|First appearance||The Silmarillion|
|Created by||J. R. R. Tolkien|
|Aliases||The Dark Elf|
|Book(s)||The Silmarillion |
The History of Middle-earth
Eöl, called the Dark Elf, is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is introduced in The Silmarillion as an Elf of Beleriand and is a character existing in some form from the earliest to the latest writings.
Eöl, the Dark Elf, was a Sinda and lord of the forest of Nan Elmoth, a fief, north-east of Doriath. Even before he encountered the Dwarves of the Blue Mountains in Eriador, he had close relationships with other Dwarves, whom he met (and learned much forging skills from) along his travel through Middle-earth. When he entered the lands of Beleriand, the Sindar from Doriath recognised Eöl's kinship, and accepted him fairly quickly among the high court of Menegroth, due to his skills.
He was vassal of the High-king of Beleriand, Thingol. Before the wars began he lived in Doriath. When Melian enclosed it with her magic Girdle of Melian to aid its defence he became uneasy and moved to Nan Elmoth outside the Girdle. One of the greatest Elven-smiths of Middle-earth, he forged Anglachel and Anguirel two great, black, magic swords. Made from a meteorite's metal, they can cut all earth-delved iron and have an entrapped sentience. His smithwork rivalled that of the greatest of the Elven-smiths, Fëanor and Celebrimbor, in both fame and fate. One sword, Anglachel, he gave to Thingol as tribute for living in Nan Elmoth and it was eventually used by Túrin to slay Glaurung the dragon. The other sword, Anguirel, he kept for himself. Eöl devised galvorn, a black metal of great strength and malleability, which he fashioned into armour that he wore when he went abroad. He was friend of the Dwarves of Nogrod and Belegost and, until the founding of the realms of the Noldor, all the traffic of goods between the Sindar and Dwarves passed through Nan Elmoth.
He ensnared Aredhel Ar-Feiniel, the wilful sister of Turgon, when, losing her way, she ventured into his forest. He wedded her, not wholly against her will according to The Silmarillion, but by force according to Quendi and Eldar and without informing her family or going through the customs of the Noldor. They had a son Maeglin. Eöl resented the pride and presumptive authority of the Noldor and, given to secrecy much like Turgon, refused permission for Aredhel and Maeglin to leave Nan Elmoth to seek out their Noldorin kin, the sons of Fëanor. Aredhel and Maeglin later left secretly for Gondolin, stealing Eöl's sword, Anguirel. Eöl pursued them and entered the Hidden Way of Gondolin, and was captured by the guards and brought before Turgon, the king. He wished to go away with his son back to Nan Elmoth leaving Aredhel behind. He claimed Maeglin saying that as Turgon was Aredhel's brother, she could stay behind. Turgon would not allow Eöl to leave Gondolin, offering only the choice of staying or dying. Eöl would not acknowledge any authority of Turgon over him and refused to remain, choosing instead death for himself and his son, Maeglin. He tried to kill his son, but his javelin hit Aredhel who stepped in front of Maeglin. She called for her brother to spare Eöl, but the javelin was poisonous and she died before she could speak her last words. Turgon decreed Eöl was to be put to death by being thrown from a cliff. Before he died, Eöl called out a curse on his son for betraying him, that Maeglin should suffer the same fate of his father. The fulfilment of the curse is told in the Fall of Gondolin.
Among Tolkien's earliest writings from around 1916, Eöl is of the Mole-kin of the Gnomes, later to become the Noldor, and his son Meglin is also a Gnome and "of an ancient house". In some much later writings by Tolkien from 1959–60 Eöl was a Mornedhel, an Avar, who descended from the same Second Clan of the Elves as the Noldor, the Tatyar. It is said here that his sword-craft surpasses the Noldor of Aman. Eöl hates and envies his Valinorean cousins, for their arrogance and condescension, as well as their knowledge and accomplishment. Eöl's love for smithying and friendship towards the Dwarves is consistent with Tolkien's view of the Noldor, which are described as Dwarf-friends in the First and Second Ages.
However, in a very late version of the legend, Eöl is again said to be one of the Eldar and appears as such in the published The Silmarillion.