The Silmarillion Writers' Guild :: Seven in '07, A Tribute to the Creativity Inspired by the House of Fëanor

Sons of Fëanor - Celegorm by Breogán
"Sons of Fëanor - Celegorm" by Breogán.

Over the course of The Silmarillion, Celegorm--the third son of Fëanor--evolves from a loyal follower of Oromë to one of the most nefarious of the Eldar. Typically considered by fans to be appropriately classed as one of the bad-boy Fëanorians among the "three Cs", the evolution and final presentation of the character of Celegorm nonetheless conveys a character of complex motivations who possesses perhaps the most diverse talents of any of the sons of Fëanor.

My brother calls it diplomacy, but I am the true master of it. This was not what father intended! There is an oath to be lived up to, a legacy to be cherished! I know I have to accept this. But being so close to this desire, so close to that power when all thought Maedhros gone. But then there is Maglor; he knows my intentions too well.

None of my brothers know what true diplomacy means. None of my brothers can ever understand how it feels to have subjects yield to your wisdom and knowledge. Little they know … yet.
"True Diplomacy" by Rhapsody the Bard

Celegorm is called "the fair" in The Silmarillion, an epithet that appeared early in the development in his character and made it through to the published version. While early evidence suggests that Tolkien intended Celegorm to have golden "gleaming hair" (HoMe 3, Lay of Leithian, Canto VI and the translations of names into Old English given in HoMe 4), whether this was meant to survive into the published version is subject of fan debate. More certainty can be given to Celegorm's personality and skills. His Quenya name Turkafinwë Tyelkormo given in The Shibboleth of Fëanor (HoMe 12) indicates that he was strong in body and hasty in his temper. According to The Silmarillion, he was an avid hunter as far back as his days in Valinor, where he followed Oromë and often went to his house.

Turco by Oloriel
"Turco" by Oloriel.

From his love of nature, the idea was derived that Celegorm also knew how to speak all of the languages of the birds and beasts on earth. Indeed, Celegorm more so than any of the brothers seems to possess his father's gift not only for languages but for persuasive speaking. Twice in The Silmarillion, the passionate words of Celegorm rouse his audience to (not entirely wise) action. And so from the outset of The Silmarillion--before the Noldor have left Valinor even--we are given a character with a strong physical presence, a unique attachment to one of the Valar, and gift for speech akin to that of Fëanor.

Playing Tag with Huan by Noliel
"Playing Tag with Huan" by Noliel.

Upon arriving in Beleriand, Celegorm alone of the sons of Fëanor is mentioned for special prowess in the Battle-under-stars where he destroyed a large contingent of Morgoth's army. Celegorm's role in the story diminishes for a time after that, making way for the political maneuverings of his eldest brother Maedhros. Along with the other sons of Fëanor, after Maedhros forgoes the crown to Fingolfin, Celegorm resides in eastern Beleriand. In Himlad, he lives with his brother Curufin, and together, they hold this realm until the Battle of Sudden Flame drives them to seek haven in Nargothrond.

Celegorm hunting - 'Ambarussa! Bedtime!' by Marie Bebe
"Celegorm hunting - 'Ambarussa! Bedtime!' " by Marie Bebe.

Celegorm is mentioned specially also as the friend of Aredhel, and it was Celegorm whom she sought after leaving Gondolin. The two characters are portrayed throughout the drafts and into the published Silmarillion as having a close friendship, and in the Maeglin section of Volume 11, Celegorm aids Aredhel and Maeglin in their escape from Eöl by lending horses and attempting to waylay Eöl when he attempts to cross Himlad.

Cousin Finrod entered the room in a blond flurry. “Sorry to keep you waiting, cousins mine,” he said, and they knew that he had been consulting with his lords, lords who--if the brothers moved their game pieces with their characteristic precision--would soon count Celegorm and Curufin among their numbers. “What happened to you?” Finrod couldn’t even wait until his backside had entirely touched the chair opposite them before asking.

“Himlad was overrun by Orcs.” Curufin spoke, not trusting Celegorm’s meandering way with tales and tendency to exaggerate his own part until a five-minute episode took an hour to recount. “We fled; they pursued. For many nights, we engaged in battles in the wild, always outnumbered, our host falling one by one to their crude weapons--”

"Curufin took a strong blow to the head,” Celegorm said, and Curufin rubbed his scalp.

“Yes, and Celegorm was ensnared in a trap and nearly ravaged.”

“Always have I suffered as the pretty one,” Celegorm pouted.

“It sounds terrible!” Finrod exclaimed.

“It was,” the brothers said in unison.

“But now,” said Curufin, “we have come to the secret safety of your halls, good Finrod, and we have no cause to fear to sleep any longer.”

“You are welcome to stay, for always I welcome kin,” said Finrod. “I assume you will eventually wish to go to your brother Maedhros in Himring?”

The brothers did not exchange a look but the air between them sizzled as though they had.
Excerpt from The Election Farce of Nargothrond by Dawn Felagund

Doubtlessly, however, Celegorm's most prominent role in the history of the Noldor concerns his deeds in Nargothrond. Following the Battle of Sudden Flame, he fled to Nargothrond with Curufin, and they were welcomed by their cousin Finrod and quickly gained a powerful following. When Finrod sought to keep his oath to Barahir by aiding Beren in recovering a Silmaril, it was Celegorm whose impassioned speech convinced all but ten of the people of Nargothrond to forsake their king. Here, the words of Celegorm were "as potent as were long before in Tirion the words of his father that first inflamed the Noldor to rebellion" ("Of Beren and Lúthien"). Here also begins the machinations of Celegorm and Curufin to send Finrod to his death, take over Nargothrond--the largest realm in Beleriand--and gather power once more to the House of Fëanor.

