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  • Elladan and Elrohir:The Dioscuri in The Lord of the Rings
  • Sherrylyn Branchaw (bio)

In J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Elladan and Elrohir are the twin sons of half-elven lord Elrond. The index records a small number of passages1 in the text and appendix where they are found. Most of these passages are mundane, describing who brings up the rear of a company, or who bears the torches. In the contentful passages, the only way in which the sons of Elrond advance the plot is to bring a message from their father to Aragorn. They accompany him on the Paths of the Dead and in the final battle, but they do not stand out more than, say, Halbarad the Dúnadan. These passages, though, few as they are and unremarkable as they may seem, provide a mythological background to the sons of Elrond that is as rich and resonant as any in Middle-earth, a background that is elaborated on and supported by Tolkien's posthumously published works, such as the Silmarillion and The History of Middle-earth.

I provide here the six passages to be analyzed in detail.

  1. 1. So it was that Frodo saw her whom few mortals had yet seen; Arwen, daughter of Elrond, in whom it was said that the likeness of Lúthien had come on earth again; and she was called Undómiel, for she was the Evenstar of her people. Long had she been in the land of her mother's kin, in Lórien beyond the mountains, and was but lately returned to Rivendell to her father's house. But her brothers, Elladan and Elrohir, were out upon errantry: for they rode often far afield with the Rangers of the North, forgetting never their mother's torment in the dens of the orcs (FR, II, i, 221).

  2. 2. The sons of Elrond, Elladan and Elrohir, were the last to return; they had made a great journey, passing down the Silverlode into a strange country, but of their errand they would not speak to any save to Elrond (FR, II, iii, 267).

  3. 3. There came Legolas, and Gimli wielding his axe, and Halbarad with the standard, and Elladan and Elrohir with stars on their brow (RK, V, vi, 123).

  4. 4. In 2509 Celebrían wife of Elrond was journeying to Lórien when she was waylaid in the Redhorn Pass, and her escort being scattered by the sudden assault of the Orcs, she was seized and carried off. She was pursued and rescued by Elladan and Elrohir, but [End Page 137] not before she had suffered torment and had received a poisoned wound. She was brought back to Imladris, and though healed in body by Elrond, lost all delight in Middle-earth, and the next year went to the Havens and passed over Sea. And later in the days of Arassuil, Orcs, multiplying again in the Misty Mountains, began to ravage the lands, and the Dúnedain and the sons of Elrond fought with them (RK, Appendix, I, iii, 323).

  5. 5. [T]he Riders hunted them over the plains of Calenardhon. In the forefront of the charge they saw two great horsemen, clad in grey, unlike all the others, and the Orcs fled before them; but when the battle was won they could not be found, and none knew whence they came or whither they went. But in Rivendell it was recorded that these were the sons of Elrond, Elladan and Elrohir (Peoples, 73).

  6. 6. rond meant a vaulted or arched roof, or a large hall or chamber so roofed. … It could be applied to the heavens, hence the name Elrond 'star-dome' (S, 363).

I compare the above quotes to the features of the divine twin myths presented in Donald Ward's The Divine Twins: An Indo-European Myth in Germanic Tradition (1968). Ward first lays out the elements of myths concerning twins that are found in traditions throughout the world, beginning with the fact that the birth of twins is considered an event requiring supernatural explanation. In many cases, this explanation takes the form of supposing that a divinity fathered one or both twins, who...


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