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Manw

Content
Brief Description   
Further Information   
Etymological Notes   
Mythological Notes   
Comments and Annotations   


Brief Description    

The mightiest of the Valar and of the Aratar, Husband of Varda, and Brother of Melkor, his Herald is Enw. Of all the Ainur he is dearest to Ilvatar and understands his intentions best. He has his throne in Ilmarin on Taniquetil from where he looks over the world.

His surname is Slimo, Lord of the Breath of Arda.

Also called the Lord of the Valar, Lord or King of Arda, Lord of the Winds and the Air, the Elder King.


Further Information    

In the LostTales Manw Slimo is on the one hand described rather "spiritually" or "demiurgic" as: ...the deviser of the air, the winds and the ethers of the firmament, often accompanied by the Mnir and the Sruli, the sylphs of the airs and of the winds.

On the other hand he is portrayed - rather "mundane", IMO - as . ... clad in sapphires, ruler of the airs and wind, is held Lord of Gods and Elves and Men, and the greatest bulwark against the evil of Melko.


Etymological Notes    

In the entries in the Quenya- and Gnomish Lexicon (as given in the Appendix of BoLT1) Tolkien elaborates further on Mnir and Manw:

Mnir Not in QL; but GL has mna or mni: the spirits of the air, children of Manweg. Further relations are indicated in the following entry: manos (plural manossin): a spirit that has gone to the Valar or to Erumni (Edhofon). ... Other words are mani 'good (of men and character only), holy' (QL mn 'good (moral)'), mandra 'noble', and Manweg (Q. Manw).

Manw See Mnir. The Gnomish names are Man and Manweg...

HoMeI - Appendix

and on Slimo:

Slimo In QL under the three root-forms SUHYU, SUHU, SUFU 'air, breathe, exhale, puff' are given s 'noise of wind', slim 'wind', and Slimi, -o 'Vali of Wind = Manw and Varda'. This probably means that Manw was Slimo and Varda Slimi, since Varda is called Slimi in the Valar name-list; but in GL it is said that Manw and Varda were together called i Slimi. GL has s 'noise of wind', sultha 'blow (of wind)', but Manw's wind-name is Saulmoth (saul 'a great wind'), which is said to be an older form of later Solmoth; and this '=Q. Slimo.

In Gnomish he is also called Gwanweg (gw 'wind', gwam 'gust of wind'), often combined with Man (see Manw) as Man Wanweg = Q. Manw Slimo. The root GW appears in QL: w 'wind', wanwa 'great gale', wanwavoit 'windy', and in the Valar name-list Manw and Varda are together called Wanwavoisi.

ibid.

Also Manwe's breath seems to have been of great intensity:

Then Melko sprang to his feet shouting in a loud voice and his folk came through all those dismal passages to his aid. Then lashed he at Manw with an iron flail he bore, but Manw breathed gently upon it and its iron tassels were blown backward,
HoMeI - "The Chaining of Melko"

What Tolkien with all these elaborations seems to have been drawing on is the etymological "vicinity" or "relationship" of the meaning of breath, wind and spirit, an issue on which Owen Barfield, one of the Inklings, had thrown some further light in his book Poetic Diction:

Now it is an indisputable fact, the further we look back into the history of the meanings of common words, the more closely we find them approximating to this latter concrete type. Thus, even as recently as the date of the composition of the Fourth Gospel (John, ch. 3, v and viii) we can hear in the Greek πνεϋμα (=pneuma) -- ChW) an echo of just such an old, concrete, undivided meaning. This meaning (and therefore, in this case, practically the whole sense of the passage) is lost in the inevitable double English rendering of spirit (v) and wind (viii).

According to Max Mller, it will be remembered, 'spiritus' - which is of course the Latin equivalent of πνεϋμα, acquired its apparently double meaning, because at a certain early age, when it still meant simply breath or wind, it was deliberately employed as a metaphor to express 'the principle of life within man or animal'. All that can be replied to this is, that such an hypothesis (Mller's, which Barfield is refuting herewith -- ChW) is contrary to every indication presented by the study of the history of meaning; which assures us definitely that such a purely material content as 'wind', on the one hand, and on the other, such a purely abstract content as 'the principle of life within man or animal' are both late arrivals in human consciousness. Their abstractness and their simplicity are alike evidence of long ages of intellectual evolution. So far from the psychic meaning of 'spiritus' having arisen because someone had the abstract idea, 'principle of life' and wanted a word for it, the abstract idea, 'principle of life' is itself a product of the old concrete meaning 'spiritus', which contained within itself the germs of both later significations. We must, therefore, imagine a time when 'spiritus' or πνεϋμα, or older words from which these had descended, meant neither breath, nor wind, nor spirit, nor yet all three of these things, but when they simply had their own old peculiar meaning, which has since, in the course of the evolution of consciousness, crystallized into the three meanings specified - and no doubt into others also, for which separate words had already been found by Greek and Roman times.

Poetic Diction - "Meaning and Myth"


Mythological Notes    

Especially in the LostTales the Valar closely resemble the Aesir, the pagan gods of the Nordic/Germanic mythology and Manw has the the role of Odin (inn) respectively Wotan (Wden). Also Manw's throne at the peak of Taniquetil, Ilmarin, bears a striking resemblence to Odin's high-seat Hlidskjlf within his abode Valaskjlf (Val-father is another name of Odin). Manw's - tidings bearing - hawks and the Eagles remind of Odin's ravens Hugin and Munin (c.f. The Eagles). Ilweran, the "rainbow-bridge" is found in the Eddas as Bifrst and many more such similarities can be found.

Generally, BoLT2 is full of hints and explanations about the origin of the ideas for his early tales, and the relationship between Tolkien's "Mythology for England" and its parallels in the Nordic/Germanic mythology - mainly the Poetic Edda and Sturluson's Edda. The most explicit hint about the connection between Manw and Odin can be found in Christopher Tolkien's annotation in The History of Eriol or lfwine:

It is then said, somewhat inconsequentially (though the matter is in itself of much interest, and recurs nowhere else), that Eriol told the fairies of Wden, unor, Tw, etc. (these being the Old English names of the Germanic gods who in Old Scandinavian form are inn, orr, Tr), and they identified them with Manweg, Tulkas, and a third whose name is illegible but is not like that of any of the great Valar.
HoMeII - "The History of Eriol or lfwine"


ChW
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