By Irmo-(Valar)

Tolkien Encyclopedia > Mankind > Beren index > Beren


Beren, etym. either from Bor/Ber (steadfast, loyal) or Bar/Ber (bold). ‘Loyal One’ or ‘Bold One’.

Erchamion, ‘One-handed’, from Er- (one, alone) and Sind. Cam, quen. Kamba (hand).

Also Nereb in the Lay of Leithian as a riddling reversal.


Beren was the son of Barahir, Lord of the Edain in Dorthonion, and Emeldir the Manhearted of the people of Beor the Old. Estimated date of birth: First Era 432. His father Barahir won great renown by his rescue of Finrod Felagund in the Dagor Bragollach, who gave to Barahir his ring in an oath of friendship and assistance. Morgoth had reason to dislike Barahir and maybe had forebodings of what might come from him and his.

After the Battle of the Sudden Flame, Morgoth's attacks on Dorthonion became more and more relentless. All who lived there were killed or forced to flee. In the end only twelve remained to Barahir and these became outlaws with no hope, their bed the heather and their roof the sky. And they abode by the hallowed lake of Tarn Aeluin, and Morgoth could not find them. Then Morgoth ordered Sauron to seek out Barahir and destroy him. And Sauron got to work in his typical way. Avoiding to fight himself, he ordered to take capture Eilinel, the wife of one of Barahir’s companions called Gorlim, and much loved by him. He used this love to force the unhappy Gorlim to betray Barahir’s whereabouts to him.

The Orcs came for them in the early morning and slew them all, save Beren who was sent on a perilous errand by his father. Beren, warned by the wraith of Gorlim the Unhappy, returned too late and found the slain bodies of his father and his companions. But he sought out the Orcs that slew them and recovered his father’s ring, after avenging his father at the Fen of Serech.

For four years Beren then was a solitary outlaw in Dorthonion, but a great champion of all that still dared to oppose Morgoth. Morgoth put a price on his head and sent an army of Orcs headed by Sauron.

And thus it came to pass – 464 years after the first rising of the sun – that Beren son of Barahir was pressed by the pursuing Orcs into the realm of Doriath and there he came upon Luthien in the forest of Neldoreth. And he fell into an enchantment, struck by the beauty of Luthien as by lightning.

Blue was her raiment as the unclouded heaven, but her eyes were grey as the starlit evening; her mantle was sewn with golden flowers, but her hair was dark as the shadows of twilight. As the light upon the leaves of trees, as the voice of clear waters, as the stars above the mists of the world, such was her glory and her loveliness; and in her face was a shining light.’

And when Beren beheld the singing and dancing of Luthien he called out to her, giving her the epitethon by which she would be known: ‘Tinuviel’ (nightingale, daughter of twilight). And there doom fell upon Luthien, and she loved him in return.

Daeron, the minstrel of Doriath, had long loved Luthien and when he espied the couple, he betrayed them to the king. Thingol was then filled with grief, amazement and wrath. And he spoke harshly to Beren, threatening even with death. But Melian the Wise bade him forgo his wrath: ‘For not by you shall Beren be slain; and far and free does his fate lead him in the end, yet it is wound with yours. Take heed!

Then, puzzled and torn, Thingol wrought not only the doom of Doriath, becoming ensnared within the curse of Mandos, but indeed he wrought much of the destinies of many Children of Iluvatar. For he spoke to Beren: ‘Go your way therefore! Bring to me in your hand a Silmaril from Morgoth’s crown; and then, if she will, Luthien may set her hand in yours.’

Though Beren with youthful bravado laughed that for little price do Elvenkings sell their daughters, all present felt that Beren was sentenced to death. And Luthien fell silent and sang no more.

Beren set away, and ‘without hope or counsel’ stumbled into the northern parts of Nargothrond. Threatened by the elves of Finrod, Beren held aloft his father’s ring, claiming friendship with King Felagund. Beren was then brought before the King, and Felagund heard his tale. The elvenking then knew that his oath had come for his death, as he had foretold long ago to Galadriel. And he knew that the sons of Fëanor would not quietly sit by and let things pass, whatever the outcome. ‘Yet my own oath holds; and thus we are all ensnared’.

