[personal profile] elvenpiratelady
Okay, so this is what happens when you try to ground things in the Silmarillion in reality, and I really should have stopped myself from trying to apply reality to the tale of Beren and Luthien, but here it is anyway.

Okay, so Beren and Luthien's story - it sits on the far end of the Sliding Scale of Historical Account vs Myth that is the Silmarillion. So I can accept that Beren falls in love with Luthien on sight, and that she's the most beautiful being to ever exist, and that Beren makes it through Ungoliant's valley alive and walks straight through the girdle of Melian, and I can accept that the two of them and Huan pulled a con on Morgoth and lived to tell it, and that they returned from the dead and everything else. This is the most mythic of the myths, and that's standard mythology tools right there, but then I read something that completely pulled me out of it:

  • Thereafter for four years more Beren wandered still upon Dorthonion, a solitary outlaw; but he became the friend of birds and beasts, and they aided him, and did not betray him, and from that time forth he ate no flesh nor slew any living thing that was not in the service of Morgoth.

Are we seriously expected to believe that Beren singlehandedly managed to fight a guerilla war in Dorthonion on a diet of leaves?

Now bear with me here - of course it is possible, in this day and age, to eat an entirely vegetarian diet and be completely healthy. But the human communities in the Silm are at a stage of medieval techonology at best and probably knew very little of nutrition. Thanks to Man vs Wild I know now that thyme is rich in iron, but Beren's a warrior. Warriors need protein and fat to be in fighting condition, and with a hunter-gatherer lifestyle that Beren's living at the moment, that means meat.

So Beren has to get his nutrients from somewhere. Unless there was a thriving tofu industry in Dorthonion that we don't know about, he won't be able to eat a completely vegetarian diet. (Chickpeas and other pulses have their uses, but you need to be around to grow and harvest them. Beren doesn't have that luxury.)

Except I really wonder where he would get it from. Do fish count as birds or beasts? Did Beren end up eating dead animals that he'd found? Did he accidentally happen to set traps and shoot arrows into bushes? When they caught an animal, well it was sad but there's no point in wasting meat, he reasoned. But really, there's not enough meat coming in from these sources, and there are any number of orcs wandering around Dorthonion now, so maybe he'd reason that he could find a new source of meat and reduce the number of enemies he had to fight in one swoop...

Yes, your honour, I am insinuating that Beren started eating orcs. It's not cannibalism, after all.

It's not unfounded! I have quotes!

  • At length Morgoth set a price upon his head no less than the price upon the head of Fingon, High King of the Noldor; but the Orcs fled rather at the rumour of his approach than sought him out.

Now see, since orcs aren't scared of empty countryside, I can only assume that some them found the charred remains of their comrades lying around the place and came to the obvious conclusion. Honestly, if you were just an orc grunt soldier, would you go and risk getting eaten by some monster in Dorthonion? No, you let the werewolves and the crack soldiers deal with it.

So if I have not ruined this story enough for you, I suspect that Beren eventually converted Luthien to the wonders of orc meat. There isn't much to eat on the road to Angband, after all. This would also explain why they moved so far away from Doriath when they returned from the dead, apart from the shared desire of newlyweds across time and space to avoid the in-laws. Somehow I doubt that Thingol would have let Luthien marry a known orc-eater even if Beren came back with all three Silmarils and Morgoth's head.

Let the record also show:

  • Then Beren and Luthien went forth alone, fearing neither thirst nor hunger; and they passed beyond the River Gelion into Ossiriand, and dwelt there in Tol Galen the green isle, in the midst of Adurant, until all tidings of them ceased... No mortal man spoke ever again with Beren son of Barahir; and none saw Beren or Luthien leave the world, or marked where at last their bodies lay.

I imagine that if the orcs ever got to making horror movies, Beren and Luthien would appear as the sweet couple the group of orcish teenagers meet at the start of the film who eventually help the monster hunt the last of them down. So I will end on an image of them cheerfully drinking tea from cups they carved out of orc skulls and Luthien Tinuviel gnawing on an orc arm with bits of meat stuck between her teeth while Beren son of Barahir cooks orc steaks on the fire.

There's nothing like domestic bliss, is there?
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May 2012


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