenorean
kings have to be strong about
(since they had no wars)?" and the observation
that Meneldur, as an astronomer, was as much an explorer, in his own way, as
More commentary on Aldarion centered around his attraction for the sea.
Per said that there is something special about the sea; he'd had four friends
who were lost at sea, but one keeps going back to it anyway. Aldarion's "sea-longing"
was contrasted with that of Tuor and Earendil. In their case it was
presented in a positive light, but for Aldarion it seems almost like a drug.
It was noted that Aldarion's ships keep getting bigger and bigger. What he
had was perhaps not so much "sea-longing" as sheer wanderlust. His parents
could never understand his urge simply to travel
, not for the purpose of seeing
new places but just for the sake of travel itself. It was observed that
Aldarion gathered a group of like-minded men around him with whom he shared
his activities (the Guild of Venturers). We decided that this was a very
fannish thing to do.
The relationship between Aldarion and Erendis is a study of a (particular)
unhappy marriage. Margaret made the comment that an interesting paper might
be written on Tolkien's views on love and marriage, given on the one side the
"ideal" shown in stories like those of Beren and Lúthien or Tuor and Idril, and
on the other side the relationships of Aredhel and Eöl, Aldarion and Erendis.
It was noted that Tolkien rarely depicts what we would call lust pure and
simple; the only example we could think of was Grima Wormtongue in The Lord of
, who lusted after Éowyn. The Elvish equivalent may be the sort of
possessiveness seen in characters like Eöl and Maeglin (who desired Idril).
It was pointed out that the lot of a mariner's wife really was a hard one,
personality problems aside: sea voyages were long (most of Aldarion's were a
matter of years at a time), and you never knew for sure that he would be coming
home at all. And of course there were the personality conflicts on top of that.
Aldarion was the kind of person who sees things (like trees) as means to his
own ends, where Erendis would prefer to appreciate them for themselves. Her
characterization of Men in her speech to Ancalimë could as well be used to describe
the attitude of the 19th-century explorers like Burton and Amundsen.
In this matter, especially as concerns trees, Tolkien seems to side with Erendis;
the episode of the trees given to the pair as a wedding gift bears out
this view, when the Elves tell Aldarion that they would not know whether the
wood is valuable or not, since they prize the trees for their beauty as living,
Aldarion and Erendis did love each other, though that love was slow to
develop. Romantic love as Tolkien saw it is a force capable of bringing two
such disparate people together, though it may not suffice to keep them together.
The treatment of the two wedding gifts once the marriage went on the
rocks gave some insight into the differing attitudes of husband and wife. Aldarion
originally saw the tree he was given in the "wrong" way, but later he
left it standing when all the other trees in his garden were hewed down. Erendis
was given the pair of Elven birds, which she cherished at first, but at
last sent away. This seems to symbolize that Aldarion at last would have liked
to save the marriage, whereas Erendis was ready to cast it away entirely.
Meneldur's reaction to Gil-Galad's letter was discussed. Besides the
moral dilemma with which it presented him, it also brought him face to face
with the realization that somebody appreciated Aldarion's voyages, that his
son really was doing something useful, that he was a responsible adult in his
own right, capable of making effective decisions and policies. Meneldur sees
that he has lost his sense of perspective, and, feeling himself unfitted to the
task of dealing with the problems presented by the letter, hands over the
Scepter to Aldarion.
Ancalimë, the daughter of Aldarion and Erendis, also came in for discussion.
Carol said she felt bad for her, with the rotten family situation she was
brought up in. Her name means "great light" or "very bright," a typically
Elvish way of saying that she was very beautiful. Because of the conflict
between her parents she spent her early years among women and sheep. At one
point she sees a boy and asks, "What is that noisy thing?" Later on she was
spoiled by her father (after he had taken over her upbringing), but she never
loved him, though he loved her--he just didn't show it early enough. She
grew up cold and hard, and eventually made a rather miserable marriage of her
own in which she bullied her husband and he got back at her as he could. She
became the first Ruling Queen of Númenor (just in time to spite her cousin
Soronto), and after Aldarion's death neglected all his policies and sent no
more aid to Gil-Galad.
Miscellaneous linguistic observations: Erendis and the other Western
Númenoreans habitually spoke Elvish. Aldarion preferred Adûnaic. In Emerië,
where Erendis had her secluded house, however, they also seem to have spoken
Adûnaic; at least, the local people all seem to have Adûnaic names. Whether
these details have any significance could not be determined.
The tale of Aldarion and Erendis ends with the cryptic comment that
"Erendis perished in the water." Whether she jumped or was pushed or what,
is not made clear. We all agreed that it was a depressing tale, which may
be one reason for the frequent digressions that didn't get put into this report,
but which were many and varied.
-- reported by Margaret Purdy
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