Why Gondolindrim?

If you’ve read my ‘About’ page you know why I’ve chosen to make this site, but nothing in there explains why I chose the domain Gondolindrim.com.

What’s in a name?

You may be one of those folks (like myself) who needs no explanation as to who the Gondolindrim were or what Gondolin was. If you’re not one of our little club then let me start off by offering an explanation of Gondolin and the Gondolindrim. Better, why don’t I provide you with the relevant text?

It has been told how by the guidance of Ulmo Turgon of Nevrast discovered the hidden vale of Tumladen; and that (as was after known) lay east of the upper waters of Sirion, in a ring of mountains tall and sheer, and no living thing came there save the eagles of Thorondor. But there was a deep way under the mountains delved in the darkness of the world by waters that flowed out to join the streams of Sirion; and this way Turgon found, and so came to the green plain amid the mountains, and saw the island-hill that stood there of hard smooth stone; for the vale had been a great lake in ancient days. Then Turgon knew that he had found the place of his desire, and he resolved to build there a fair city, a memorial of Tirion upon Túna; but he returned to Nevrast, and remained there in peace, though he pondered ever in his thought how he should accomplish his design.

Now after the Dagor Aglareb the unquiet that Ulmo set in his heart returned to him, and he summoned many of the hardiest and most skilled of his people, and led them secretly to the hidden vale, and there they began the building of the city that Turgon had devised; and they set a watch all about it, that none might come upon their work from without, and the power of Ulmo that ran in Sirion protected them. But Turgon dwelt still for the most part in Nevrast, until it came to pass that at last the city was full-wrought, after two and fifty years of secret toil. It is said that Turgon appointed its name to be Ondolindë in the speech of the Elves of Valinor, the Rock of the Music of Water, for there were fountains upon the hill; but in the Sindarin tongue the name was changed, and it became Gondolin, the Hidden Rock. Then Turgon prepared to depart from Nevrast and leave his halls in Vinyamar beside the sea; and there Ulmo came to him once again, and spoke with him. And he said: ‘Now thou shalt go at last to Gondolin, Turgon; and I will maintain my power in the Vale of Sirion, and in all the waters therein, so that none shall mark thy going, nor shall any find there the hidden entrance against thy will. Longest of all the realms of the Eldalië shall Gondolin stand against Melkor. But love not too well the work of thy hands and the devices of thy heart; and remember that the true hope of the Noldor lieth in the West and cometh from the Sea.’

And Ulmo warned Turgon that he also lay under the Doom of Mandos, which Ulmo had no power to remove. ‘Thus it may come to pass,’ he said, ‘that the curse of the Noldor shall find thee too ere the end, and treason awake within thy walls. Then they shall be in peril of fire. But if this peril draweth nigh indeed, then even from Nevrast one shall come to warn thee, and from him beyond ruin and fire hope shall be born for Elves and Men. Leave therefore in this house arms and a sword, that in years to come he may find them, and thus shalt thou know him, and not be deceived.’ And Ulmo declared to Turgon of what kind and stature should be the helm and mail and sword that he left behind.

Then Ulmo returned to the sea, and Turgon sent forth all his people, even to a third part of the Noldor of Fingolfin’s following, and a yet greater host of the Sindar; and they passed away, company by company, secretly, under the shadows of Ered Wethrin, and they came unseen to Gondolin, and none knew whither they had gone. And last of all Turgon arose, and went with his household silently through the hills, and passed the gates in the mountains, and they were shut behind him.

Through many long years none passed inward thereafter, save Húrin and Huor only; and the host of Turgon came never forth again until the Year of Lamentation after three hundred and fifty years and more. But behind the circle of the mountains the people of Turgon grew and throve, and they put forth their skill in labour unceasing, so that Gondolin upon Amon Gwareth became fair indeed and fit to compare even with Elven Tirion beyond the sea. High and white were its walls, and smooth its stairs, and tall and strong was the Tower of the King. There shining fountains played, and in the courts of Turgon stood images of the Trees of old, which Turgon himself wrought with elven-craft; and the Tree which he made of gold was named Glingal, and the Tree whose flowers he made of silver was named Belthil. But fairer than all the wonders of Gondolin was Idril, Turgon’s daughter, she that was called Celebrindal, the Silver-foot, whose hair was as the gold of Laurelin before the coming of Melkor. Thus Turgon lived long in bliss; but Nevrast was desolate, and remained empty of living folk until the ruin of Beleriand.

Chapter 15 – Of the Noldor in Beleriand, The Silmarillion

So now that we’ve established what Gondolin was defining Gondolindrim becomes fairly easy. We can start out by noting that the majority of the word is “Gondolin”, and we know that Gondolin is a place name in Sindarin which means ”hidden rock”. This leaves us with the suffix -rim.

In Grey-elven the general plurals were very frequently made by adding to a name (or a place-name) some word meaning ‘tribe, host, horde, people’. So Haradrim the Southrons: Q. rimbe, S. rim, host; Onod-rim the Ents.

Letter no. 144, 25 April 1954, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

You can also find numerous references to this usage in a truly wonderful document entitled “Sindarin – The Noble Tongue” found on probably the best Tolkien language web site ever: Ardalambion. So now we know that Gondolindrim means the people of Gondolin.

Ok, but why?

Now that we know what Gondolindrim refers to the question becomes why I would choose to use that name for my web site. If I was looking for something more obvious I could have gone with any number of things from Tolkien’s better known works. If I were looking to nerdishly establish some sort of “geek creed” I could have found something much more obscure. While they played an important role in a pivotal moment in the First Age, they did not occupy an enormous place in the story. So why did I choose this name?

As far back as my freshman year in high school, when I first read The Silmarillion, something about Gondolin struck a chord within me and fired my imagination. Maybe it was the magic of a powerful and large host of people disappearing in the night, as it were, to build their strength and issue forth at the moment of greatest need. Maybe it was the nature of the place as a bastion of great strength that did not stand in plain sight but was hidden away, nearly impossible to find. Maybe it was something more, maybe something less, maybe something different. It’s no secret that my time in high school was not one of the happiest in my life, so maybe it was this that made me so attracted to the Hidden Rock. As I learned later I’m a fairly extreme introvert, and there’s something very inward-looking about the Gondolindrim as a whole.

Regardless of the reason, the idea and the story of Gondolin has always been a source of great magic in my imagination, so when it came time to create this site there wasn’t much chance that I wasn’t going to associate it in some way with Turgon’s city. And there you have it.

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