The Girdle of Melian (also known as Veil of Melian or simply the Veil) was an enchanted barrier surrounding the realm of Doriath throughout much of its existence, created by its namesake, the Maia and Queen Melian.
The Girdle enclosed the three forests of Neldoreth, Region, Nivrim and part of the land of Aelin-uial. All those who attempted to pass through it became enmeshed and wandered aimlessly as if lost in an impossible maze of trees, placing them in a situation where their food would eventually run out and they would die. The Girdle also protected Doriath from the dark influence and prying eyes of Morgoth, similar to the way Galadriel used Nenya to protect Lothlórien from Sauron.
Only those permitted by Thingol or Melian, or with power greater than Melian, could successfully navigate through it. The only recorded two to have passed through against her will were Beren and Carcharoth.
The Girdle of Melian was raised by Melian shortly after the First Battle of Beleriand to ensure that Doriath remain untouched by the forces of the enemy. When the Ñoldor returned to Middle-earth from the West, Thingol sought to bar them from settlement in the lands of the Sindar and would only permit guests into Doriath through the barrier. After learning of the Kinslaying of Alqualondë, Thingol forbade all Ñoldor, save for those of the House of Finarfin his kin from entering the realm through the barrier.
The Girdle's long history of barring unwanted intruders came to an end in the fourth century of the First Age. Beren passed through unrestrained and later during the Quest for the Silmaril; the crazed Carcharoth breached the barrier for he could not be stopped.
Due Mim/Glaurung's cursed treasure hoard corrupting many of Thingol's elves, some of the treacherous elves allowed other treacherous Dwarves from Belogost and Nogrod past the veil, who then ambushed Thingol in the woods while he was on a hunt, who had not long before survived the battle with other treacherous Dwarves who lived in Thousand Caves some time before.
The Girdle was lifted by Melian who after the death of Thingol soon left Middle-earth and returned to Aman. Doriath lay unprotected from then on.
Behind the scenes
In The History of Middle-earth, Christopher Tolkien wrote;
- 'Apart from a few matters of detail in texts and notes that have not been published, all that my father ever wrote on the subject of the ruin of Doriath has now been set out (...) If these materials are compared with the story told in The Silmarillion it is seen at once that this latter is fundamentally changed, to a form for which in certain essential features there is no authority whatever in my father's own writings.
- There were very evident problems with the old story. Had he ever turned to it again, my father would undoubtedly have found some solution other than that in the Quenta to the question: How was the treasure of Nargothrond brought to Doriath? There, the curse that Mîm laid upon the gold at his death 'came upon the possessors in this wise. Each one of Húrin's company died or was slain in quarrels upon the road; but Húrin went unto Thingol and sought his aid, and the folk of Thingol bore the treasure to the Thousand Caves.'
- As I said in IV.188, 'it ruins the gesture, if Húrin must get the king himself to send for the gold with which he is then to be humiliated'. It seems to me most likely (but this is mere speculation) that my father would have reintroduced the outlaws from the old Tales (11.113-15,222-3) as the bearers of the treasure (though not the fierce battle between them and the Elves of the Thousand Caves): in the scrappy writings at the end of The Wanderings of Húrin Asgon and his companions reappear after the disaster in Brethil and go with Húrin to Nargothrond (pp. 306-7).
In Beren and Lúthien, Christopher Tolkien went back to his father's original writings and not Guy Gavriel Kay's invented chapter in The Silmarillion, "Of the Ruin of Doriath", instead he uses at least some of his father's explanations (although somewhat simplified), that had been used in the Quenta Noldorinwa. As well as one of the explanations he thought unlikely when he was writing The Silmarillion in which he requested Thingol go out bring the treasure back to Doriath.
1. Mim does have companions which the Hurin's companions battle in Nargothrond, but its not specific what race they are (elf and/or orcs as in earlier versions)... However as much of this part of the story is not important to the Beren and Luthien story it is quite condensed (compared to other versions of the events).
2. "[Húrin went to Thingol and sought his aid, and the folk of Thingol bore the treasure to the Thousand Caves; then Húrin departed.]
3. It is treachery of Elves on the inside that help the Dwarves enter past the Girdle.
4. There is no mention of Dwarves allying with orc mercenaries as there are in some versions of the story. But again while this section is put more in line with Tolkien's original story its condensed until it switches to another source related to battle between Dwarves and Beren at Sarn Ashrad.
Translations around the world
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Afrikaans||Gordel van Melian|
|Albanian||Brez i Melian|
|Belarusian Cyrillic||Рэмень Меліан|
|Bengali||মেলিঅন এর বেল্ট|
|Bosnian||Pojas od Melijana|
|Bulgarian Cyrillic||Пояс на Мелиан|
|Catalan||Faixa de Melian|
|Cebuano||Bakus sa Melian|
|Danish||Bælte af Melian|
|Dutch||Gordel van Melian|
|Filipino||Pamigkis ng Melian|
|French||Ceinture de Melian|
|Greek||Ζωνάρι της Μελιαν|
|Hausa||Abin ɗamara na Melian|
|Hawaiian||Kaei o Melian|
|Hindi||मेलिअन का करधनी|
|Icelandic||Belti af Melían|
|Igbo||Ọkiké nke Melian|
|Italian||Cintura di Melian|
|Javanese||Sabuk saka Melian|
|Kurdish||Kembereke ji Melian (Kurmanji Kurdish)|
|Kyrgyz Cyrillic||Мэлиан бел|
|Luxembourgish||Belt vun Melian|
|Maltese||Ċinturin ta Melian|
|Maori||Tātua o Melian|
|Nepalese||मेलिअन को बेल्ट|
|Norwegian||Beltet av Melian|
|Portuguese||Cinta de Melian|
|Punjabi||ਮੇਲੀਅਨ ਦਾ ਕਮਰ|
|Serbian||Појас од Мелиан (Cyrillic) Pojas od Melian (Latin)|
|Spanish||Faja de Melian|
|Swahili||Mshipi wa Melian|
|Swedish||Gördel av Melian|
|Ukrainian Cyrillic||ремінь Меліан|
|Uzbek||Мелиан камарини (Cyrillic) Melian kamarini (Latin)|
|Yiddish||גארטל פון מעליאַן|
- ↑ The Atlas of Middle-earth, The First Age, The Elder Days, "Beleriand and the Lands to the North"
- ↑ The Atlas of Middle-earth, The First Age, The Elder Days, "The Battles of Beleriand"
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter X: "Of the Sindar"
- ↑ The Children of Húrin, Narn i Chîn Húrin, The Tale of the Children of Húrin, IV: "The Departure of Túrin"