Tolkien character
Tuor slays Othrod.jpg
Tuor Slays Othrod
In-universe information
Aliases Eladar,


'The Blessed'
Race Men (later Elves, see history)
Book(s) The Silmarillion

Unfinished Tales

The Book of Lost Tales II

The Fall of Gondolin

Tuor is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, and the central character of The Fall of Gondolin.[1] He is the grandfather of Elrond Half-elven and one of the most renowned ancestors of the Men of Númenor and of the King of the Reunited Kingdom Aragorn Elessar. Along with Beren Erchamion and Aragorn, Tuor was one of only three Men ever to marry one of the Eldarin Elves.

Tuor's story is one of many told briefly in the 23rd chapter of The Silmarillion.[T 1] A very early version, written circa 1916–17, is found in The Book of Lost Tales II,[T 2] part of The History of Middle-earth. Unfinished Tales contains the start of a more mature and complete narrative, which Tolkien began after finishing The Lord of the Rings in the 1950s. However, it gets no further than Tuor's first sight of Gondolin.[T 3]

Fictional biography [ edit ]

Tuor was a great hero of the Third House of Men in the First Age, the only son of Huor and Rían and the cousin of Túrin Turambar. Huor was slain covering the retreat of Turgon, King of Gondolin, in the Nírnaeth Arnoediad in Y.S. 472. Rían, having received no tidings of her husband, became distraught and wandered into the wild. She was taken care of by the local Grey-elves, and before the end of the year she bore a son and called him Tuor. But she delivered him to the care of the Elves and departed, dying upon the Haudh-en-Ndengin.

Tuor was fostered by the Elves in the caves of Androth in the Mountains of Mithrim, in the Hithlum region of Beleriand, living a hard and wary life. When Tuor was sixteen their leader Annael resolved to forsake the land, but during the march his people were scattered and Tuor was captured by the Easterlings, who had been sent there by Morgoth and who cruelly oppressed the remnant of the House of Hador. After three years of thraldom under Lorgan the Easterling, Tuor escaped and returned to the caves.

The Wedding of Tuor and Idril

For four years he lived as an outlaw, but never saw a way of escape from Dor-lómin; he slew many of the Easterlings that he came upon during his journeys, and Tuor's name was feared. Meanwhile, Ulmo, Vala of Waters, heard of his plight and chose Tuor to bear a message to Turgon, Lord of the Hidden City of Gondolin, and give a hope for the Elves and Men. By Ulmo's power a spring near Tuor's cave overflowed, and following the stream Tuor passed through Dor-lómin to Ered Lómin. Under the guidance of two Elves sent there by Ulmo, Gelmir and Arminas, he passed through the ancient Gate of the Noldor (Sindarin Annon-in-Gelydh) into Nevrast, where Tuor is said to have been the first Man to come to the shore of the Great Sea, Belegaer. Thence he was led by seven swans, and came at last to the old dwellings of Turgon at Vinyamar.

Tuor found arms and armour in the ruins of Vinyamar left there centuries ago by Turgon at the command of Ulmo, and then met Ulmo himself at the coast of Belegaer. He appointed Tuor to be his messenger and told him to seek King Turgon in Gondolin, and sent him an Elf Voronwë, saved by Ulmo from a shipwreck, to guide him. Voronwë led Tuor along the southern slopes of Ered Wethrin, and they caught a brief glimpse of Tuor's cousin Túrin near the Pools of Ivrin, the only time the paths of the two ever crossed. Journeying through the fell winter, they eventually reached Gondolin in Y.S. 495. They were admitted, but Turgon did not hearken to the counsel of Ulmo and would not forsake the Hidden City.

Tuor remained in Gondolin, and married Turgon's daughter, Idril Celebrindal. This was the second union between the Elves and Men, after Beren and Lúthien. Their only child was Eärendil the Mariner. Tuor was the leader of the House of the Swan Wing, one of the twelve houses of Gondolin, and won the hearts of the Gondolindrim. During the sack of the city, Tuor defended his wife and son from Orcs and the traitorous Elf Maeglin, whom he slew. With the remnant of the people of Gondolin he escaped the sacking of the city by a secret way contrived by Idril, encountering a Balrog in the mountain heights; saved but by the valour of Glorfindel, chief of the House of the Golden Flower.

At last they reached Nan-tathren and the Mouths of Sirion. Tuor eventually felt a longing for the Sea, and built the ship Eärramë (Sea-wing). The Mouths of Sirion were now held by Eärendil and Elwing, but Tuor sailed to the West with Idril, and it was a tradition under the Eldar and Edain that they arrived in Valinor, bypassing the Ban of the Valar, and that Tuor alone of Men was counted as Elven kindred, still living there now.

Concept and creation [ edit ]

Tuor has to flee the wreck of a kingdom, just as Aeneas had to escape the wreck of Troy,[2] as depicted in this painting by Federico Barocci, 1598

In the original Fall of Gondolin story, Tuor is said to have carried an axe, called Dramborleg "Thudder-Sharp", that "smote both a heavy dint as of a club and cleft as a sword". The Axe of Tuor is referred to in later writings as preserved in Númenor as an heirloom of the Kings, though the name must have been rejected as unfitting later language conceptions.[T 4]

In early versions of the story Tuor was supposed to have travelled all the way from Dor-lómin along the shores of the Sea to the Mouths of Sirion. There he met Voronwë (or "Bronweg"), and in Nan-tathren Ulmo appeared to them. The journey to Gondolin was thus up the River Sirion.

