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The Arkenstone

PotBelliedGeek
Posts: 4,298
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1/3/2015 3:52:18 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Nerdiness alert! If you are not a supernerd, dont bother reading this post, you wont enjoy it. You have been warned.

For many, many years there has been a debate among Tolkien nerds as to the true source of the Arkenstone. It is obviously a magic item, what with its internal glow, unnatural allure, and its apparent indestructibly. In Arda there is only one true source of magic (The Valar and whomever they chose among the Maiar to wield power), and thus anything of magical nature is of great importance in Middle-Earth.

So what, then, is the Arkenstone? It has been said to be the lost Silmaril of Maedhros, the mighty Elf-Lord who cast himself into a fiery chasm after the War of Wrath and the Great Sundering. This certainly seems plausible, especially considering the fact that Erebor (where the Arkenstone was found) was indeed a volcano at one point. This theory certainly accounts for the magical properties of the Arkenstone.

Here are my two cents on this theory.

The Arkenstone cannot in any way be the lost Silmaril of Maedhros. Here is why:

1. All of the Silmarils were lost upon the compilation of these events, which occurred in the Fourth Age of Arda [Return of the King, Appendix B].

The very first mention of the Silmarils describes them "The fairest of all gems... and they are lost" [silmarillion,HMH 2001 2nd ed, p. 39]

The Silmarils were lost, each in the manner described by the prophecy of Maedhros, and cannot be found again until Morgoth discovers the weakness in the Door of Night and the advent of Dagor Dagorath, "Whence the world will be broken and remade again" [The history of Middle Earth and The Children of Hurin]

2. Unlike the Silmarils, dwarvs and men can touch and hold the Arkenstone.

Dwarves and men are mortal, and since "Varda hallowed the Silmarils, so that thereafter no mortal flesh nor hands unclean nor anything of evil will might touch them, but it was scorched and withered" [silmarillion,HMH 2001 2nd ed, p. 67], it follows that no man nor dwarf can touch a Silmaril without experiencing the most excruciating and destructive pain known to mortal flesh.

3. The dwarves shaped the Arkenstone to fit into the crown of the King Under the Mountain. This in and of itself proves that the Arkenstone could NOT have been a silmaril, because the silmarils cannot be cut, shaped, or broken by any save Yavanna herself.

"Like the crystal of diamonds it appeared, and yet was more strong than adamant, so that no violence could mar it or break it within the Kingdom of Arda. [silmarillion,HMH 2001 2nd ed, p. 67]

And yet, after all this, the Arkenstone still bears an uncanny resemblance to the three great Silmarils, and it merely explains what the Arkenstone is not, and sheds no light on what it actually is.

I can find nothing in the works of Tolkien besides what has already been discussed that would help in any way, except for one short statement regarding the making of the silmarils in chapter 7 of the Silmarillion: Then [Feanor] began a long and secret labour, and he summoned all his lore, and his power, and his subtle skill; and at the end of all he made the Silmarils."

One would think that for a labor of such length, skill, and subtlety, one cannot possibly produce a Silmaril on the first attempt. No, there must have been other gems made by Feanor, gems upon which Feanor could practice his techniques before attemting to make the Silmarils. These gems would have to be magic of nature, similar in structure and and function to the Silmarils, and yet free of the Blessing of Varda. In short, those gems would match perfectly with the Arkenstone.

In conclusion, I believe that the Arkenstone, while not the lost Silmaril of Maedhros, is indeed a Silmaril prototype of Feanors handiwork, though I have not the slightest of an idea how it survived four long ages, was missed by Ungoliant, and ended up buried deep within the heart of the Lonely Mountain.
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Vox_Veritas
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1/3/2015 10:01:54 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Wow. That is a bit nerdy, even by my standards.
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RevNge
Posts: 13,835
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1/4/2015 5:45:12 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/4/2015 5:43:22 PM, PotBelliedGeek wrote:
Nobody? Not even bsh1?

