The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Location
Found growing throughout Middle-earth, but especially near the dwellings of Dúnedain
Origins
Brought to Middle-earth from Númenor during the Second Age1
Pronunciation
a'thelas
Meaning
Uncertain2
Other names

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About this entry:

  • Updated 24 March 2018
  • Updates planned: 1

Athelas

An Elvish name for Kingsfoil

The plant also known as Kingsfoil or asëa aranion. Its leaves had healing properties, but by the end of the Third Age knowledge of its use was all but lost in Middle-earth.


Notes

1

The Númenóreans brought gifts to Middle-earth during their early visits there during the Second Age, and among these were healing herbs. Athelas was evidently one of these: when Aragorn found it growing wild in Eriador, he described it as having been brought to Middle-earth by the Men of the West.

2

The final -las element of the name athelas is unmistakably 'leaf', but the meaning of the initial athe- is far from clear. Given that the plant's name is both Quenya and the Common Tongue meant 'king's leaf' we might reasonably expect athe- to mean 'king', but if so, no such linguistic connection is recorded. Perhaps this element was adapted to Sindarin from asëa in the High-elven name of the plant, asëa aranion. If so, it makes use of the wrong component of that name: asëa means 'leaf', not 'king', and on this model athelas would actually mean 'leaf leaf'.

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 24 March 2018
  • Updates planned: 1

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