Beren and Felagund then journeyed to Angband, with ten companions. But as is told elsewhere (see under Felagund ), they were captured by Sauron and imprisoned in the pits of Tol-in-Gaurhoth.

Sensing what happened, Luthien was filled with horror. Learning more about the situation from her mother, Luthien resolved to go and help. But again she was betrayed by Daeron, and Thingol had her enclosed and guarded in the mighty beech of Hirilorn. Luthien then enchanted her guards, and wove a rope from her hair to escape from the tree. And cloaked in grey she then escaped all eyes, almost that is.

For as has been told elsewhere (details under Huan ), she was spotted by the Hound of Valinor, who was in that time a companion to Celegorm and his brother Curufin. The evil brothers were aiming at usurping the ruling power in Nargothrond in Felagund’s absence, and had every intention of letting the King perish in Tol-in-Gauroth. So once again Luthien was imprisoned. But with the help of Huan she escaped once again.

At that time all companions of Beren and Felagund had been slain by the werewolves, and finally the wolf came for Beren. But Felagund succeeded in breaking his bonds and slaying the wolf, yet he was himself mortally wounded. And when the King died in the great tower that he had once himself built, Beren was filled with despair. In that hour Luthien came and sang a mighty song. And Beren answered, before all strength left him, with his song in praise of Valacirca. Luthien then sang a song of greater power, making the island tremble. And Sauron knew who had come...

Sauron sent wolf after wolf and finally Draugluin their sire to take Luthien, but all were slain by Huan. Then Sauron made himself into the mightiest werewolf that yet lived, but Huan beat him. And Sauron had to yield the mastery of the tower to Luthien. Then Beren and Luthien buried King Felagund, and Huan returned to his master Celegorm for that was his doom.

Wandering in the forest of Brethil, Luthien then told Beren that whether he would pursue his quest or not, she would go with him. At that time they were spotted and attacked by Celegorm and Curufin. Curufin succeeded in lifting Luthien to his saddle, but Beren sprang upon the speeding horse. ‘The leap of Beren is renowned among Men and Elves’. Beren was then nigh to death, for Celegorm’s spear was aimed at his heart. But Huan forsook his master and sprang upon Celegorm.

Beren took the famous knife Angrist from Curufin, and then set out to the North... alone. For, despite Luthien’s words, he did not want to risk her harm. And in sight of the peaks of Thangorodrim across the waste of Anfauglith he then sang the Song of Parting. But to his dismay he was answered by Luthien. For with the aid of Huan she had followed him. And when they were alone together Huan counseled Beren to not further try to deny Doom: neither his nor Luthien’s. Huan was not allowed to follow Beren and Luthien further on their road. But by his counsel they dressed themselves in the hame of Draugluin and the winged bat-fell of Thuringwethil. Clad with these terrible raiments they pursued their quest.

Beren and Luthien then passed all perils and reached Angband. And its gates were guarded by Carcharoth, the Red Maw, and Anfauglir, the Jaws of Thirst. Powers of old divinity then possessed Luthien and she succeeded in enchanting the dreadbeast, speaking the unforgettable words: ‘O woe-begotten spirit, fall now into deep oblivion, and forget for a while the dreadful doom of life’.

And thus they arrived in the courts of Morgoth, deep inside the fortress of Angband. And Luthien sang before the throne a song of darkness and set a dream upon the Dark Lord. And Morgoth slumbered... Beren then used Angrist to cut a Silmaril from Morgoth’s crown. Then he made the mistake of trying for the rest of the Silmarils, beyond his vow. In the attempt, Angrist broke, a piece hitting Morgoth's face causing him to groan and stir. In terror, the couple fled to the gate only to meet Carcharoth, who had awakened! Luthien was then completely spent, and Beren once again showed his bravery. Holding the Silmaril before the dreadful Jaws, Beren spoke: ‘Get you gone and fly’. Hesitating just a second, Carcharoth bit off the hand of Beren, swallowing the holy jewel. Carcharoth then became a flame of anguish and torment, and ravingly roamed the woods.

But Beren and Luthien were at peril at the Gates for the hosts of Angand were then awakened. But Huan had bidden the eagles of Thorondor to be watchful, and swiftly they came down and lifted Luthien and Beren from the earth, And they took them to the borders of Doriath, where Huan came to aid them. And the wounds of Beren were healed. And Tinuviel sang and it was spring again.

