Suite101: Life in an Elven Fishing Town – Michael Martinez’ J.R.R. Tolkien and Middle-earth

by Jun 8, 2001Other News

“Just how closely the parallel between Mithlond and northern fishing villages may be drawn is impossible to know. Should we envision flither-pickers among the rocks, prying shellfish from the wet stone for bait? Were there Elven herring-girls gutting the fish that the mariners returned with? Did the Elven mariners gather on the quays and sing hymns?”
In his May 12th Suite101 article, Michael Martinez notes that Tolkien wrote little concerning the lives and crafts of Cirdan’s mariners, but these hearty Elves of the sea fought in all of Middle-earth’s great wars. They were also among the last Eldarin people to vanish from the world of men.

Here is an excerpt:

Mithlond would have to be the only place in Middle-earth which would seem like a classic English village. “But what about the Shire?” people clamor, nodding their heads to each in knowing fashion. “We have him, this time!” Yes, the Shire’s quaint little villages were clearly modelled on Warwickshire villages, but they lacked something which Mithlond possessed: the equivalent of a church.

Americans who grew up in small towns know immediately what the presence of a church in any town or village means: it is the heart of the community. Forget the town square, the village green, old Jeb’s friendly bar, or the school. That church is the heart and soul of the community. People are baptized there, lectured there, gossiped about there (but not by the preacher if they are discreet), get married there, suffer through the shame of divorce there, grieve over their losses there, socialize there, and ultimately are bid farewell there.

Now, Mithlond was a pair of cities, not really a village. But in Lindon’s heyday, during the years of Gil-galad’s reign (the entire Second Age), the most important city of Lindon was probably Forlond. Mithlond was Cirdan’s turf. The mariners of Brithombar and Eglarest were his people, and as many of them as he could fit onto the ships survived the fall of their ancient cities in western Beleriand. It is almost certain that most of the Falathrim settled in Mithlond in the Second Age.

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