How were Eldar in Valinor named?
From: The Tolkien Less FAQ by William D.B. Loos
They had two given names ('essi'), one bestowed at birth by the father, the other later by the mother:
... and these mother-names had great significance, for the mothers of the Eldar had insight into
the characters and abilities of their children, and many also had the gift of prophetic foresight.
In addition, any of the Eldar might acquire epesse ('after-name'), not necessarily given by
their own kin, a nickname - mostly given as a title of admiration or honour; and an epesse might
become the name generally used and recognised in later song and history (as was the case, for
instance, with Ereinion, always known by his epesse Gil-galad).
On why 'Ereinion' ('Scion of Kings' (Unfinished Tales, 436)) was given this epesse:
[Unfinished Tales, 266]
It is recorded that Ereinion was given the name Gil-galad 'Star of Radiance' 'because his helm
and mail, and his shield overlaid with silver and set with a device of white stars, shone from
afar like a star in sunlight or moonlight, and could be seen by Elvish eyes at a great distance
if he stood upon a height'.
[Gil-galad's "device of white stars" is shown in entry 47 of Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien.]
[Unfinished Tales, 217]
The other epesse most familiar to readers of The Lord of the Rings was 'Galadriel', whose
father-name was 'Artanis' ('noble woman') and mother-name 'Nerwen' ('man-maiden') (Unfinished
Tales, 229, 231). As for 'Galadriel', which was the Sindarin form of 'Altariel' (Quenya) and
'Alatariel' (Telerin) (Unfinished Tales, 266):
In the High-elven speech her name was Al(a)tariel, derived from alata 'radiance'
(Sindarin galad) and riel 'garlanded maiden' (from a root rig- 'twine,
wreathe'): the whole meaning 'maiden crowned with a radiant garland', referring to her hair.
[The Silmarillion, 360]
- Unfinished Tales, 217, 229, 231, 266 (all Two, II), 436 (Index)
- The Silmarillion, 360 (Appendix, root -kal)
- Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien, entry 47
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