The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Composed at some point after I 510 (the date of the Fall itself)
Race
The people of Gondolin were Elves (the identity of the author of the tale is not known)
Divisions
Culture
Settlements
Pronunciation
Gondolin is pronounced 'go'ndolin'
Meaning

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  • Updated 17 December 2013
  • This entry is complete

‘The Fall of Gondolin

The tale of the end of Hidden City

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"Of the deeds of desperate valour there done ... much is told in The Fall of Gondolin..."
Quenta Silmarillion 23
Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin

The story of the last days of Turgon's Hidden City of Gondolin, the last of the great cities of the Elves to fall to Morgoth in the Elder Days. It lay hidden for many centuries, but Morgoth discovered its location through the treachery of Maeglin, and launched an overwhelming assault.

At dawn his host came without warning across the northern Encircling Mountains. The people of Gondolin were caught unawares but fought valiantly, though there was no hope of defending the Hidden City. In the royal square Ecthelion fought with Gothmog Lord of Balrogs, and each was slain; the tower of the King was broken, and Turgon himself was lost in its fall. Though Morgoth's victory was swift and decisive, a few of the people escaped through a tunnel that led out into the plain of Amon Gwareth. Among these were Tuor and Idril with their young son Eärendil, and these survivors made their way southwards from the ruin of Gondolin to the refuge at the Mouths of Sirion.

The story of the The Fall of Gondolin is referenced as an independent work in The Silmarillion, but we know nothing of its provenance. Given the details it contained, it must have been written by one of the survivors, or at least have been based on their accounts. We know that there was a poet at the Havens of Sirion, Dírhavel, who was famous as the author of the Narn i Chîn Húrin; he would likely have met survivors of the Fall, and so perhaps was the composer of The Fall of Gondolin.

In reality, the story of The Fall of Gondolin was a part of the first cycle of Tolkien's works on Beleriand, with versions dating back as far as 1916 (an early version appears in The Book of Lost Tales 2, the second volume of The History of Middle-earth). It is presumably to this early and expansive version of the story that Tolkien is referring when he mentions the tale in the text of Quenta Silmarillion.


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