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Melian "the Maia" was an Ainu of the race of the Maiar of Yavanna, wife of King Elu Thingol, Queen of Doriath, and mother of Lúthien Tinúviel. Melian was the fourth greatest and one of the most powerful of the Maiar. In Middle-earth, she was unsurpassed in both wisdom, beauty, and magical singing.


Before she came to Middle-earth, Melian served both Vána and Estë, and dwelt in Lórien tending the trees that grew in the Gardens of Irmo. Among all of her people none were wiser (with the exception of Ilmarë, Arien ,Olórin and Uinen), more beautiful, or more skilled in singing enchanting songs than Melian. She loved the deep shadows of the great trees. When the light of the Two Trees would mingle Melian would sing and the Valar would stop their work and listen. Nightingales went with her wherever she went, and she taught them their song. Of all the Valar she was most akin to Yavanna. When the Elves awoke on the shore of Cuiviénen she departed from Valinor and went to Middle-earth, where she filled its silence with her singing and the singing of her birds. During this time, she was the chief of the Guardians.[1]

The Woods of Nan Elmoth by WilderWein77

Melian encounters Elwë the woods of Nan Elmoth, by WilderWein77

While in the forest of Nan Elmoth she met and fell in love with the Elven-king Elu Thingol, and later she ruled the kingdom of Doriath by his side. For thousands of years, she used her powers to guard and defend the kingdom with a protection spell called the Girdle of Melian, but she predicted that one person would one day breach this defense. The Girdle functioned to bewilder any who attempted to enter Doriath, and was so potent that even Ungoliant was unable to breach it. She and her husband had a child, a daughter named Lúthien. During her stay in Doriath she became a friend and mentor of Galadriel. Melian wanted to know the cause of the exile of the Ñoldor. Galadriel only briefly narrated the story to her, leaving out the death of Finwë, the Kinslaying at Alqualondë, and the burning of the ships at Losgar. But eventually she and Thingol learned the truth.

Melian's main line of descent was of the Half-elven, and through her daughter the Maian blood passed to both Elves and Men. When Beren arrived as foretold, she counseled Thingol against sending Beren for a Silmaril, a quest which would eventually lead to Doriath's ruin. A friend of Mankind, she also aided Húrin's family by hosting Túrin in Doriath and later helped Beleg Cúthalion in his search for Túrin by giving him Lembas. When Húrin came to Doriath old and carrying a great grief and misery on him, Melian helped him see through his ills. After Thingol's death she left Doriath, visiting Beren and Lúthien for a time warning them of the Dwarves treachery, and the curse on the Mîm's treasure. Shortly there-after, she went back to Valinor, musing upon her sorrows in the gardens of Lórien whence she came.[2]


Melian is a Sindarin name, from the Quenya Melyanna, of which the roots are mel (love) and anna (gift). The name means "dear gift." Earlier versions of Melian's name were Gwenniel or Gwenethlin.[3] Her rare title-name, Tóril, meant "queen."

Other versions[]

In some of J.R.R. Tolkien's earliest tales, Melian is a sprite or twilight spirit named Tindriel, then Wendelin, who served Palúrien. Tinwelint (later Thingol) finds her lonely in a glade of Hisilómë.[4][5] She is Gwendeling or Gwenniel in "The Tale of Tinúviel" (written in 1917), found in the woods listening to the nightingales by Tinwelint, and running away when he first approaches her. This encounter foreshadowed Beren's first meeting of Lúthien, whom he would call "Nightingale", in the final versions of their own tale. Gwendeling marries Tinwelint later, and together they rule Artanor (later Doriath).[6]

Tolkien once chose Tinfang to be Wendelin's son, but dropped the idea.[7]

Gwendeling would be more powerful as Melian the Maia in later stages of Tolkien's mythology; the Maiar were not conceived of until some years after "The Tale of Tinúviel" was written.[8]

House of Thingol[]

The Heraldic Device of the House of Thingol
The Heraldic Device of Queen Melian the Maia

Eluréd and Elurín


Foreign Language Translated name
Amharic መሊኣን
Arabic ميلايان
Armenian Մելիան
Belarusian Cyrillic Меліан
Bengali মেলিঅন
Bosnian Melijana
Bulgarian Cyrillic Мелиан
Catalan Mèlian
Chinese (Hong Kong) 美麗安
Danish Melian (Maia og dronning af Doriath)
Georgian მელიანი
Greek Μέλιαν
Gujarati મેલિઅન
Hebrew מליאן
Hindi मेलिअन
Japanese メリアン
Kannada ಮೆಲಿಯನ್
Kazakh Меліан (Cyrillic) Melian (Latin)
Korean 멜리안
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Мэлиан
Lao ມເລິະນ ?
Macedonian Cyrillic Мелиан
Marathi मेलिअन
Mongolian Cyrillic Мелиан
Nepalese मेलिअन
Pashto مېلیان
Persian ملیان
Polish Meliana
Punjabi ਮੇਲੀਅਨ
Sanskrit मेलिअन्
Serbian Мелиан (Cyrillic) Melian (Latin)
Sinhalese මෙලිඅන්
Russian Мелиан
Tajik Cyrillic Мелиан
Tamil மெலிஅந்
Telugu మెలిఅన
Thai เมลิอัน
Ukrainian Cyrillic Меліан
Urdu میلیان
Uzbek Мелиан (Cyrillic) Melian (Latin)
Yiddish מעליאַנאַ


  1. The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part One. Time and Ageing: XIII. Key Dates", pg. 93-5, 99
  2. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XXII: "Of the Ruin of Doriath"
  3. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. II: The Book of Lost Tales Part Two
  4. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. I: The Book of Lost Tales Part One, "The Chaining of Melko", Notes, 1.
  5. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. I: The Book of Lost Tales Part One, "The Coming of the Elves and the Making of Kôr", pg. 115 (1984 hardcover edition)
  6. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. I: The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "The Tale of Tinúviel"
  7. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. I: The Book of Lost Tales Part One, "The Chaining of Melko", Notes, 1.
  8. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. I: The Book of Lost Tales Part One, "The Music of the Ainur", pg. 63 (1984 hardcover edition)