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In The Silmarillion we learn that all of Fëanor's sons, like himself and his father Finwë, were killed because of the Silmarils.

All, except one: Maglor, who threw "his" Silmaril into the sea and then "was always heard singing sorrowfully along the coast".

Is that the last we heard of him?

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  • I'd just note that Maglor was the only son, but not the only relative, of Feanor to survive the First Age. Celebrimbor was Feanor's grandson (Curufin's son). Apr 19, 2015 at 21:00
  • Edited to reflect above comment. May 30, 2015 at 7:11

6 Answers 6

22

The line after the one you've quoted is the last hint to his fate:

"And it is told of Maglor that he could not endure the pain with which the Silmaril tormented him; and he cast it at last into the Sea, and thereafter he wandered ever upon the shores, singing in pain and regret beside the waves. For Maglor was mighty among the singers of old, named only after Daeron of Doriath; but he came never back among the people of the Elves."

Quenta Silmarillion: Chapter 24 - "Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath", emphasis mine.

There is also this quote, reportedly from "The Quenta" in The Shaping of Middle-earth:

"...not all would forsake the Outer Lands where they had long suffered and long dwelt; and some lingered many an age in the West and North, and especially in the western isles and the lands of Leithian. And among these were Maglor as has been told."

My own speculation is that it seems most likely that either:

  1. He remained hiding alone, perhaps wandering the shores
  2. He eventually died of grief or weariness (this was a canonical way for Elves to die, although there are no clear instances of it -- I've seen theories that Aredhel or Lúthien or maybe Arwen did)
  3. Or perhaps he was in Beleriand when it was broken and fell to the bottom of the sea at the end of the War of Wrath, or suffered some other unfortunate fate
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  • 4
    Feanor's mother died of weariness, never being able to recover from giving birth to him.
    – Joel
    Mar 2, 2015 at 20:43
  • Aredhel was speared by Eöl, and the tip of the javelin was poisoned—it was likely the poison that killed her. Mar 24, 2022 at 11:44
  • It said in some parts of the Silmarillion that someone fell into a great grief and their spirit fled their body. (I just cannot remember who.)
    – Joe C
    Aug 9, 2023 at 1:20
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In the 1937 edition of The Silmarillion, which contained the last full version of the End of the First Age that Tolkien ever wrote, there are two conflicting accounts of the fate of Maglor. The first one, from paragraph 25, is the best known, and was taken up in the published Silmarillion:

...thereafter he wandered ever upon the shores singing in pain and regret beside the waves. For Maglor was the mightiest of the singers of old, but he came never back among the people of the Elves.

The second one however, from paragraph 28, has an entirely different fate:

Yet not all the Eldalië were willing to forsake the Hither Lands where they had long suffered and long dwelt; and some lingered many an age in the West and North, and especially in the western isles and in the Land of Leithian. And among these were Maglor, as hath been told; and with him for a while was Elrond Halfelven, who chose, as was granted to him, to be among the Elf-kindred...

This was not amended (or at least not recorded as having been amended) in the post-LotR revisions of this part of The Silmarillion, and so must have most likely been editorially changed (to "Among those were Círdan the Shipwright, and Celeborn of Doriath, with Galadriel his wife, who alone remained of those who led the Noldor to exile in Beleriand. In Middle-earth dwelt also Gil-galad the High King, and with him was Elrond...") in Chapter 24 by Christopher Tolkien.

It's difficult to know how to interpret this. On the one hand "among these were Maglor" does not directly contradict the first paragraph (he may have just been wandering alone in the same regions). On the other hand "with him for a while was Elrond Halfelven" clearly shows that Maglor was not alone. But yet again, Elrond as "Halfelven" could be argued to not belong to the "people of the Elves". The only thing that seems certain is that Tolkien had Maglor living with Elrond as a reference to Maglor's earlier succouring of the sons of Eärendil, but what his ultimate intention was seems as though it must remain unknown.

A final point is the reference to "that lament which is named Noldolantë, the Fall of the Noldor, that Maglor made ere he was lost" in Of the Flight of the Noldor. Again, this is open to individual interpretation - did he make it during his wanderings? Did he make it during his time with Elrond? Did he make it earlier in the First Age?

Ultimately the whole matter is best summarized by Tolkien's words elsewhere: "of this two things are said, though which is true only those Wise could say who now are gone".

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He cannot have fallen into the sea when Beleriand was ruined. It was already ruined when the Valar retrieved the Silmarils from Morgoth, and it was after that that Maedhros and Maglor stole them.

There is no indication in The Silmarillion or any of the other writings that Maglor's fate was ever lifted. He wandered "ever upon the shores" - that rather sounds like eternity to me. Dying would have meant returning to Valinor, and I feel he did not think he deserved that. It was his own self-imposed punishment, together with the shame and despair.

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    ". Dying would have meant returning to Valinor, and I feel he did not think he deserved that." If he didn't deserve that, he would just linger in Mandos like his father.
    – Spencer
    Apr 8, 2020 at 15:51
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His wikipedia indicates that yes, it is the last we hear from him

Thereafter he wandered along the shores of the world, singing laments over the loss of the jewel, until he faded from memory.

Though there is some speculation, it is not backed in canon:

There is speculation that he remained even after the Third Age in Middle-earth, forbidden forever from returning to Valinor. It is also possible that Maglor did not, in fact, survive into the Second Age, but instead perished when Beleriand sank into the Sea in the War of Wrath.

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  • I like to think that Maglor did survive and was still wandering the wilds of Eriador at the end of the Third Age. Perhaps he even glimpsed the Fellowship as they made their way though Eregion and wondered who they were, and what their errand was :-) Apr 13, 2015 at 16:04
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Such pain and despair.

Most likely, he wandered singing songs (for an Age) and lamenting until he literally faded.

Not only from memory but entirely faded, as Elves who stayed in Middle-earth eventually did.

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    Hi, welcome to SciFi.SE. This is a start, but your answer could be improved by editing in some quotes from the books to help prove and further your point. Please see How to Answer for some helpful info
    – fez
    Mar 19, 2022 at 16:26
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Maglor still dwells alone on some isle singing. The Silmaril no longer holds his heart in thrall for he alone knows where one lay.

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    The question already states all this. This does not seem to answer the question. Jan 14, 2014 at 12:04

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