Ripped from my chest my heart is bleeding
My soul is crushed ‘neath your feet
Why, fair maiden, sweet Lúthien, my true love
Did you run from my arms
To him?

What made you run to the arms of a mortal,
When a firstborn offered his soul?
Why did you allow your beauty to wane
Seeking solace in the arms
of a man?
Excerpt from Mourning Lúthien by Ford of Bruinen

After Finrod left Nargothrond, Celegorm's hound Huan found Lúthien fleeing along the borders of Doriath and returned her to her master. Thinking she had found allies in the Noldorin princes, she cast aside her enchanted cloak, and Celegorm fell in love with her. With Curufin, he brought her back to Nargothrond and held her captive, intending to force her into marriage to also gain power in Doriath. However, Huan betrayed his master and aided Lúthien's escape, and learning the truth of Celegorm and Curufin's deeds, the people of Nargothrond at last cast them out of the kingdom and gave their loyalty to Finrod's brother Orodreth.

Celegorm and Curufin, intending to return to Maedhros in the east, encountered Beren and Lúthien on the way, and Beren attempted to kill Curufin after Curufin's thwarted abduction of Lúthien, it was Celegorm who saved his brother's life. Huan, however, impeded Celegorm from killing Beren, and the hound at last turned on his master.

From this, Celegorm and Curufin developed a strong hatred of Thingol and Doriath, vowing to kill anyone from that realm whom they found. When word arrived that Dior of Doriath kept a Silmaril, it was Celegorm's impassioned words that drove his brothers to launch the second kinslaying against Doriath. Here, Celegorm managed to kill Dior but died from the wounds that Dior inflicted upon him, the follower of Oromë and lover of the natural world forgotten in lieu of a traitor and a kinslayer.

Oh, how he hated this. The sling limited his movements, leaving him wondering if he ever could pull the bowstring taut after his arm would heal. How did it come to this: a wounded army scattered and humiliated as the unexpectedly trustworthy Naugrim held their rearguard. The sour defeat; the not knowing and fleeing, even though all knew there had been no other option.

Celegorm shifted uneasily and watched how his younger brothers huddled around the campfire bandaged and sore. None had spoken much once the sun sank, tired as they all were, but not as restless as he was.

“Thusly we wander as leaves before the wind,” Maglor said once they released the men from duty, eager as they were to see what was left of their homes. Now here they sat, the seven mighty sons of Fëanor, once glorious scions of a mighty house passing through the green woods of the Laiquendi who refused to be lead. Something needed to be done. Maedhros’ eyes glared at him once he rose to his feet, knowing that a warning should follow suit. None came.

“Will you even refuse to lead us, brother?” Celegorm whispered and knew his time had come.
"Vengeance's Folly" by Rhapsody the Bard

So long have I yearned for them, fought for them. And now one is within my grasp. Its beauty ignites the fire of desire, which surges in my fëa. The ethereal flame seduces me to once again commit the unforgivable assassination of a fellow kinsman.

It will be I, Celegorm the Fair who will bring the Silmaril back to us, the rightful owners, the Sons of Fëanor. My name will become legend, a champion of the Noldo. No longer will I carry the dishonor that has stained my name like the blood of my people stains my hands.

Dior, son of the treacherous Beren, displays Nauglamir around his neck boldly and he will pay for his audacity. He faces me and with deadly force I drive my blade deep into his chest. As triumph fills my heart, pain screams through my body and I look down in disbelief at the dark stain spreading quickly across my gut. I hear Curufin's mournful curse and, sinking to the ground, my gaze falls upon my brothers one last time. Tears stain my cheeks. With the last of my energy I reach for my spectral mistress. One last breath left, my hand falls short.
"Darkness Falls in the Thousand Caves ~ Celegorm's Fate" by Alassante

Celegorm's role in the events in Nargothrond underwent a peculiar evolution as J.R.R. Tolkien developed The Silmarillion over the course of his life. In the A-text of The Lay of Leithian, Celegorm played the role that would later be given to Finrod Felagund. It was Celegorm who was rescued by Barahir at the Battle of Sudden Flame, and Celegorm who swore an oath to him (in addition to the Oath of the Fëanorians) and gave Barahir a ring as a sign of his promise. The ring is identical to the Ring of Barahir that appears in The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings: two serpents entwined. Only now, it was identified as being made by Fëanor and as a crest that belonged to his house.

Following his oath to Barahir, Celegorm with Curufin founded Nargothrond, and so it was to Celegorm that Beren made his plea for aid. The conflict of two disparate oaths now belongs to one man--versus two powerful characters with conflicting motives--and Celegorm chooses his oath to Barahir when Beren arrives, requesting aid. He gives Beren Noldorin guides and also a magic knife that he will use to cut the Silmaril from Morgoth's crown.

Celegorm by Silidir
"Celegorm" by Silidir.

When Felagund later took this role, the story began to evolve into the more sinister published version. Celegorm's motivations slowly changed: At first, he captured Lúthien for love of her and returned her cloak to her, though he refused her further aid. Later, of course--influenced by Curufin--he had political motivations in desiring marriage with her as well and Huan took his role in facilitating her escape. The "magic knife" used to cut the Silmaril from Morgoth's crown is not given by Celegorm but taken from Curufin as punishment for his foul treatment of Lúthien. And so we come to the story as it is published in The Silmarillion, where Celegorm and Curufin have evolved from complex characters with complex motives into villains.