Eärendil the Mariner (pronounced [ɛaˈrɛndil]) is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is depicted in The Silmarillion as a great seafarer who, on his brow, carried the morning star across the sky.
Eärendil means 'Lover of the Sea' in Tolkien's invented language of Quenya. However, Tolkien borrowed the name from Old English literature. Tolkien states (Letters, 297) that the name comes from Anglo-Saxon éarendel. He was struck by its "great beauty" c. 1913, which he perceived as
entirely coherent with the normal style of A-S, but euphonic to a peculiar degree in that pleasing but not 'delectable' language.
There is a poem by Tolkien dated to 1914 entitled "The Voyage of Eärendel the Evening Star" (published in The Book of Lost Tales 2 267–269). Tolkien was also aware of the name's Germanic cognates (Old Norse Aurvandill, Lombardic Auriwandalo), and the question why the Anglo-Saxon one rather than the Lombardic or Proto-Germanic form should be taken up in the mythology is alluded to in The Notion Club Papers. The Old Norse together with the Anglo-Saxon evidence point to an astronomical myth, the name referring to a star, or a group of stars, and the Anglo-Saxon in particular points to the morning star as the herald of the rising Sun (in Crist Christianized to refer to John the Baptist).
Tolkien was particularly inspired by the lines in Crist,
which can be taken as the inspiration not only for the role of Eärendil in Tolkien's work, but also for the term Middle-earth (translating Middangeard) for the inhabitable lands (c.f. Midgard).
The first line is paralleled by Frodo Baggins' exclamation in Return of the King, "Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima!" which is Quenya, and translates to "Hail Eärendil, brightest of stars!" Frodo's exclamation was in reference to the 'Star-glass' he carried, which contained the light of Eärendil's star, the Silmaril.
Tolkien's legend of Eärendil has elements resembling the medieval Celtic Immram legends or the Christian legend of St. Brendan the Navigator.
Full article ▸