Speaking with the tongue of Melkor

Robert Brown

New Member
"For of this summons came many woes that after befell; yet those who hold that the Valar erred, thinking rather of the bliss of Valinor than of the Earth, and seeking to wrest the will of Ilúvatar to their own pleasure, speak with the tongues [read tongue] of Melkor."

It seems to me, that this sentence is being misunderstood. The speaking with the tongue of Melkor is ascribing those motivations to the Valar in summoning the Elves, not in saying that it was an error at all. Indeed, we are told in the immediately preceding clause that much hurt came of the Valar's action--an odd choice of rhetoric for someone seeking to cast them as inerrant. With this reading, the invention of a state of mind of the narrator or positing that Tolkien briefly considered making the Valar infallible is not necessary.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Hi Robert,

Let me try to paraphrase your comment, so that I am sure that I understand it. (Correct me if I get it wrong.)

I think I hear you say: speaking 'with the tongue of Melkor, might apply to those who consider that the Valar erred due to thinking more of the bliss of Valinor rather than of the Earth as a whole; and it might also apply to those who consider that the Valar erred due to seeking to wrest the will of Iluvatar to their own pleasure.

In short, I think that you are saying that those who question the motivations of the Valar are 'speaking with the tongue of Melkor', but those who consider the action of the Valar to have been an error (though well intentioned) are not 'speaking with the tongue of Melkor'.

Is that correct?

If so, I think I agree with you. I suspect that taking some of the Elves to Valinor was an error (compounded perhaps by taking none of the Men to Valinor?). However, I do think it a well intentioned error. So, I like your thought that those who 'speak with the tongues of Melkor' are those who question the motives of the Valar, rather than those who question the wisdom of their actions.
 

Bruc3w4yn3

New Member
"For of this summons came many woes that after befell; yet those who hold that the Valar erred, thinking rather of the bliss of Valinor than of the Earth, and seeking to wrest the will of Ilúvatar to their own pleasure, speak with the tongues [read tongue] of Melkor."

So, let's diagram, because I think that you are 100% hitting the nail on the head. Firstly,

"For of this // *summons* // came many *woes* // that after befell;"

Dependant clause // subject // independent clause // prepositional phrase

In short, woes came from the summons which the Valar issued for the Eldar to come to Valinor (support for Eldar fault).

The following comes after semi-colon, which by definition means the next part is a complete sentence. I want to emphasize this because we will have to reckon with whom we are to apply the clause "speak with the tongues of Morgoth."

yet those who hold that the Valar erred, // thinking rather of the bliss of Valinor than of the Earth, // and seeking to wrest the will of Ilúvatar to their own pleasure, // *speak* with the tongues [read tongue] of Melkor."

Subject // dependent clause // second dependent clause // independent clause

We can see that the first two clauses lack a verb, and therefore must be dependent clauses. The verb in question is "speak." Who is speaking? The only subject in this sentence is those (who hold that the valar erred), which is important, as we already established that this must be a complete sentence.

I hope that this is not getting too deep into the woods for something which is probably already accepted by what Robert Brown has posted, but I know how much Professor Olsen enjoys sentence diagramming, and I have to admit that my brain likes the order of it all. Also please forgive me if some of the "dependent clauses" are more precisely something else, I only wanted to give a cursory illustration that they are not the independent clauses so that they didn't trip me up.
 
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