The Mythic Well II: Comparison List
A. The words for seas and stars seem frequently to be used interchangeably. This might be a peculiar anomaly were it not for Draal's comment in Voice in the Wilderness that he has come into space to "seek the Sea". This remark was so thoroughly and overwhelmingly Elvish in overtone that numerous Tolkien fans picked up on and queried it. Straczynski offered this explanation (which probably raised more suspicions than it quelled): Re: going to the sea...in early Minbari history, pre-space flight, when someone felt he had outlived his usefulness in his own society, he would set sail beyond the horizon, hoping to bring his knowledge to another place which could use it. These were voyages from which they would never return. With the arrival of space travel, the range they could travel was greatly expanded. jms
B. In this comparison of Entil'zha with Earendil, I have chosenmostly to ignore the name, Sinclair. To do otherwise would be to open up the whole box and dice of triple encryption which I feel is a bit premature at this stage. The main reason I will be concentrating on species for some time hereafter is because - while Straczynski's statement that there is no one-to-one correspondence between B5 and any other story is quite true - there is (to all practical purposes) an isomorphic relationship between the aliens of B5 and the races of Tolkien's Middle Earth. Thus, the comparisons are much easier to delineate here. This one-to-one congruence is not generally the case, however, since in most instances (and certainly in the case of all the major characters and places) there is a three-to-one correspondence. Indeed my inclusion of Valen with Entil'zha already muddies the waters considerably, as it seems to me that Valen should have had a storyline similar to that of Beren - while, of course, it is manifestly Sheridan who is following so closely in Beren's footsteps. Still, if such things as Sinclair's facial scar intrigue you, you would do well to by-pass the history of Earendil and look instead to that of Hurin the Steadfast. And if the whole tenor of Sinclair's leadership is inexplicable, try the story of Theoden King, Lord of the Mark. "Are you an idle king... ...or a grey spirit...?" For those of you who thought that that was merely Tennyson for the sake of Tennyson, it's time to think again.
C. *** denotes a minor fourth season spoiler, though if you didn't suspect this, you haven't been paying attention.
D. The internet version of this comparison and contrast does not allow for correct depiction of spellings in all formats. Thus if Earendil is missing an umlaut over the `a', please mentally supply the two dots required.
Entil'zha / Valen
- Entil'zha translates principally as Morning Star (fromstar at the point of dawn), but may also translate as star lover in the dawn or star toe in the dawn. The elements, `en', `til' and `z' correspond to star, moon and sun, indicating Light in three-fold form.
- Some possible translations of Valen are time traveller or the one who powers the stars or angel of the stars; the middle power; the middle angel. Valen is a human who became Minbari. According to Delenn, he opened the door by which Minbari souls could be reborn in human form and her own change to part-human, part Minbari was in some measure to redress the balance. Some of the possible interpretations above very strongly imply that Valen is/was/will become a Vorlon.
- Jeffrey David Sinclair became Valen. Sinclair means - as a Minbari word - light of the grey; light-weaver of the grey seas or commander of the seas of light. See note A above on `seas' and `stars'. Jeffrey probably means commander of the day (this may in distinction to commander of the twilight), while David most probably means battle renewer. Sinclair was fond of Tennyson's poetry - in particular, Ulysses.
- Delenn (star of twilight or star-king) became Entil'zha and leader of the Rangers. Delenn's history has some remarkable correspondences with that of the Elven princess, Luthien (whose name daughter of twilight might also be translated star of dusk).
- Entil'zha (Jeffrey Sinclair) wore a green stone brooch (isil'zha) in his role as Ranger One (a title which is given as a loose translation of Anla'shok Na - my translation: first of the [spiritual] strike force of the Light).
- Valen was wearing this same green stone brooch (isil'zha) when he announced his identity to the two Warrior Caste Minbari who boarded Babylon 4.
- There were two kinds of isil'zha. One had the green stone in a gold and silver setting surmounted by a figure of a human on one side and a Minbari on the other and which allegedly shed tears of blood when the Ranger died. The original isil'zha, however, was - according to To Dream in the City of Sorrows - in a simple setting of gold and silver fashioned to resemble the hands of a Ranger holding it.
- According to Marcus Cole, isil'zha means "future, births, beginnings, dawn of a new age." `Zha' is in fact Minbari for sunrise - or dawn - but `isil' does not literally mean of a new age, though that connotation is clearly present. Less loosely, isil'zha (ignoring the apostrophe) means rising of the sun and moon as well as silver 'n gold. In addition, it almost certainly (given the apparently ubiquitous relationship between `silver' and `telepathy' in B5) means dawn of the age of telepathy/telergy.
- Entil'zha had a champion and admirer in the Minbari - Rathenn (wanderer of the stars or star of the journey). He was first seen calling out "Entil'zha" at the beginning of the episode, War Without End. He had been previously mentioned as a mutual friend of both Draal and Delenn.
