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Then one arose in the host of Olwë, which was ever the hindmost on the road; Lenwë he was called. He forsook the westward march, and led away a numerous people, southwards down the great river, and they passed out of the knowledge of their kin until long years were past. Those were the Nandor; and they became a people apart, unlike their kin, save that they loved water, and dwelt most beside falls and running streams. Greater knowledge they had of living things, tree and herb, bird and beast, than all other Elves. In after years Denethor, son of Lenwë, turned again west at last, and led a part of that people over the mountains into Beleriand ere the rising of the Moon.

We know what became of the other Nandor who journeyed with Lenwë's son - Denethor (who became the Green elves)

But what became of Lenwë and his people?
Was he the beginning of what is now known as the Silvan Elves?
Does "southwards down the great river" mean Lorien? (Most of the Elves who dwelt in Lorien were Silvan Elves) Was Lenwë the leader of these people until Amdír (a Noldor) came and took over as King of the Silvan Elves.

The Silvan Elves (Tawarwaith) were in origin Teleri, and so remoter kin of the Sindar, though even longer separated from them than the Teleri of Valinor. They were descended from those of the Teleri who, on the Great Journey, were daunted by the Misty Mountains and lingered in the Vale of Anduin, and so never reached Beleriand or the Sea. They were thus closer akin to the Nandor (otherwise called the Green-elves) of Ossiriand, who eventually crossed the mountains and came at last into Beleriand.

Also, when was this reuniting of kin after "long years were past"? And were all Nandor who did not cross the Misty Mountains (such as Lenwë) then called Silvan Elves?

Sorry for the multu-faceted question. Any insight would be greatly appreciated as the migration of elves can be confusing to me at times

  • There is no further mention, the story follows Denethor and the Laegrim – Edlothiad Jan 19 '17 at 17:53
  • It may not mention Lenwë specifically again, but is there any other possibility of known elven populations which Lenwë could have led? – Tom B. Jan 19 '17 at 17:55
  • I'll keep looking, but i'm just finding dead ends. There's another pair of people who may come along later that are far more knowledgeable than I am. – Edlothiad Jan 19 '17 at 17:56
  • Just to confirm, you only want to know about the people who didn't cross the misty mountains with Denethor, and became the Laegrim/Laiquendi/Green-elves? – Edlothiad Jan 19 '17 at 17:58
  • Yes, but I believe I found it. pg. 104 Silmarillion, it is a long quote on: some [of his people] it is said dwelt in the vale, some settled by the mouths of the river, some came to Eriador etc – Tom B. Jan 19 '17 at 18:04
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Yes, the remaining Nandor became the Silvan

Unfinished Tales discusses this:

The Silvan Elves (Tawarwaith) were in origin Teleri, and so remoter kin of the Sindar, though even longer separated from them than the Teleri of Valinor. They were descended from those of the Teleri who, on the Great Journey, were daunted by the Misty Mountains and lingered in the Vale of Anduin, and so never reached Beleriand or the Sea. They were thus closer akin to the Nandor (otherwise called the Green-elves) of Ossiriand, who eventually crossed the mountains and came at last into Beleriand.

Unfinished Tales Part 2: "The Second Age" Appendix A The Silvan Elves and their Speech

The use of the word "became" is a bit misleading, though, because it's just another name for essentially the same group of people; it's a taxonomic distinction only. So in that sense, yes: all of the Nandor who never crossed into Beleriand became the Silvan, because that's how we define the word "Silvan."

This is discussed in much greater detail over at Is there more than 1 species of elf in the Hobbit/LOTR saga?.

The above passage also makes it clear that "the Great River" refers not to the Gladden exactly, but to the Anduin; this is usually a good guess when you hear the phrase "the great river," but it's also clear by looking at the two major Silvan population centers (Lothlórien in red, Mirkwood in blue), which are aligned along the River Anduin (highlighted in green; click to embiggen):

enter image description here

The ultimate fate of Lenwë is not discussed, but it's likely that he eventually died; we know that some Silvan colonies (specifically those in Greenwood and Lothlórien) would be ruled by Sindar or Noldor in later Ages, and it seems odd that this would be required if the Silvan already had a perfectly good leadership structure.

  • Thanks, Also I found page 104 of the silmarillion (of the Sindar) there are a few paragraphs on where his people went (it is said they went down the river, into the white mountains, mouths of the Anduin, Eriador etc) – Tom B. Jan 19 '17 at 23:17
  • Also you mentioned the two major silvan population centers; are there any other that we know about? besides the possibility of elves in Amroth – Tom B. Jan 19 '17 at 23:18
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The history of the Elves is complicated enough from what we do know, and what we don't know is probably much greater. I agree that if Lenwe had survived the 1st Age he would cropped up in the history of the 2nd Age.

Which begs three questions which we cannot answer.

  1. How did he die? Well we know Elves do not die of sickness, so that leaves accident or he was killed. If killed, who by:Elves, Men,Dwarves creatures of Melkor or wild beasts?
  2. Where did he die? Was it in Rhovanion, Gondor, Mordor perhaps or was he the leader of the Elves that made it into Eriador: after all passing down the Anduin the Nandor would have come to Calenardhon and could have by passed the Misty Mountains by the Gap of Rohan.
  3. When did he die? Before or after the return of the Noldor to Middle Earth? Which begs the question what was the role of Denethor. When was he born, before the turning aside of the Nandor or after? If before, did he always disagree with his father's actions and thus chose to cross into Beleriand when he could, probably after his father's death? Even if he did, not all the Nandor went with him.

So what happened to the Nandor?

Well, those that chose not to cross the Blue Mountains would have been spread across the lands of Rhovanion and Eriador. Unfortunately we know little of the peoples of these areas whether Elves or Men. It is likely that the wars of the 2nd Age would have driven those that remained into Greenwood the Great ruled from Amon Lanc with a satellite realm in what would become Lothlorien.

The Elves of the White mountains would have dwindled slowly not becoming extinct until the haven at Edhellond ceased to be used. Which raises another point. We know that some of the Sindar sailed to Valinor from Edhellond, could some the Nandor or even Avari have done so.

As for the nature of Silvan Elves, these could well have included some of the Avari. They may not have wanted to risk the journey to Valinor, but there is no reason to think that they did not spread away Cuvienen and some must have come west until they reached Greenwood.

Unfortunately there are too many questions and too few answers.

  • Hi there! This is one big block of text, ahah. Maybe you could edit it to group info together and remove the questiony parts that do not directly address the matter at stake? If you have new questions, I suggest your browse the help center too see how stuff works, particularly How to Ask. Cheers! – Jenayah Sep 8 '18 at 1:00
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    I suggest editing the question to say what actually became of Lenwë (rather than a list of thing that might have happened) and what what became of the Nandor who stayed with him. Providing quotes from the canon would help and splitting the answer into paragraphs would make it more readable. – Blackwood Sep 8 '18 at 1:37

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