Legolas of Gondolin

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Lived during the First Age

Legolas of Gondolin

by Varda-(Valar)
Feb. 7, 2003, additions Nov. 23, 2004

    Legolas of the Fellowship was probably taken by JRRT from an earlier idea of a keen-eyed Legolas Greenleaf who was a guide in Book of Lost Tales 2, an elf of Gondolin.
    This character was of the House of the Tree in Gondolin.  He is not mentioned until the destruction of Gondolin in FA 511. How bad was that? It is said:

    "its ruin was the most dread of all the sacks of cities upon the face of Earth. Nor Bablon, nor Ninwi, nor the towers of Trui, nor all the many takings of Rum that is greatest among Men, saw such terror as fell that day upon Amon Gwareth in the kindred of the Gnomes; and this is esteemed the worst work that Melko has yet thought of in the world."
    -Book of Lost Tales 2 "Fall of Gondolin"

    Legolas was night-sighted and knew all the plain by light or dark. He and the tiny remnant of eight-hundred survivors whom he led from the ruin of Gondolin were swift and hardy. The refugees were mostly men, as the women had been hidden in supposedly safe places in Gondolin, trapping them unintentionally. These women were exceptionally beautiful "as fair as the sun and as lovely as the moon and brighter than the stars" according to BoLT 2 "Fall of Gondolin". This suggests their menfolk would also have been of such a nature. Earendil was among them, born FA 504, so he was then seven years old.
Legolas' "eyes were like cats' for the dark, yet could they see further." He traveled ahead of the group with Galdor's spearmen to help them see ahead. Glorfindel helped in the equally dangerous task of bringing up the rear.
    The refugees were ambushed in the rocks of the mountains where they could not see, and Glorfindel and a Balrog killed each other. Then the refugees were aided by the King of Eagles, Thorondor, and his people. Afterwards many of the survivors took the symbol of the Eagle in sign of their joy, including Earendil's mother Idril (daughter of Turgon), although Earendel (later written "Earendil") kept the Swan-wing of his father Tuor. This suggests Legolas of that time probably changed from the Swan-wing to the Eagle symbol.
    With the aid of Ulmo's visions through Voronwe and Tuor, they found their way through confusing magics into the
Land of Willows where the slightly over five-hundred survivors of the trip recuperated. There the sea-longing came on Tuor and Earendil.
    Then Ulmo led them, using Tuor, along the River Sirion to the Sea on the coasts of Avernien. They joined with the remnants of Doriath who were led by Elwing, and among the colony sometimes came Cirdan's mariners from Balar.
    There at the mouths of River Sirion they settled, taking up the name of the People of the Flower, the Lothlim, because the old name of Gondothlim was a name too sore to their hearts. There Earendil grew, nurtured to become the savior of elves and men, the prophesied return link to the Valar from whom the Noldorian exiles were estranged. Legolas would have known Earendil. According to the Silmarillion, the colony learned from Cirdan's mariners to build ships, and they took to the waves.
    After the terrible destruction of the colony at the mouths of Sirion by the sons of Feanor, the few survivors joined themselves to
Gil-galad (High King of the Noldor after Turgon's death in Gondolin). Gil-galad and Cirdan came too late to save the Elves of Sirion, but took them back to Balar (Silmarillion) or Tol Eressea (BoLT). Legolas was there called Laiqalasse.

    For Legolas of Gondolin to be the same person as Legolas of the Fellowship, he would have had to die and be reborn without memory, although perhaps retaining some skills from his first life.
    One might have been the making of the ships that could go to Valinor, as he was probably one of those helping Cirdan's people build ships on Tol Eressea. We know that in Return of the King, Legolas built such a ship with which he and Gimli sailed to Valinor.
    Another might have been his exceptional eyesight and abilities as a guide in the wild.
    Since his contemporary, Glorfindel, was reborn into Middle-earth, it is within the realm of possibility that Legolas was purposely sent back without memory baggage to be a better help to the Fellowship.
    The Legolas name is of very unusual construction and was not used that we know of except on these two occasions.
    Even though no mention is made of any such re-birth, it is possible. It is also possible that JRRT lifted the character from these notes that he did not expect to publish, which could be why any mention of Legolas in Gondolin in the Silmarillion was dropped. And yet again, Legolas may have been dropped from the Silmarillion in the same manner a huge host of other details were dropped, to fit into one book the notes that became the twelve volumes of Histories of Middle-earth and the Unfinished Tales.

 Lord of the Rings
 Silmarillion "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin", "Of the Voyage of Earendil"
 Book of Lost Tales 2: "Fall of Gondolin"
 Letters of JRR Tolkien #211, #297

See also Stories (fan fiction): Legolas Reborn