- Valen had a companion, an alien of unknown race who called himself Zathras (eagle of the shore). Zathras, by the way, had a companion of his own race in War Without End. According to the B5 Trivia Cards (the author of whom was actually allowed access to scripts), the name of this companion was Spraag (falling horse of....?...)
- Valen was accompanied by Zathras in B4 to the war a thousand years in the past.
- Valen took with him into the past one of a set of three triluminaries (crystals of enclosed light) which he used to change himself to Minbari. This triluminary was apparently given to him by Zathras and it came from Epsilon 3.
- Sinclair sailed B4 through 'impenetrable barrier' of Time and could not then return through that Barrier. In To Dream in the City of Sorrows, he is suspicious that the Vorlons may have been involved in the creation of the time rift since it is apparently a unique phenomenon. At the end of the book, the possibility that Sinclair is re-united in the distant past with Catherine Sakai (who has been lost in the rift) is strongly implied.
- Valen apparently gained support of the Vorlons (angelic guardians), since they were visible above him when he announced his identity to the two Minbari who were the first to board B4. To Dream in the City of Sorrows suggests that this was the first Minbari contact with the Vorlons.
- Valen arrived unexpectedly in the nick of time (puts a whole new meaning on the cliche, doesn't it?) with B4 - a starbase which the Minbari desperately needed to avert imminent defeat by the Shadow forces.
- Valen eventually became a figure of religious reverence and awe for the Minbari, since he had brought hope at a time of such desperate need. Although a cult grew up around him, he was not mistaken for a god.
- ***Valen was an ancestor of Delenn (star of twilight or star-king)
- According to To Dream in the City of Sorrows, the meaning of the name 'Entil'zha' was actually unknown to the Minbari, but was believed to have been of Vorlon derivation.. (Nevertheless, for these twenty and other reasons, I am sticking to my assertion that it means, fundamentally, Morning Star).
- Valen is claimed to have 'travelled beyond' (This may refer to The Rim, and `rim' is the Minbari element for walls). His death is shrouded in mystery. Some of the Minbari who examined him (and other humans) at the Battle of The Line became convinced that Minbari souls were passing to humans and that rather than being reborn in the next generation, they were leaving the Minbari race entirely.
- Sinclair once compared Babylon 4 to the doomed phantom ship, 'The Flying Dutchman', cursed in a variety of legends to sail forever near the Cape of Good Hope. One possible Minbari translation of `Babylon' is powerful haven. While on Babylon 4, Sinclair, Garibaldi, Sheridan, Delenn and others had powerful (and fairly accurate) visions of the past and future. Those whose time-frame was stabilised appeared to have the vision without moving physically from B4, but without time stabilisation, it seemed that actual physical transportation to the time period may have occurred. When Sinclair and Garibaldi first arrive on B4, they see a man in the grip of a vision of monsters, which they themselves cannot see. Later, Sinclair's vision (which Garibaldi years afterwards mysteriously claims to have shared) involved the apparent destruction of Babylon 5 and a certain security officer's heroic last stand: a narrowly averted future might-have-been. Garibaldi has a vision of the past with himself reliving an unpleasant goodbye to his lover, Lise Hampton. Delenn's vision/experience of herself playing with a snow-globe seems uncannilyaccurate in retrospect, while Sheridan's experience seventeen years in the future has yet to be verified for precision.
- Earendil translates from Old English as light, the first dawn and is derived from Earendel, Old English for Morning Star, and is partly inspired by the legend of Orentil, the mariner whose toe became the morning star. Earendil translates from Quenya (Elvish) as sea lover and from the earliest forms ofElvish as friend of eagles.
- Earendil is part human, part elf, part Maia (the latter is a lesser being in the hierarchy of the angelic guardians - many of them served the Valar)
- Earendil (and Orentil, for that matter) was a mariner, like Ulysses. He sailed the Shadowy Seas searching for the way to the West. In some reference sources, Earendil is specifically compared to Odysseus - which is, of course, just another name for Ulysses.
- Morning Star is also the Evening Star.
- In Bilbo's poem about him in The Lord of The Rings, Earendil wore a green stone brooch (this reference was included at Aragorn's insistence, in prophetic fore-shadowing of his coronation name, Elessar). Earendil possessed this Elfstone as a gift from his mother, Idril, and it was given to her by Enerdhil, the jewelsmith (or in an alternative version, by Celebrimbor).
- Earendil wore the green Elessar on his voyages through the Shadowy Seas and it was lost to Middle Earth when he became the Morning Star.
- There was a second Elfstone, which according to Unfinished Tales was also created by Celebrimbor, but this time for Galadriel. When she later received the more powerful jewel, Nenya (the Ring of Water), she handed the elessar to her daughter, Arwen, who gave it to her betrothed, Aragorn, thus enabling the prophecy concerning the Elfstone to be fulfilled. This elessar was mounted in a brooch of silver in the likeness of an eagle rising on outspread wings.
