The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien


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  • Updated 29 April 2010
  • Updates planned: 2

Flammifer of Westernesse

Bilbo‘s description of Eärendil

"...for ever still a herald on
an errand that should never rest
to bear his shining lamp afar
the Flammifer of Westernesse.
The closing lines of the Song of Eärendil
The Fellowship of the Ring II 1
Many Meetings

A poetic term devised by Bilbo Baggins to describe Eärendil the Mariner, sailing the skies in his ship Vingilot with the shining Silmaril bound to his brow. The word 'flammifer' in this context means 'light-bearer' or 'torch-bearer', and its particular connection with Westernesse evokes Eärendil's role in guiding the first Númenóreans to their new home in the early Second Age. Bilbo's poem goes further than recalling this single incident, however, and Eärendil's 'errand that should never rest' (ibid) is to continue to give light to the World as the Evening and the Morning Star.

In fact flammifer is Tolkien's own coinage, from Latin roots that indicate 'flame-bearer' or 'light-bearer' (though in Latin itself, flammifer just means 'fiery'). The name has an etymological connection with the name Lucifer (which means 'light-bearer', and was also associated with the Morning and Evening Star) though that connection apparently does not extend beyond the words' origins and their relations to the planet Venus.

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