Thursday, April 22, 2010

Called by Name: Of Turambar

A Turin Tuambar turun ambartanen: Master of doom by doom mastered! Oh happy to be dead!

First of all, let me apologize for the length of the last post. I didn’t recognize how long it really was until I posted it, but there was no good place to break it up into two shorter ones. I will also apologize in advance for this one; it will be just as long, if not longer.
I said in my previous post that Turin’s last names are the saddest, though they may not appear so. For Nargothrond marks the peak of Turin’s achievement, and the brink of his fall.
While in Nargothrond, Turin wielded Beleg’s blade, which gave him the name of Mormegil, the Black Sword. As a valiant captain, he became chief advisor to the king, essentially ruling Nargothrond in all but name.
Another name Turin receives in Nargothrond is Adanedhel, the Elf-Man. His upbringing in Doriath and his fair appearance led even the Elves to think of him as one of the Noldor, and even his temperament was as rash and foolhardy as the proud sons of FĂ«anor.
Finduilas, the King’s daughter, called Turin “Thurin,” the Secret, for through the sorrows he shared with her, she sensed deeper grief underneath his fair words. And she knew that though she loved him, he would not allow her entry into his heart.
But Morgoth’s curse fell like a hammer on Nargothrond. He sends hosts of orcs and the dragon Glauring to ransack the city. Glauring also bewitched Turin to think of his mother Morwen and his sister Nienor (whom he has never seen) living as thralls in his childhood home while Turin dwelt in splendor. Ignoring the pleas of the orcs’ captives, Turin departs for Dor-lomin
Unknown to Turin, though, Morwen and Nienor had fled to Doriath while Turin led his men in Dor-Cuathol. When rumors of the Black Sword’s fall in Nargothrond reached them, Morwen and Nienor rashly rode out to seek further tidings. Yet their errand failed, for Glauring came upon them, driving Morwen into the wild and laying a spell of forgetfulness upon Nienor.
In Dor-lomin, Turin learned that Morwen and Nienor had fled to Doriath, but he decided not to go and find them, for he believed they were safe. Instead, he joined a humble band of woodsman, where he took the name Turambar, Master of Doom, for he hoped to overcome Morgoth’s curse by living a quiet life.
Nienor came to the Crossings of Teiglin, where Turin found her and cared for her. He named her “Niniel,” Tear-Maiden, for she could not remember her name, nor her past, nor any words of language. Yet something in her stirred at the sight of Turin. After a time, they were married.
When Niniel was two months pregnant, Glauring marched on Brethil. Turin went forth and killed the dragon while it was still a ways off. But the death-cries of the dragon filled men with fear.
Niniel found Turin lying by Glauring, apparently dead. But Glauring spoke for the last time, and his words struck her like a blow.
Hail, Nienor, daughter of Hurin. We met again before the end. I give thee joy that thou hast found thy brother at last. And now thou shalt know him: a stabber in the dark, treacherous to foes, faithless to friends, and a curse unto his kin, Turin son of Hurin. But the worst of all his deeds thou shalt feel in thyself.
Glauring died, and Nienor remembered everything. In horror, she cast herself over a waterfall. But Turin was not dead, but merely swooned. When he woke, men told him all Glauring had said and the death of Nienor. Upon realizing the truth, Turin fell upon his own sword.
A Turin Tuambar turun ambartanen. Though I have only given a brief overview of the tragic tale of Turin here, it raises many questions. All of Turin’s names may be seen as attempts to ward off his fate, but as Gwindor said, “The doom lies in yourself, not in your name.”
Doom. What will we do with the doom that lies in our own names? For the doom of Christians is a free-dom, the weight of our own choices. A doom both lighter and heavier than any curse of Morgoth.


  1. I just realized something that I had never noticed before. The death of Turin is remarkably similar to the end of Romeo and Juliet.

  2. Except that Turin's story is a lot sadder than Romeo and Juliet.

  3. Good summary of Turin's story. I need to reread The Children of Hurin. In some ways I like it better than LOTR because it's such a tragedy. I like how you related our doom to our freewill at the end of the essay.

  4. Oh wow... That's sad... Where can I read that? It's The Children of Hurin, right?

  5. BESM, check the local library for The Children of Hurin for the full-length saga, or The Silmarillion, chapter 21 "Of Turin."