LOL

I think Bsh is taking a break.
Skepsikyma
Posts: 8,289
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1/26/2015 5:45:31 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/3/2015 3:52:18 PM, PotBelliedGeek wrote:
Nerdiness alert! If you are not a supernerd, dont bother reading this post, you wont enjoy it. You have been warned.

For many, many years there has been a debate among Tolkien nerds as to the true source of the Arkenstone. It is obviously a magic item, what with its internal glow, unnatural allure, and its apparent indestructibly. In Arda there is only one true source of magic (The Valar and whomever they chose among the Maiar to wield power), and thus anything of magical nature is of great importance in Middle-Earth.

So what, then, is the Arkenstone? It has been said to be the lost Silmaril of Maedhros, the mighty Elf-Lord who cast himself into a fiery chasm after the War of Wrath and the Great Sundering. This certainly seems plausible, especially considering the fact that Erebor (where the Arkenstone was found) was indeed a volcano at one point. This theory certainly accounts for the magical properties of the Arkenstone.

Here are my two cents on this theory.


The Arkenstone cannot in any way be the lost Silmaril of Maedhros. Here is why:

1. All of the Silmarils were lost upon the compilation of these events, which occurred in the Fourth Age of Arda [Return of the King, Appendix B].

The very first mention of the Silmarils describes them "The fairest of all gems... and they are lost" [silmarillion,HMH 2001 2nd ed, p. 39]

The Silmarils were lost, each in the manner described by the prophecy of Maedhros, and cannot be found again until Morgoth discovers the weakness in the Door of Night and the advent of Dagor Dagorath, "Whence the world will be broken and remade again" [The history of Middle Earth and The Children of Hurin]

2. Unlike the Silmarils, dwarvs and men can touch and hold the Arkenstone.

Dwarves and men are mortal, and since "Varda hallowed the Silmarils, so that thereafter no mortal flesh nor hands unclean nor anything of evil will might touch them, but it was scorched and withered" [silmarillion,HMH 2001 2nd ed, p. 67], it follows that no man nor dwarf can touch a Silmaril without experiencing the most excruciating and destructive pain known to mortal flesh.

3. The dwarves shaped the Arkenstone to fit into the crown of the King Under the Mountain. This in and of itself proves that the Arkenstone could NOT have been a silmaril, because the silmarils cannot be cut, shaped, or broken by any save Yavanna herself.

"Like the crystal of diamonds it appeared, and yet was more strong than adamant, so that no violence could mar it or break it within the Kingdom of Arda. [silmarillion,HMH 2001 2nd ed, p. 67]



And yet, after all this, the Arkenstone still bears an uncanny resemblance to the three great Silmarils, and it merely explains what the Arkenstone is not, and sheds no light on what it actually is.

I can find nothing in the works of Tolkien besides what has already been discussed that would help in any way, except for one short statement regarding the making of the silmarils in chapter 7 of the Silmarillion: Then [Feanor] began a long and secret labour, and he summoned all his lore, and his power, and his subtle skill; and at the end of all he made the Silmarils."

One would think that for a labor of such length, skill, and subtlety, one cannot possibly produce a Silmaril on the first attempt. No, there must have been other gems made by Feanor, gems upon which Feanor could practice his techniques before attemting to make the Silmarils. These gems would have to be magic of nature, similar in structure and and function to the Silmarils, and yet free of the Blessing of Varda. In short, those gems would match perfectly with the Arkenstone.

In conclusion, I believe that the Arkenstone, while not the lost Silmaril of Maedhros, is indeed a Silmaril prototype of Feanors handiwork, though I have not the slightest of an idea how it survived four long ages, was missed by Ungoliant, and ended up buried deep within the heart of the Lonely Mountain.

My favorite pet theory has always been that it was a piece of Illuin, one of the Lamps of the Valar. It created the Sea of Helcar when it fell, which some theorize eventually shrunk into the Sea of Rhun, which isn't that far from the Lonely Mountain. I think that with the upheaval following the destruction of Beleriand, it's perfectly possible that a fragment could have ended up at the heart of the Lonely Mountain. Seeing as the lamps were fashioned by the Valar themselves, a piece would certainly look otherworldly.
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- Hilaire Belloc -