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The Ainur sing to Eru Ilúvatar.

The Ainur (meaning The Holy Ones) were the first and most powerful beings created by Eru Ilúvatar, the supreme deity of Arda and Middle-earth.

History[]

The Ainur were the 'offspring of Ilúvatar's thought' and each was given understanding only of that part of the mind of Ilúvatar from which he or she came. The exception to this was Melkor, a brother in spirit to Manwë, who later became The Lord of the Valar. He was given some of the parts from which the others had come, but for all his gifts, he did not know the full mind of Eru. Melkor and Manwë were the most powerful of the Ainur.

The Ainur were 'kindled with the Flame Imperishable', which can be taken to mean that their Creator granted them free will. Ilúvatar instructed them in the arts of music, until he brought them together to make the Music of the Ainur: the great song that created the Vision of Ilúvatar and ultimately the real world. At the beginning of the Music, the Ainur were all in harmony with Eru and one another, but Melkor turned instead to his pride, seeking power for himself and brought discord to the Great Music. He later continued to lead many of the Maiar astray as well.

Through the Music of the Ainur, Ilúvatar created a Vision of the World; he showed it to the Ainur, and explained much of its nature and destiny to them - the Ainur, therefore, have much knowledge of the World, but are not themselves omniscient. Ilúvatar then granted the World true being by declaring "Eä", causing these visions to come into being. Melkor and many of the other mighty Ainur desired to descend into it and form it in readiness for the coming of the Children of Ilúvatar (that is, Elves and Men).  Upon descending into the World, the Ainur became known as the Valar and the Maiar.

Those Ainur who entered the World and chose to live in it at its beginning remain bound to it until its end. Though Melkor was eventually thrown into the Void by the others, he is prophesied to return before the end in the Dagor Dagorath, the final battle. Little is known of the ultimate future of the Ainur, even by themselves, but it is said that after the great battle at the end of the World, they will make a Second, even greater Music with the Children of Ilúvatar.

Among the many Ainur who entered the World long ago, there was one of the order of the Maiar named Melian. Alone of all the Ainur, she wedded one of the Children of Ilúvatar, King Elu Thingol of Doriath, and wove the Girdle of Melian that protected Doriath for many centuries. Through her, an essence of the Ainur entered the bloodlines of the Elves and Men, passed down through generation after generation, and was still present at the time of the War of the ring. Elrond was Melian's great-great-grandson, and Aragorn, too, was her descendant, though through many more generations than Elrond.

Etymology[]

The singular form of Ainur is Ainu, which means "Holy one".




Ainur
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