- The creation of the first elessar by Enerdhil was prompted by his love of Green: the elf wanted to create a jewel in which the clear light of the sun would be bound, but which was as green as leaves. The elessar was claimed to have healing properties and the hands of one who held it could bring surcease from all pain and hurt. In the history of Middle Earth, green is the colour intrinsically associated with light, since trees (the Two Trees, in particular - one silver, one gold) were the origin of light in that universe. After the trees were poisoned, they bloomed just once more before they died - the flower of the silver tree became the Moon and that of the golden tree became the Sun. With the rising of the sun and moon, a new age began in Middle Earth.
- Earendil had a companion, Aerandir (wanderer of the sea) and a companion Erollent (star of the way).
- Earendil had another companion, Falathar (eagle of the coast), though the Great Eagles themselves were his companions from time to time. Thorondor (lord of eagles or eagle of the realm) was the king of the eagles who flew with Earendil to the War of Wrath. In later times - the days of the War of The Ring, there was an eagle called Landroval (swooping steed of power).
- Earendil was accompanied by the eagles to the War of Wrath in his flying ship, Vingilot.
- Earendil possessed one of a set of three Silmarils (jewels of enclosed light) which as the Morning Star, he wore upon his brow. The Silmaril was brought to him by his wife, Elwing, who had been turned into a bird by the Valar in order to safeguard her while she sped to join her husband across the Shadowy Seas.
- Earendil, after many trials, sailed his ship, Vingilot (foamflower), through the 'impenetrable barrier' of the Shadowy Seas which all others had failed to pass. Earendil and Elwing could not return through the impenetrable barrier of the Shadowy Seas. The Shadowy Seas had been created by the Valar.
- Earendil succeeded in his mission to win the aid of the Valar (angelic guardians) in the Great War against Morgoth. Prior to this, the Valar (with the exception of Ulmo who saw his role as that of a loyal opposition) had reluctantly refrained from intervening, since they felt constrained by the judgment of the Doom of Mandos.
- Earendil arrived unexpectedly in his flying ship in the nick of time to help avert the defeat of the Elves by the forces of Darkness.
- Earendil became a figure of religious reverence and awe for elves since his appearance as the Morning Star became for them a symbol of hope in one of their darkest hours. He was, however, not a god figure.
- Earendil was a descendent of Luthien (star of dusk) - and Beren too, for that matter - but he was also an ancestor to Elrond (Minbari translation: star-king). He was Elrond's father.
- Earendil was given the position (and thus ultimately the name) of the Morning Star by the Valar. His ship, Vingilot, was given the power of flight. In The Book of Lost Tales, it is revealed that Earendel (original spelling of Earendil) was believed to have come from a secret tongue, that its meaning was uncertain and that there were many interpretations of it amongst Elves and Men including sea lover, friend of eagles and so on.
- Earendil, in his role as the Morning Star, daily travelled beyond the Walls of Night. Earendil did not die. He was, of course, part human, part elf and part Maia. The elves and Maia were immortal in the sense that they did not die of natural causes, though their lives could be ended through deep grief or grievous wounds. Should this happen, they would go for a time to the Halls of Mandos, there to sit in the dim quiet and contemplate their former lives before being born into another generation. Sometimes the elves believed they could recognise a returning soul - as in the case of Glorfindel of Rivendell, named after the heroic Glorfindel of Gondolin who fell to his death when he destroyed a monstrous fiery Balrog.
- Earendil had a ship named 'Vingilot' - foamflower. Before going on, it should be mentioned that `doom' was not necessarily a bad thing in a Middle Earth context. Although it could be an omen of disaster (such as the Doom of Mandos, which was nevertheless more of a prophetic judgment than the predeterminism of a fatalistic karma), a doom could also be more like a destiny or a geas (wherein freewill still operated) than a ruinous fate. Now there was a tranquil haven and place of power called Cerin Amroth (Minbari translation: wandering ship of the doomed [foam] flower) in the heart of the elven land of Lothlorien. At Cerin Amroth, time seemed to be, on the one hand at a standstill and on the other, almost fluid. When the companions of the Fellowship of The Ring reached Cerin Amroth, they were assailed by visions of the past and future. These visions were powerful, poignant and apparently accurate depictions of other times. Aragorn - seemingly unaware that others were watching and hearing him, but were unable to see what he saw - had a vision in which he said goodbye to his beloved, Arwen. Frodo saw an ancient sea-shore while Sam felt that he was inside a song.
Possible Babylonian Connection
The Babylonian goddess, Ishtar, was the personification of the Morning Star. Her name, like that of Entil'zha, contains partial Minbari elements for moon and sun (but also for death and spirit), though its most appropriate translation would probably be moon queen. In her guise of the Morning Star, she was the patron of war, but as the Evening Star she personified the goddess of love. This division is reflective of the two Entil'zhas - Sinclair, the warrior who restored hope, and Delenn, the primary romantic love interest of the entire series.