Lúthien, also known as Tinúviel, was an Elf Maiden of Doriath, the wife of Beren Erchamion, and the most beautiful of all the Children of Ilúvatar that has ever lived. Her love of the man Beren, for which she was prepared to risk everything, even death itself, was legendary and lamented forever in song and story. She and Beren braved Morgoth's horrors, eventually winning the Silmaril and the respect of Thingol. Though their actions later resulted in both their deaths, their deeds won them the pity of Mandos and a second life in Middle-earth.
And thus in anguish Beren paid
for that great doom upon him laid,
the deathless love of Lúthien,
too fair for love of mortal Men;
and in his doom was Lúthien snared,
the deathless in his dying shared;
and Fate them forged a binding chain
of living love and mortal pain.
— The Lays of Beleriand, "The Doom of Lúthien"
Lúthien was the daughter of Elu Thingol, King of Doriath, and his Queen, Melian the Maia. (Technically, this makes Lúthien Half-elven, but she is counted among the Elves; the term "Half-elven" was reserved for those with human descent). Throughout the years before she met Beren, she lived as all the Elves of Doriath did: in a state of perfect blissful peace. She was a woman of incomparable beauty and grace, with night-dark hair, sparkling grey eyes, luminous skin, and a clear heartbreakingly lovely voice that was said to cause winter to melt into spring - "the song of Luthien released the bonds of winter, and the frozen waters spoke, and flowers sprang from the cold earth where her feet had passed". She also often enjoyed dancing in the woods of the realm to the music of her good friend Daeron‘s flute. He himself soon came to love her jealously, but she did not return it.
Beren and the Quest for the Silmaril
Lúthien was remembered in the Lay of Leithian as the first Elven woman to have fallen in love and married a mortal man, Beren, a Man of the House of Bëor whom she met in the woods of Doriath. Their relationship was unlikely from the beginning: Lúthien was not only the cherished single daughter of the most powerful Elven King in Beleriand, but also the daughter of a Maia, a powerful angelic being of the race of the Ainur. Beren was a mortal man on the run from the first Dark Lord Morgoth.
Thingol was desperate not to let Beren marry his daughter, and set an impossible task as the bride price: Beren had to bring to Thingol one of the Silmarils from Morgoth's iron crown. Against monstrous odds, being kidnapped by the Sons of Fëanor and the death of Finrod Felagund, as well as a confrontation with Sauron, the couple achieved the task with help from Huan, the Hound of Valinor, but Beren died as soon as it was completed. In grief, Lúthien lay down and died, passing to the Halls of Mandos. There she sang to Mandos, and for the first time he was moved by her grief. But Mandos had no authority to allow Beren to live again, so he went before Manwë for advice, who in turn sought out the counsel of Eru Ilúvatar himself. Two choices were then placed before Lúthien; she could either dwell in Valimar with the Valar in bliss forever as reward for all that she had accomplished, or she could be restored to life again with Beren, on the condition that they would both be mortal and die the death of Men. For her love of Beren, Luthien chose the latter.
After this, they dwelled in Ossiriand until after the sack of Menegroth. They had a son, Dior, who was called Elúchil - the Heir of Thingol. After the Silmaril was stolen by Beren it was set in the Nauglamír, the Necklace of the Dwarves, which was given to Lúthien. Her beauty combined with the splendor of the gem and necklace to make her home of Tol Galen the fairest land ever to have existed east of Valinor. On her death the Nauglamír was delivered to her son Dior, which led to the ruin of Doriath.
The union of Beren and Lúthien was the first between a mortal Man and an Elven maid. Their lineage passed down to the royal House of Elros of the Kingdom of Númenor, and then on to the Dúnedain, men living in exile in Middle-earth, and on to the Kings of the Reunited Kingdom and beyond. Lúthien's romance with Beren is one of the great stories of the Elder Days, and is mirrored by the later romance between Aragorn and Arwen Evenstar. According to legend, her line will never be broken as long as the world lasts.
Lúthien (Sindarin IPA: [ˈluːθjen]) means "Enchantress" and Tinúviel ([tiˈnuːvjel]) means "twilight-maiden", a poetic name for lómelindë or nightingale. Lúthien may have been derived from the Old English word Lufien, which means love.
Tinúviel was a name given to her by Beren when he first spoke to her not knowing her name (it was also the name Tolkien originally gave her, before changing it to Lúthien). She is described as the Morning Star of the Elves, while Arwen is called Evenstar, the Evening Star.
Edith Tolkien - The Inspiration for Lúthien
Lúthien is supposed to have been based on Edith Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien's wife. Edith Tolkien was buried in Wolvercote Cemetery (North Oxford) and this name appears on her plaque:
EDITH MARY TOLKIEN - LUTHIEN 1889–1971
In the various versions of The Tale of Tinúviel, Tolkien's earliest form of his tale, as published in The Book of Lost Tales Parts 1 and 2, her original name is Tinúviel (Lúthien was invented later), Beren is an Elf, and Sauron has not yet emerged. In his place, they face Tevildo, the Prince of Cats, a monstrous giant cat.
- ↑ The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XIX: "Of Beren and Lúthien"
- ↑ The Complete Guide to Middle-earth
- ↑ The History of Middle-earth: The Book of Lost Tales
- ↑ The History of Middle-earth: The Book of Lost Tales 2