The Oath of Feanor, the Silmarillion, pages 97-98:
Then Feanor swore a terrible oath. His seven
sons leapt straightaway to his side and took the selfsame vow together,
and red as blood shone their drawn swords in the glare of the torches.
They swore an oath which none shall break, and none should take, by even
the name of Iluvatar, calling the Everlasting Dark upon them if they kept
it not; and Manwe they named in witness, and Varda, and the hallowed mountain
of Taniquetil, vowing to pursue with vengeance and hatred to the ends
of the World Vala, Demon, Elf or Man as yet unborn, or any creature, great
or small, good or evil, that time should bring forth unto the end of days,
whoso should hold or take or keep a Silmaril from their possession.
Thus spoke Maedhros and Maglor and Celegorm, Curufin and Caranthir, Amrod
and Amras, princes of the Noldor; and many quailed to hear the dread words.
For so sworn, good or evil, an oath may not be broken, and it shall pursue
oathkeeper and oathbreaker to the world's end.
The Silmarillion, pages 103-104:
Tears unnumbered ye shall shed; and the Valar will fence Valinor against
you, and shut you out, so that not even the echo of your lamentation shall
pass over the moutains. On the House of Feanor the wrath of the Valar
lieth from the West unto the uttermost East, and upon all that will follow
them it shall be laid also. Their Oath shall drive them, and yet betray
them, and ever snatch away the very treasures that they have sworn to
pursue. To evil end shall all things turn that they begin well; and by
treason of kin unto kin and the fear of treason, shall this come to pass.
The Disposessed shall they be forever.
Ye have spilled the blood of your kindred unrighteously and have stained
the land of Aman. For blood ye shall render blood, and beyond Aman ye
shall dwell in Death's shadow. For though Eru appointed to you to die
not in Ea, and no sickness may assail you, yet slain ye may be, and slain
ye shall be: by weapon and by torment and grief; and your houseless spirits
shall come then to Mandos. There long shall ye abide and yearn for your
bodies, and find little pity though all whom ye have slain should entreat
for you. And those that endure in Middle-earth and come not to Mandos
shall grow weary of the world as with a great burden, and shall wane,
and become as shadows of regret before the younger race that cometh after.
The Valar have spoken.
This is the Doom of the Noldor, and it haunts them still.
Tolkien worked on The Silmarillion from 1916 until
his death in 1973, forever revising and rewriting it. It was eventually
published in 1977 by his son Christopher Tolkien after some work to tie
it all together. It starts with the Music of the Ainur, detailing the
music that created Arda and the first rebellions of Melkor, the mightiest
of the Valar, to the fateful words of Iluvatar (The Silmarillion, page
Therefore I say: Ea! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into
the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World,
and the World shall Be; and those of you that will may go down into it.
Also in the Music of the Ainur, is the first battles over Middle-Earth
in which the shaping of Arda was finished. The end of The Silmarillion
is also the end of the Third Age, with the entire history of the Rings
of Power that was recounted in part in the Council of Elrond though not
written there (The Lord of the Rings, page 259):
Then through all the years that followed he traced the Ring; but since
that history is elsewhere recounted, even as Elrond himself set it down
in his books of lore, it is not here recalled.
It is instead, in The Silmarillion.
beautiful things were achieved in the First and Second Ages of the Sun,
not the least of which, Gondolin (shown on the left) survived long, though
like much else eventually fell to Morgoth. Not only was much of beauty
achieved, but much of evil, too, as was said in the Doom of the Noldor,
which many believe to have been spoken by Mandos. Not the least of the
evil deeds include the Kinslaying at Alqualonde, from which many of the
later deeds were rooted, the slaughter of Dior, by the Sons of Feanor
and the breaking of the Ban of the Valar, by the Numenoreans in the Second
brave deeds were accomplished and many cowardly deeds too. Of the brave,
one of the best known includes the fight between Fingolfin, the High King
of the Noldor and Morgoth:
Therefore Morgoth came, climbing slowly from his subterranean throne,
and the rumor of his feet was like thunder underground. And he issued
forth clad in black armour; and he stood before the King like a tower,
iron-crowned, and his vast shield, sable unblazoned, cast a shadow over
him like a stormcloud. But Fingolfin gleamed beneath it as a star; for
his mail was overlaid with silver, and his blue shield was set with crystals;
and he drew his sword Ringil, that glittered like ice.
