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Comments For Character of the Month Biographies
A neat account of a fascinating and clearly important character. The seafaring capabilities of the Númenóreans is intriguing, and Tolkien gives the reader glimpses of it, suggesting mariners who might surpass the Phoenicians and perhaps approach the great explorers of Spain, Portugal, and Holland during the 15th and 16th centuries (and maybe beyond). Your detailing of Veantur takes these glimpses and creates a whole, giving us a more comprehensive picture of the Númenórean Great Age of Sail.
I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your remarks. I am seriously interested in writing a speculative essay about those glimpses you refer to above of indications of large vessels intending for long distances and heavy cargo. As usual Tolkien's unfinished works often leave contradictions. I believe there were large ships with tall sails and a deep draft which would be efficient for use in sailing to and from Middle-earth during the period of trade and exploitation, if not earlier, and use that concept in a fictional account I am working on relating to Aldarion and Erendis. On the other hand the description of Tar-Pharazon's fleet sailing against the Valar is comprised of another kind of ship altogether.
"Thus the fleets of the Númenóreans moved against the menace of the West; and there was little wind, but they had many oars and many strong slaves to row beneath the lash. The sun went down, and there came a great silence. Darkness fell upon the land, and the sea was still, while the world waited for what should betide. Slowly the fleets passed out of the sight of the watchers in the havens, and their lights faded, and night took them; and in the morning they were gone."
Those seemed reminiscent to me of the Roman-style oar-driven galley warships which participated in Octavian's encounter with Marc Anthony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium. But I am making a wild guess here and would need to do a lot more research. But it fascinates me.
I am so happy you read the Veantur bio and thought it at least raised some of these questions. Thanks!!