In some texts Tolkien spells his name Tûr, but finally decided on Tuor.

Samuel Cook, writing in Anor, stated the case for Tuor as a forgotten hero, equal to the better-known Beren and Túrin.[3]

Jennifer Rogers notes in Tolkien Studies that Christopher Tolkien, in his book The Fall of Gondolin, seamlessly, without the editorial apparatus used in The History of Middle-earth, introduces the story by providing short extracts of his father's 1926 "Sketch of the Mythology" and "The Flight of the Noldoli from Valinor". She writes that these additions set "Tuor's story in the context of the Doom of Mandos and the Oath of Fëanor", in other words within the legendarium.[4]

Linda Greenwood, in Tolkien Studies, notes that Tuor is the only mortal Man in the legendarium who is permitted (with his Elvish wife Idril) to live as an immortal, something not otherwise allowed.[5][6] Tolkien suggests an explanation in a letter, namely that Eru Ilúvatar, the One God, directly intervenes as a unique exception, just as in Lúthien's assumption of a mortal fate.[T 5]

David Greenman, in Mythlore, compares The Fall of Gondolin, Tolkien's first long Middle-earth work, to Virgil's Aeneid. He finds it fitting that Tuor, "Tolkien's early quest-hero", escapes from the wreck of an old kingdom and creates new ones, just as Aeneas does, while his late quest-heroes in The Lord of the Rings, the hobbits of the Shire, are made to return to their home, ravaged while they were away, and are obliged to scour it clean, just as Odysseus does in Homer's Odyssey.[2]

John Garth writes in his book Tolkien's Worlds that the windswept treeless hills of Nevrast, where Tuor reaches the cliffs and becomes the first Man to see the sea in the legendarium, are "perfectly Cornish". Garth notes that Tuor stands there, arms outspread at sunset, until the sea-Vala Ulmo appears from the water to prophesy the birth of Tuor's son Earendil, who ends up with a Silmaril in the sky as the Evening Star.[7] The German artist Jenny Dolfen has painted the scene in her 2019 "And His Heart Was Filled With Longing" as a Cornish landscape, with Tuor surrounded by seagulls.[7][8] He points out that this means that the Evening Star was not in the western sky that Tuor saw, whereas when Tolkien visited the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall in 1914, the planet had risen and set "due west", an uncommon sight. A few weeks later, Tolkien wrote the first poem of his legendarium, "The Voyage of Earendel the Evening Star".[7]

Descent of Tuor [ edit ]

Túrin–Tuor family tree[T 6]
Baran Marach
Boron Haldad Malach
Boromir Haldar Magor
Bregor Haldan Hathol
Bregolas Halmir Hador
Belegund Baragund Hareth Galdor
Rían Morwen Húrin Huor Rían





Elwing Eärendil
Elros Elrond
Colour key:
Colour Description
  Half-elven who chose the fate of elves
  Half-elven who chose the fate of mortal men

References [ edit ]

Primary [ edit ]

This list identifies each item's location in Tolkien's writings.
  1. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1977), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Ch. 23, "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin", ISBN 0-395-25730-1
  2. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1984), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales, 2, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "The Fall of Gondolin", ISBN 0-395-36614-3
  3. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin", ISBN 0-395-29917-9
  4. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "A Description of Númenor", note 2, ISBN 0-395-29917-9
  5. ^ Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. (1981), The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, #153 to Peter Hastings, September 1954, ISBN 0-395-31555-7
  6. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1977), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-25730-1

Secondary [ edit ]

  1. ^ Thomas, Paul Edmund (2013) [2007]. "Inklings". In Drout, Michael D. C. (ed.). J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. pp. 71–72. ISBN 978-0-415-86511-1.
  2. ^ a b Greenman, David (1992). "Aeneidic and Odyssean Patterns of Escape and Release in Tolkien's 'The Fall of Gondolin' and 'The Return of the King'". Mythlore. 18 (2). Article 1.
  3. ^ Cook, Samuel (2017). "In Defence of Tuor" (PDF). Anor (52 Michaelmas 2017): 22–25.
  4. ^ Rogers, Jennifer (2019). "The Fall of Gondolin by J.R.R Tolkien". Tolkien Studies. 16 (1): 170–174. doi:10.1353/tks.2019.0013. ISSN 1547-3163.
  5. ^ Greenwood, Linda (2005). "Love: 'The Gift of Death'". Tolkien Studies. 2 (1): 171–195. doi:10.1353/tks.2005.0019. ISSN 1547-3163.
  6. ^ Biese, Mary (27 October 2020). "Tolkien and Immortality". Clarifying Catholicism. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
  7. ^ a b c Garth, John (2020). Tolkien's worlds : the places that inspired the writer's imagination. London: White Lion Publishing. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-7112-4127-5. OCLC 1181910875.
  8. ^ Dolfen, Jenny (2019). "And His Heart Was Filled With Longing". Twitter. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
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