Elf-friends, elf-lords, and a mithril coat

Bruce N H

Active Member
Hey all,

I was just re-listening to last week's class (session 209), the discussion between Bilbo and Frodo after Bilbo gives the mithril coat. After putting on his old traveling clothes over top, Bilbo notes: "‘Just a plain hobbit you look,’ said Bilbo. ‘But there is more about you now than appears on the surface." Frodo is a plain hobbit on the surface, while being armored as an elf-lord underneath.

"Elf-lord" made me think of the "elf-friend" title. Something underneath the surface that some can perceive. Is there a connection here?

BTW, searching through Fellowship, Frodo is specifically named as elf-friend by three people:
Gildor uses the term twice, first upon greeting Frodo: "Hail, Elf-friend!’ he said, bowing to Frodo. ‘Come now with your friends and join our company!" and then at their goodbye: "I name you Elf-friend; and may the stars shine upon the end of your road!" Hmm, was Gildor bestowing the title upon Frodo (the second instance seems like that), or just recognizing something that was already there (the first instance sounds more like that).
Goldberry also uses the term twice, at hello: "But I see that you are an Elf-friend; the light in your eyes and the ring in your voice tells it." and goodbye "And to Frodo she said: ‘Farewell, Elf-friend, it was a merry meeting!’ " Interesting that both Gildor and Goldberry use this title at transitional points, where arguably Frodo is entering and leaving Faerie.
Finally, Elrond uses the term at the Council: "and though all the mighty Elf-friends of old, Hador, and Hu´rin, and Tu´rin, and Beren himself were assembled together, your seat should be among them."

The term gets used two more times in Fellowship.
At Weathertop Frodo talks about the Last Alliance: "With Elendil, the Elf-friend, he went to the land of—— " (here Strider cuts him off). BTW, in that instance, elf-friend is just a translation.
Later, on the borders of Lorien, Legolas is introducing the company: "‘Eight,’ said Legolas. ‘Myself, four hobbits; and two men, one of whom, Aragorn, is an Elf-friend of the folk of Westernesse.’"

So the official Fellowship list of named elf-friends is Hador, Hurin, Turin, Beren, Elendil, Aragorn, and Frodo.


Bruce N H

Active Member
Hey all,

Just to follow up, here are the named "elf-friends" from The Hobbit, Two Towers, and Return of the King:

Elrond! "And so at last they all came to the Last Homely House ... The master of the house was an elf-friend-one of those people whose fathers came into the strange stories before the beginning of History"
The Great Goblin reacts to Thorin bearing Orcrist: "Murderers' and elf-friends!" the Great Goblin shouted. "Slash them! Beat them! Bite them! Gnash them! Take them away to dark holes full of snakes, and never let them see the light again!"
Bilbo, of course, by Thranduil "I will take your gift, O Bilbo the Magnificent!" said the king gravely. "And I name you elf-friend and blessed. May your shadow never grow less (or stealing would be too easy)! Farewell!"
Bilbo is also called this by the narrator (himself?): "for ever after he remained an elf-friend, and had the honour of dwarves, wizards, and all such folk..."

Two Towers: Only one use:
Faramir gives Frodo and Sam a history lesson, including "Hador the Goldenhaired, the Elf-friend".

Return of the King:
Gimli in Appendix A: "He was named Elf-friend because of the great love that grew between him and Legolas, son of King Thranduil, and because of his reverence for the Lady Galadriel."
The Edain in Appendix F: "‘Fathers of Men’, being especially the people of the Three Houses of the Elf-friends who came west into Beleriand in the First Age, and aided the Eldar in the War of the Great Jewels against the Dark Power of the North."
Then in the following paragraph, again the Edain: "it was granted as a reward to the Elf-friends that they also, as the Eldar, might pass west over Sea." and "Most of the Elf-friends, therefore, departed and dwelt in Numenor"
Then more specifically the Numenoreans who followed Elendil: "After the Downfall of Nu´menor, Elendil led the survivors of the Elf-friends back to the North-western shores of Middle-earth."
And the index notes that Elendil literally translates to elf-friend

BTW, this is always hyphenated. There is no instance of "elf friend" (non-hyphenated) in any of these four books, fitting in with the theory that hyphenated words in Tolkien are translations of specific words in Westron or Sindarin.

Question - does that mean that in these cases where someone is called "elf-friend" they are literally using the term "elendil"?