[Originally posted on March 17th, 2015]
Perhaps one of the most important figures in Tolkien’s mythology is Eärendil the Mariner.
In the First Age, after the fall of many great elven strongholds, the remnant of the Elves in Middle-earth were gathered close to the sea in hopes of sailing away from the power of Morgoth. Eärendil and his wife Elwing was among them. She brought with her the last safe Silmaril (the story of how she came about it is a tale in itself). Seeing no hope against Morgoth, Eärendil, with the help of Círdan the Shipwright, built a great ship, the Vingilot, and sailed West with Elwing and the Silmaril. Upon his arrival in Valinor (which is a grace in and of itself), Manwë, the leader of the Valar, heard Eärendil’s plea: he asked for mercy on both the Men and Eldar in Middle-earth and for the Valar to bring justice to Morgoth. Since he asked selflessly and was sincere, Manwë withheld the punishment one normally deserved coming to the West unbidden: death. Instead, he and the Valar came over the sea and battled with Morgoth. Eärendil also fought and slew the great black dragon Ancalagon. The destruction in this battle was so great it caused the land of Beleriand to be ruined and sink into the sea. Morgoth was overthrown and his rule in Middle-earth ended, along with the First Age. Afterwards, Eärendil and Elwing were not allowed to return to Middle-earth and were instead sent to sail above the world with the Silmaril, the light of which becomes a star very dear to the Eldar in ages to come. This is the star who’s light is captured in the Phial of Galadriel given to Frodo.