The Mytho-historicity of Ælfwine/Eriol

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Meneldur Olvarion
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The Mytho-historicity of Ælfwine/Eriol

Post by Meneldur Olvarion »

This started as a digressive search from some mentions made in the audiobook ("The Science of Middle-earth: A New Understanding of Tolkien and His World {Audiobook – April 6, 2021}") which I posted on the FB T-e Teacher's forum [link], although it's genesis lies much further back even before the founding of T-e: I viewed JRRT's "in-story" explanation of how the Legendarium became known to us much better served by the Tale of the Dark Age mariner Ælfwine/Eriol as opposed to just happening to find a translation of Bilbo's Red Book resting in a textual archive somewhere...

However, it seems that most others either don't know this Tale, or don't regard it of much importance (which to me is both "a shame" and "in error" - yes, I can be arrogant like that  ;) ). So, with the hope of sparking a discussion on this issue, I shall post here first a history of the various versions of this Tale, and then an article which goes into a rather 'cultural anthropological' explanation of possible motives of JRRT in using this format, which I happen to agree with.

Comments and discussion welcomed.
___

Textual And Assigned Chronological History

JRRT's Methods And Possible Motives

From what I can determine, the people who don't like this story seem to object to its multiple variants over different time periods (both compositional and assigned), but as a shaman, that is one of the things I like most about it, as the concept of Eternal Return uses just this mode in folklore throughout the planet, and although that term is usually used at cosmological scales, some stories use it in a more compressed manner, including the modern Sci-Fi series Battlestar Galactica.
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Re: The Mytho-historicity of Ælfwine/Eriol

Post by Lúthien »

Hey, this is interesting.
I need more time to read (and digest) those two sources you mention, and I can't access the audiobook (I suppose you can only access that if you're a member of the T-e group, or possibly also a "teacher" there? ) but this is definitely something to pursue.
A! Elin velui, dîn dolog, aduial lúthad!
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Re: The Mytho-historicity of Ælfwine/Eriol

Post by Meneldur Olvarion »

Yes, the Ælfwine finds were the more valuable discoveries spawned by slogging through that audiobook. In fact, I always wanted to make the Ælfwine/Eriol saga the 'official' IV mytho-historical exegesis, as it 1) makes a great deal of sense with regard to primary world English-language cultural diaspora, and 2) it "is the better story" in a Life of Pi sense [link]. I never 'bought' (even when I was 10) JRRT's LOTR-era explanation that the Legendarium came down to us via multiple scribal copies of the Red Book of Westmarch that somehow ended up in an Oxford University archive, which he then discovered by accident. Frankly, that sounds like a bad movie plot to me. The oral-tale transmission to Ælfwine that eventually was written down and preserved in our "Dark Ages" to me is indeed the better story.
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Re: The Mytho-historicity of Ælfwine/Eriol

Post by Lúthien »

Just finished reading Simon Cook's J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lost English Mythology ... it's grand. I'm impressed.
It's not just a delightfully solid and well-researched article but it manages to present the concept of mytho-history in a way that feels just "right". It has everything, it's even academically fully respectable.

I agree, we should work this out for the "Charter"! 

Great find  :party:
 
A! Elin velui, dîn dolog, aduial lúthad!
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Re: The Mytho-historicity of Ælfwine/Eriol

Post by Meneldur Olvarion »

Posting this here so that all relevant information is in one place.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lost English Mythology wrote: For the English are not native to the British Isles; they are immigrants from northern waters. And for four hundred years they had lived amidst the ruins of British-Roman civilization whilst retelling the stories and passing on the songs of their Baltic homeland.

Reference: Kingdoms of Northern Europe: Angeln (Angles)
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Re: The Mytho-historicity of Ælfwine/Eriol

Post by stevelewis1825 »

Wow, I also really enjoyed the Simon Cook article! Makes a lot of sense to me. Very interesting. Thanks!
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Re: The Mytho-historicity of Ælfwine/Eriol

Post by Lúthien »

Hi Steve, good to see you again :)
A! Elin velui, dîn dolog, aduial lúthad!
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Re: The Mytho-historicity of Ælfwine/Eriol

Post by Meneldur Olvarion »

Yes, good to see you again, Steve!

I thought you had "gone missing", as usually when we don't hear from people for over about 2 months, we don't ever hear from them again.
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Re: The Mytho-historicity of Ælfwine/Eriol

Post by stevelewis1825 »

"Every now and then I know it's kinda hard to tell, but I'm still alive and well!" - Johnny Winter
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Re: The Mytho-historicity of Ælfwine/Eriol

Post by Lúthien »

A! Elin velui, dîn dolog, aduial lúthad!
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Re: The Mytho-historicity of Ælfwine/Eriol

Post by Mildir »

Meneldur Olvarion wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 1:00 pm This started as a digressive search from some mentions made in the audiobook ("The Science of Middle-earth: A New Understanding of Tolkien and His World {Audiobook – April 6, 2021}") which I posted on the FB T-e Teacher's forum [link], although it's genesis lies much further back even before the founding of T-e: I viewed JRRT's "in-story" explanation of how the Legendarium became known to us much better served by the Tale of the Dark Age mariner Ælfwine/Eriol as opposed to just happening to find a translation of Bilbo's Red Book resting in a textual archive somewhere...

However, it seems that most others either don't know this Tale, or don't regard it of much importance (which to me is both "a shame" and "in error" - yes, I can be arrogant like that  ;) ). So, with the hope of sparking a discussion on this issue, I shall post here first a history of the various versions of this Tale, and then an article which goes into a rather 'cultural anthropological' explanation of possible motives of JRRT in using this format, which I happen to agree with.

Comments and discussion welcomed.
___

Textual And Assigned Chronological History

JRRT's Methods And Possible Motives

From what I can determine, the people who don't like this story seem to object to its multiple variants over different time periods (both compositional and assigned), but as a shaman, that is one of the things I like most about it, as the concept of Eternal Return uses just this mode in folklore throughout the planet, and although that term is usually used at cosmological scales, some stories use it in a more compressed manner, including the modern Sci-Fi series Battlestar Galactica.

Wow, I didn't know (or did but lost among other details) that Eriol's descendants were called "The Engle", but this seems to have something to do with the Old English word "Englas", meaning "Angels" or "Messengers".
So, Tolkien imagines that the Engle, those because of which England would be called England, were the descendants of Heorrenda, the man who Tolkien deemed likely to have written the Beowulf (and at the same time son of a mariner who visited the Elves, as T. imagines...).

Well, it's many a day I've traveled, a hundred miles or more,
but such a smart connection sure I never saw before... 
 (quotation for those who appreciate the Dubliners:  
Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic 'progress' leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil. (J.R.R. Tolkien)
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