Then Morgoth hurled aloft Grond, the Hammer of the Underworld, and swung
it down like a bolt of thunder. But Fingolfin sprang aside, and Grond
rent a mighty pit in the earth whence smoke and fire darted. Many times
Morgoth essayed to smite him, and each time Fingolfin leaped away, as
a lighting shoots from under a dark cloud; and he wounded Morgoth with
seven wounds, and seven times Morgoth gave a cry of anguish, whereat the
hosts of Angband fell upon their faces in dismay, and the cries echoed
in the Northlands.
But at last the King grew weary, and Morgoth bore down his shield upon
him. Thrice he was crushed to his knees, and thrice arose again and bore
up his broken shield and stricken helm. But the earth was all rent and
pitted about him, and he stumbled and fell backward before the feet of
Morgoth; and Morgoth set his left foot upon his neck, and the weight of
it was like a fallen hill. Yet with his last and desperate stroke Fingolfin
hewed the foot with Ringil, and the blood gushed forth black and smoking
and filled the pits of Grond.
Thus died Fingolfin, High King of the Noldor, most proud and valiant of
the Elven-Kings of old. The Orcs made no boast of that duel at the gate;
neither do the Elves sing of it, for their sorrow is too deep.
The Silmarillion, pages 184-185.
The cowardly deeds include the two kinslayings. The first was at Alqualonde
when Feanor stole the white ships of the Teleri and the second was in
They came at unawares in the middle of winter, and fought with Dior
in the Thousand Caves; and so befell the second slaying of Elf by Elf.
There fell Celegorm by Dior's hand, and there fell Curufin, and dark Caranthir;
but Dior was slain also, and Nimloth his wife, and the cruel servants
of Celegorm seized his young sons and left them to starve in the forest.
Of this Maedhros indeed repented, and sought long for them in the woods
of Doriath; but his search was unavailing, and of the fate of Elured and
Elurin no tale tells.
The Silmarillion, page 286.
One of the most moving tales told in the Silmarillion is that of Beren
and Luthien. Given here is the brief version told in the Lord of the Rings
pages 208-209, though it is also told as the Lay of Lethian and The Gest
of Beren and Luthien in the Lays of Beleriand:
The leaves were long, the grass
The hemlock-umbels tall and fair,
And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering.
Tinúviel was dancing there
To music of a pipe unseen,
And light of stars was in her hair,
And in her raiment glimmering.
There Beren came from mountains cold,
And lost he wandered under leaves,
And where the Elven-river rolled
He walked alone and sorrowing.
He peered between the hemlock-leaves
And saw in wonder flowers of gold
Upon her mantle and her sleeves,
And her hair like shadow following.
Enchantment healed his weary feet
That over hills were doomed to roam;
And forth he hastened, strong and fleet,
And grasped at moonbeams glistening.
Through woven woods in Elvenhome
She lightly fled on dancing feet,
And left him lonely still to roam
In the silent forest listening.
He heard there oft the flying sound
Of feet as light as linden-leaves,
Or music welling underground,
In hidden hollows quavering.
Now withered lay the hemlock-sheaves,
And one by one with sighing sound
Whispering fell the beachen leaves
In the wintry woodland wavering.
He sought her ever, wandering far
Where leaves of years were thickly strewn,
By light of moon and ray of star
In frosty heavens shivering.
Her mantle glinted in the moon,
As on a hill-top high and far
She danced, and at her feet was strewn
A mist of silver quivering.
When winter passed, she came again,
And her song released the sudden spring
Like rising lark, and falling rain,
and melting water bubbling.
He saw the elven-flowers spring
About her feet, and healed again
He longed by her to dance and sing
Upon the grass untroubling.
Again she fled, but swift he came,
he called her by her elvish name;
And there she halted listening.
One mment stood she, and a spell
His voice laid on her: Beren came,
And doom fell on Tinúviel
That in his arms lay glistening.
As Beren looked into her eyes
Within the shadows of her hair,
The trembling starlight of her hair,
He saw there mirrored shimmering.
Tinúviel the elven-fair,
Immortal maiden elven-wise,
About him cast her shadowy hair
And arms like silver glimmering.
Long was the way that fate them bore,
O'er stony mountains cold and grey,
Through halls of iron and darkling door,
And woods of nightshade morrowless.
The Sundering Seas between them lay,
And yet at last they met once more,
And long ago they passed away
In the forest singing sorrowless.
The Silmarillion is the history of Middle-Earth from the creation of
Arda to the end of the Third Age. There are many tales that were recorded
by the Eldar and then told to Men who recorded them that we would not
otherwise know. These include the tales from the Ages of the Trees and
those of the creation of Arda as well as all of the tales predating the
Awakening of Men with the Rising of the Sun.