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The epessë is one of the three categories of Elven names, equivalent to a nickname or honorary title.
Elves were typically given two names (essi) at birth: a father-name and a mother-name. The father-name is often based on the father's own name or (in later times) was derived from old legends. A father-name may actually be the same as the father's, with a suffix added, such is the case with Gildor Inglorion. A mother-name is given later at birth and had great significance, as Elven mothers are said to hold great insight into the character of their children. It is also believed that mothers have the gift of prophecy in matters concerning their children.
The epessë or the "after-name" is the third type. The after-name is given later in life, but not necessarily by their kin, as a title of admiration. In some circumstances, the epessë is chosen by the Elf himself or herself. An Elf could be referred to by any of the three, but the epessë typically took preference.
In songs and history, the epessë is usually used rather than the essi.
- Maedhros, the oldest son of Fëanor, was by his brothers referred to as Russandol (copper-top): an epessë he had earned because of his ruddy hair. Maedhros itself was an epessë: his father-name had been Nelyafinwë (Finwë the third: Fëanor's own father name had been (Curu)finwë), and his mother-name Maitimo.
- Gil-galad (Star of Radiance) is the mother-name of Rodnor, son of Orodreth. He is given the epessë Ereinion because of his heritage: the name literally means "Scion of Kings".
- Círdan is the epessë of a Telerin Elf who remained in Beleriand, and later Lindon, until the end of the Third Age. His original name had been forgotten, and he was referred to always as Círdan, a title that had been given to him as Lord of the Falas before the First Age.
- Finrod Felagund is usually referred to as Felagund (hewer of caves), an original derogatory nickname given to him because of his dwellings at Nargothrond. Finrod adopted the name, and made it a title of honour.
- Galadriel is the Sindarin translation of Alatáriel, the latter being the Telerin epessë originally given to her by Celeborn. Galadriel means "Maiden Crowned by a Radiant Garland". The name itself is an epessë: her father-name is Artanis (noble woman) and her mother-name is Nerwen (man-maiden).
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