Silmarillion Seminar Episode Recap: Unfinished Tales Description of the Island of Numenor

The Silmarillon Seminar participants did not think that we could get an entire session out of the “Unfinished Tales” version of the description of Numenor given the length of the chapter. However, like always, Tolkien surprised us, and gave us a full session. Here’s a recap of what we talked about in last night’s Seminar (10:15ET–MyMERadio)-Brandon

The first main issue we discussed was the Geography of Numenor, and the strange fact that it is described in the text as Five-Pointed, or as a “Pentagle,” the inversion of which is the sign the the symbol Satanism. In Goethe’s “Faust,” Faust’s devil appears because he made a mistake in the geometry (i.e. a line was broken) of this five-pointed star. the devil appears.

However an upright star, a Pentagle, is supposed to stand for “perfection” or “virtue” and  is on Texaco,Wall-Mart,  The USA Army (and many corporate logos beside).

But why why Five? Is there anywhere else in Tolkien’s world that we find “five” as a sacred, (maybe even holy) number? It seems the Valar like this number, as they sent in numbers of five Istari in numbers of Five, though we only hear about the White, Grey and Brown.

I was blamed (jokingly) for saying the Valar are responsible for this intentional act of subcreation. Aule’s subcreation is stopped by Illuvatar, but the sub-creation here is a Gift to Men from the Valar and allowed to go on. Perhaps the Valar can create geography and people to fill it, but not Children of their own?

Manwe’s Eagles fly above the Island, perhaps, as Jason suggested, keeping an eye on the Numenoreans.  The proximity of Numenor being between Middle-Earth and Valinor, as pointed out by Matt, will prove to a problem later. What will Eru think of the Valar’s subcreation here, which could be–as was argued–an interference with The Children of Illuvavtar? Stay tuned!

It was also brought up that Tolkien had on his mind the Island of Atlantis. Was Plato’s description of Atlantis in “The Republic” is proximate to the size of Numenor? Are there other places? It seems roughly the size of California and the west coast of the United States, perhaps the size of Texas, the Lone Star State.

If you want to find out how Five is an important number in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight click here.

Interference by the Gods in myth tend to bloodshed, but is this a good thing or a bad thing? Does Tolkien even care for the Geography of Arda ? Is there any significance given to the number nine? How about the number seven? Numerology and Geography is sure something to think about.

Join us next time as The Silmarillion Seminar meets back Thursday, July 26th at 10:15pm!

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About brandonyoung

Tolkien Professor SIlmarillion Seminar participant, Joyce scholar, etc.
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5 Responses to Silmarillion Seminar Episode Recap: Unfinished Tales Description of the Island of Numenor

  1. Avatar of knowfere says:

    Is this seminar broadcast on MME radio? I don’t see it in the schedule or I would have listened in. Or is it only available on podcast. And I believe there’s a mistake in the date, as the 27th is on a Friday :-)

    • Avatar of brandonyoung brandonyoung says:

      Hi! @knowfere ! Thanks for the constructive feedback! This was posted too early, but thank you for the date correction.
      As for whether the show is on MME radio and schedule is a question probably for @jasonjewell or @davekale to answer. It’s beyond my interest and authority.
      Thanks for the nice feedback!

  2. Avatar of Jason Jewell Jason Jewell says:

    No one mentioned this the other night, but the Valar certainly have permission to shape geography. That’s what they were doing in the Spring of Arda, anyway.

    • Avatar of brandonyoung brandonyoung says:

      I think Valar Morality is a subject unto itself that ultimately ends at Socrates (or Plato). They are constrained. They are subjects. I see this as no different than the “hallowed” pagan Greco-Roman/Hindu mythsof thestory of some Gods who are so..curious by their lower beings, they can’t help but interfere. So, it’s at the very least evidence theValar aremore present than perhaps we think,and Illuvatar even more so.
      In short, the Dwarves weren’t the only Subcreation of the Valar, and I think all the morays end with that passage between Illuvatar and Aule. It’s like the Tolkien beatitudes.

  3. Avatar of brandonyoung brandonyoung says:

    Really I wanted to share this, which I found whilst comparing Armitage’s translation of the GreenKnight to Tolkien’s: From the Introduction by Christopher, I believe.
    “He has re-drawn according to his own faith his ideal knighthood, making it Christian Knighthood, showing the grace and beauty…Mary is the supreme creation: the Queen of Courtesy, as he calls her in Pearl. THIS HE EXHIBITS SYMBOLICALLY IN MATHEMATICAL PERFECTION IN THE PENTANGLE..”

    When Gawain offers himself as the lamb. And he’s the least powerful or valiant (but most humble) of the Roundtable knights, so Gawain steps forth just like Frodo does. And that’s some interesting parallels too. Goes to show, Tolkien is a like a good friend who suprises you if you dig deep enough.

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