Beren, who then was called also Erchamion, the one-handed, led Luthien back to the throne of Thingol. And when the King inquired of the quest, Beren answered that it was fulfilled, for a Silmaril was in his hand. Upon which he showed his handless arm, calling himself Camlost, the Empty-handed.

Thingol’s mood was then softened, perceiving the greatness of this Human and his Doom. And together they set out for the hunting of the wolf Carcharoth. And with them went Mablung, Beleg, and of course Huan. They came upon the Red Maw at the falls of the river Esgalduin. There they succeeded in slaying the wolf, but Beren and Huan were mortally wounded. With his last breath Beren put the Silmaril into the hands of King Thingol, saying ‘Now is the Quest achieved and my doom full-wrought’.

They brought Beren son of Barahir and the hound of Valinor on a bier to the feet of Hirilorn, to be met by Luthien. But Beren’s spirit at the bidding of Luthien tarried in the halls of Mandos, and did not forsake the earth. And Luthien’s spirit went to follow him there...where only the undying dead were allowed to stay in waiting. But Luthien sang before Mandos.

In her song Luthien wove two themes of words, of the sorrow of the Eldar and of the sorrow of Men. The song of the Two Kindreds was the most beautiful that ever in the world was woven, and it is still sung in Valinor, unchanged and imperishable. And Mandos was moved to pity, who was never before so moved, nor has been since.

But Mandos had no power to withhold from Beren the Gift of Man, and went before Manwë. And Sulimo sought counsel in his thought, where the will of Eru Iluvatar was revealed. And Luthien was given a choice. She could choose to abide in Valinor, as was her right, but thither Beren was not allowed. Or she could also choose the Mortal Lands at the side of Beren, but only when choosing the fate of Mortality with him.

The latter fate she chose, forsaking the Blessed Realm forever. And after a visit to Doriath, Beren and Luthien went to live on the island of Tol Galen amidst the river Adurant in Ossiriand. The Eldar afterwards called that country Dor Firn-i-Guinar, the Land of the Dead that Live.

And there was born their son Dior Aranel the beautiful, who was also known as Eluchil, which means Thingol’s heir. And Dior had to wife Nimloth, kinswoman of Celeborn, prince of Doriath, who was wedded to the Lady Galadriel. And the sons of Dior and Nimloth were Elured and Elurin; and a daughter they had who was named Elwing, which is Star-Spray.

When, many years later, Thingol was killed by dwarves coveting the necklace bearing the Silmaril, called the Nauglamir, Melian gave up her reign and Doriath was ruined. But before leaving for Valinor she sent word to Beren and Luthien.

Then Beren set out with his son Dior and at the bridges of Sarn Athrad they came upon the dwarves who were transporting the treasures of Doriath. There many of the dwarves were slain and those who escaped were driven back by the Ents beneath Mount Dolmed. In that fight Beren slew the Lord of Nogrod and wrested from him the Nauglamir. The other treasures of Doriath were thrown into the river Ascar, but the Nauglamir was taken to Tol Galen. There Luthien wearing that necklace with the Silmaril became the greatest beauty and glory ever seen outside the realm of Valinor.

Then Dior and Nimloth and their children went to abide at Doriath, once more raising the glory of Menegroth.

When some years had passed, upon a dark evening a messenger of Ossiriand came and demanded admittance to King Dior. And with them he brought a coffer and wordless he gave that to the King and departed. And in that coffer Dior found the Nauglamir with the Silmaril, and thus he knew that his parents had finally departed from this world. And Dior grieved that death had taken them do soon.

But the wise have said that the flame of Luthien wearing the necklace was so great that it was too bright for mortal lands. And so ended Beren Erchamion and Luthien Tinuviel.

But from them came a line of Kings among Elves and Men, in which not only the Two Kindreds were rejoined, but in whom even runs a strain of the blood of the spirits divine, of the Ainur that were before Arda.


Names: Beren-(Valar)’s wordlist ( ) from his Lore Book (later address); the Ardalambion ( )

Bio: J.R.R. Tolkien, Silmarillion, The History Of Middle Earth Vol 3, The Lays of Beleriand.