The Ill fate of the House of Hurin Thalion.

(Contingencies of Doom Part II)

By Irmo-(Valar) 
Nov. 13, 2000
Part I

    The coming of Eärendil, son of Tuor Huor’s son and Idril Turgon’s daughter, that coming - and therewith the downfall of Melkor and the absolvement of the Curse of the Noldor-, was always a strong possibility in the Ainulindalë, The Music of Making. Yet only a possibility, for the acts of the Atani, the Secondborn, were a crucial element in this coming, an element that the Ainulindalë did not encompass, cf. Silmarillion, p.35:
    “But they (Men) should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else”.
    However, it was a strong possibility that was also known to Morgoth himself. He hated Turgon above all else, because “whenever he drew near a shadow had fallen on his spirit, foreboding that in some time that yet lay hidden, from Turgon ruin should come to him”. (Silmarillion, p. 233) And “his dealings with the House of Hador were not yet ended. Against them his malice was unsated, though Hurin was under his eye”(p.272).
    And that this possibility was clear in the mind of the Valar, of that we can be assured. It was a possibility they aspired to realise as much as Morgoth sought to hinder it.
    On numerous occasions, Ulmo is a guard and advisor to Turgon, not having in mind the sake of Turgon and Gondolin alone. Even he admonishes Turgon to “deal kindly with the sons of the House of Hador, from whom help should come to him at need.” (Silmarillion, p. 184). And long before the actual founding of Gondolin, the sword and mail are in Nevrast: awaiting  for centuries the coming of Tuor. And even Voronwë is by Ulmo saved from the waters, so that he could be Tuor’s guide.
At crucial moments, for instance when Huor and Hurin are still young and trapped by Orcs at the Fords of Brithiach, Ulmo is there to guard their ways. And there also are the eagles, of whom we know that they acted according to the wishes of Manwë and Varda. The eagles bring Huor and Hurin to Gondolin, and are ever watchful around the Echoriath, the mountains encircling Tumladen’s Vale, the plains of Gondolin.
    Even Huor, in the time of his death at the Unnumbered Tears, foretells Turgon: “From you and from me a new star shall arise. Farewell!”

    Yet, the path that events would take was not always so sure. Initially, Ulmo is helping both Turgon and Felagund. And he is helping both Huor and Hurin. Which brings us to the hypothetical question: What if Tuor and Turin would have made other choices in life? What for instance if Tuor had taken up banditing in Nevrast with his newly acquired sword and armor, while Turin would have enamoured Finduilas and guarded the safety of Nargothrond? Could Gil-Estel, the star of hope, also have come from such contingencies?
    Of course, Morgoth himself put quite a bit of weight against this contingency, keeping Hurin prisoner for twenty-eight long years, taunting him constantly and cursing him and his kin. Turin, hearing of this, calls himself “Son of Úmarth”, son of ill fate.
    On the other hand, the Eldar involved don’t make that much of a difference? Both Turgon and Orodreth choose to ignore the final warnings of Ulmo, and both Idril and Finduilas are in love with their human guests (Tuor resp. Turin). A big difference is that while Tuor advises Turgon in vain about his peril, Turin is himself a peril to Orodreth and Nargothrond. And indeed, Turin is a peril to so many he meets, friends and foes alike.
    Though the possibility of Gil-Estel is a firm one within the Ainulindalë, the eventual outcome is also a result of the unpredictable choices of Men, the Free People.

    But can we not say that the curse of Melkor proved mighty indeed, cursing Hurin and Turin and therewith, in the end, causing the downfall of both Nargohtrond and Doriath? Hurin was called Thalion, the Steadfast, and Turin called himself Turambar, Master of Fate, but in the end the Curse of Morgoth proved stronger even than they?

    Melkor did curse Hurin and his kin, but in the end Turin did make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. Mishap was his fate altogether, the deaths of Saeros and Beleg were hardly his fault. But why call himself Neithan The Wronged after the accidental death of Saeros, not trusting the justice of Thingol and Melian? Why call himself Agarwaen son of Úmarth, instead of honoring the death of Beleg Cuthalion with taking a quite different name? And why, when it should have become clear to him that he proved himself definitely not to be the master of even his own fate, overproudly call himself Turambar?
    Melkor assails Turin in horrid ways, and the plot engineered against him by Glaurung is a brilliant masterpiece of evil. But he needed not to have killed Brandir nor Brodda. Pride made him look into the eyes of the dragon, pride and overconfidence made him lay open the ways of Nargothrond to its assailers. There was rage within himself. And as Turin heeded the words of the dragon and his soul was poisoned, so in the end his father Hurin listened to Morgoth and became his Enemy's tool. For Hurin needed not to have slain the Petty Dwarf,  Mîm, even if it was at all his right to avenge his son’s betrayal. And then perhaps the Nauglamir would not have come to Doriath, which turned to peril for Thingol and Melian.

    Lots of “Ill Fate”, úmarth,  was laid out in the Ainulindalë in the case of the Oath of Fëanor. But though men, the secondborn of the Eruhini, were caught in the webs, they were still free to make their own choices. The Úmarth of Hurin and his children was partly laid out in the Ainulindalë, and heavily influenced by Morgoth, but in the end huge parts of this Úmarth were realised by themselves. Turin could have been to Doriath and Nargothrond what Tuor was for Gondolin et vice versa. Gil-Estel was always a possibility, but might in principle also have come from the House of Hurin.

    Yet how happy we are, that in the end the outcome of the War of Wrath made true Hurin’s cry, uttered seventy times by him at the Nirnaed Arnoediad: “Aurë entulava!” And indeed, the day came:}. And despite their Umarth and ill choices, Hurin and Turin stand out as two of the greatest characters of the Silmarillion .

    On a side note: The hypothetical lines of history explored above were even a distinct possiblity within the Silmarillion itself. For in earlier versions of the Lays that grounded the SIL, we meet Turin as the slayer of Ancalagon (instead of Eärendil), and also, we meet Gil-Galad as a surviving son of Orodreth. (cf. The History of Middle Earth Vol. 12, passim). And in the History of Middle Earth,, Vol. 3,  p.145, even we stumble upon a description of Eärendil as “Son of Fengel” (Thingol?). Long it was uncertain in Tolkien's mind, how the fate of the realms of Beleriand would be met, and the role of both Eldar and Atani therein. But the Silmarillion is his beautiful answer to the contingencies of his creativeness. To us however, are also the contingencies of speculation.

References: Silmarillion, History of Middle Earth Vols. 3 and 12