8

When Frodo travels to Shelob's Lair, what does he say when he pulls out the vial (English)?

Frodo gazed in wonder at this marvellous gift that he had so long carried, not guessing its full worth and potency. Seldom had he remembered it on the road, until they came to Morgul Vale, and never had he used it for fear of its revealing light. Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima! he cried, and knew not what he had spoken; for it seemed that another voice spoke through his, clear, untroubled by the foul air of the pit.

The Two Towers - Chapter 9: Shelob's Lair

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    The common tongue is not English. Also this is a very easy google job. – Edlothiad May 3 '17 at 20:10
  • Smell my cheese? – Paul D. Waite May 4 '17 at 9:19
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    @Edlothiad, As are most questions on this forum... – user35594 May 7 '17 at 12:50
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"Hail Eärendil, brightest of stars!"

Frodo is referring to the star-glass he carried, which contained the light of Eärendil's star, the Silmaril.

You might be interested to see the Gateway pages referring to Quenya, Tolkien's language, and Earendil, the Mariner.

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    Can you clarify how you came up with this? – user31178 May 3 '17 at 19:57
  • Common knowledge, a quick google job, you pick – Edlothiad May 3 '17 at 20:02
  • Google is your friend. – gef05 May 3 '17 at 20:02
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    I'm still trying to find an official source from Tolkien, it's probably in Parma Eldalamberon 17 but mines not searchable – Edlothiad May 3 '17 at 20:10
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    @Edlothiad Letter 297 – Jason Baker May 3 '17 at 20:16
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This is explained in JRR Tolkien's letter #211 to a Mrs Beare.

Q. What is the meaning of this invocation, and of Frodo’s words in the previous chapter, ‘Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima!’?

A. Before 1914 I wrote a ‘poem’ upon Earendel who launched his ship like a bright spark from the havens of the Sun. I adopted him into my mythology – in which he became a prime figure as a mariner, and eventually as a herald star, and a sign of hope to men. Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima (II 329) ‘hail Earendil brightest of Stars’ is derived at long remove from Éala Éarendel engla beorhtast.

- Edited for clarity


He goes into far more detail about the translation (and meaning) in his Letter #297, "Drafts for a letter to ‘Mr Rang’"

Before 1914 I wrote a ‘poem’ upon Earendel who launched his ship like a bright spark from the havens of the Sun. I adopted him into my mythology – in which he became a prime figure as a mariner, and eventually as a herald star, and a sign of hope to men. Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima (II 329) ‘hail Earendil brightest of Stars’ is derived at long remove from Éala Éarendel engla beorhtast. But the name could not be adopted just like that: it had to be accommodated to the Elvish linguistic situation, at the same time as a place for this person was made in legend. From this, far back in the history of ‘Elvish’, which was beginning, after many tentative starts in boyhood, to take definite shape at the time of the name’s adoption, arose eventually (a) the C.E. stem ^AYAR ‘Sea’fn117, primarily applied to the Great Sea of the West, lying between Middle-earth, and Aman the Blessed Realm of the Valar; and (b) the element, or verbal base (N)DIL, ‘to love, be devoted to’ – describing the attitude of one to a person, thing, course or occupation to which one is devoted for its own sake.fn118 Earendil became a character in the earliest written (1916–17) of the major legends: The Fall of Gondolin, the greatest of the Pereldar ‘Half-elven’, son of Tuor of the most renowned House of the Edain, and Idril daughter of the King of Gondolin. Tuor had been visited by Ulmo one of the greatest Valar, the lord of seas and waters, and sent by him to Gondolin. The visitation had set in Tuor’s heart an insatiable sea-longing, hence the choice of name for his son, to whom this longing was transmitted. For the linking of this legend with the other major legends: the making of the Silmarils by Fëanor, their seizure by Morgoth, and the recapture of one only from his crown by Beren and Lúthien, and the coming of this into Earendil’s possession so that his voyages westward were at last successful, see I 204–6 and 246–249. (The attempt of Eärendil to cross Ëar was against the Ban of the Valar prohibiting all Men to attempt to set foot on Aman, and against the later special ban prohibiting the Exiled Elves, followers of the rebellious Fëanor, from return: referred to in Galadriel’s lament. The Valar listened to the pleading of Eärendil on behalf of Elves and Men (both his kin), and sent a great host to their aid. Morgoth was overthrown and extruded from the World (the physical universe). The Exiles were allowed to return – save for a few chief actors in the rebellion of whom at the time of the L.R. only Galadriel remained.fn119 But Eärendil, being in part descended from Men, was not allowed to set foot on Earth again, and became a Star shining with the light of the Silmaril, which contained the last remnant of the unsullied light of Paradise, given by the Two Trees before their defilement and slaying by Morgoth. These legends are deliberately touched on in Vol. I as being the chief ones in the background of The L.R., dealing with the relations of Elves and Men and Valar (the angelic Guardians) and therefore the chief backward links if (as I then hoped) the Silmarillion was published.

I relate these things because I hope they may interest you, and at the same time reveal how closely linked is linguistic invention and legendary growth and construction. And also possibly convince you that looking around for more or less similar words or names is not in fact very useful even as a source of sounds, and not at all as an explanation of inner meanings and significances. The borrowing, when it occurs (not often) is simply of sounds that are then integrated in a new construction; and only in one case Eärendil will reference to its source cast any light on the legends or their ‘meaning’ – and even in this case the light is little. The use of éarendel in A-S Christian symbolism as the herald of the rise of the true Sun in Christ is completely alien to my use. The Fall of Man is in the past and off stage; the Redemption of Man in the far future. We are in a time when the One God, Eru, is known to exist by the wise, but is not approachable save by or through the Valar, though He is still remembered in (unspoken) prayer by those of Númenórean descent.

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From Quenya - English dictionary:

aiya interjection: hail!

elen noun: star(s)

-ion relative pron. Genitive pl.: from whom, of whom, pl.

ancalima adj.: brightest

So the phrase would mean: Hail Eärendil, brightest of stars!

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