6

Obviously the council wouldn't have been advertised and I even remember that many of the attendees were there by chance, but what I'd like to know is: Was the Council of Elrond a secret council?

Was it officially considered so in-universe? Or did Tolkien ever refer to it as secret?

8

Yes

Although many of the attendees showed up at Rivendell by chance, access to the Council itself was invitation-only.

Frodo and Bilbo were both invited, but Sam was not (emphasis mine):

Suddenly as they were talking a single clear bell rang out. 'That is the warning bell for the Council of Elrond,' cried Gandalf. 'Come along now! Both you [Frodo] and Bilbo are wanted.'

Frodo and Bilbo followed the wizard quickly along the winding path back to the house; behind them, uninvited and for the moment forgotten, trotted Sam.

Fellowship of the Ring Book II Chapter 2: "The Council of Elrond"

And Elrond later calls the council "secret" when admonishing Sam for listening in, although he also doesn't seem terribly upset about it:

'But you won't send [Frodo] off alone surely, Master?' cried Sam, unable to contain himself any longer, and jumping up from the corner where he had been quietly sitting on the floor.

'No indeed!' said Elrond, turning towards him with a smile. 'You at least shall go with him. It is hardly possible to separate you from him, even when he is summoned to a secret council and you are not.'

Fellowship of the Ring Book II Chapter 2: "The Council of Elrond"

Later on, Pippin is rather upset about Sam's light treatment, further suggesting the secretive nature of the council:

Later that day the hobbits held a meeting of their own in Bilbo's room. Merry and Pippin were indignant when they heard that Sam had crept into the Council, and had been chosen as Frodo's companion.

'It's most unfair,' said Pippin. 'Instead of throwing him out, and clapping him in chains, Elrond goes and rewards him for his cheek!'

Fellowship of the Ring Book II Chapter 3: "The Ring Goes South"

  • Whilst I was writing this question I thought to myself: "I wonder what Jason Baker's answer will look like". Needless to say; +1 – Möoz Dec 17 '15 at 1:38
  • @Mooz As always, happy to help – Jason Baker Dec 17 '15 at 1:43
2

Just to add to the excellent answer above, it was a WAR council, and so by necessity secret from prying eyes.

The process of the council is significantly shortened. There are no or minimal references to the history of the Second Age, the Rings of Power, the current War, the politics of the races and the characters' backgrounds. The only characters who speak are the protagonists who will later form the Company of the Ring.source

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