Beren & LúthienBeren & Lúthien - The relationship of Beren and Lúthien is one of the most significant in the history of Middle Earth and far too complicated to cover comprehensively here.  To learn the full story of the two, it's recommended you read chapter 19 of the The Silmarillion which is devoted entirely to them.  What follows here is a short summary of their relationship.


Beren was of the race of Men and Lúthien of the race of Elves (she was actually half-Maia as her mother, Melian, was a Maiar).  She was the daughter of King Thingol of the realm of Doriath which Beren wandered into after the death of his father, Barahir.


"It is told in the Lay of Leithian that Beren came stumbling into Doriath grey and bowed as with many years of woe, so great had been the torment on the road.  But wandering in the summer of the woods of Neldoreth he came upon Lúthien, daughter of Thingol and Melian, at a time of evening under moonrise, as she danced upon the unfading grass in the glades beside Esgalduin.  Then all memory of his pain departed from him, and he fell into an enchantment; for Lúthien was the most beautiful of all the Children of Ilúvatar." ~The Silmarillion, chap. 19 (Of Beren and Lúthien)


Beren & LúthienThey fell in love and wanted to marry, but Thingol refused.  However, after looking upon Lúthien he did not want to incur the enmity of his daughter.  So instead he laid before Beren an impossible retreive one of the Silmarils in the possession of Morgoth.  Beren accepted the quest and turned to his Noldor friend, Finrod Felagund.  But Finrod was torn because the house of his uncle, Fëanor, was sworn to recover the Silmarils and would not suffer them falling into the hands of anyone else.  In the end, he chose to honor his vow to Beren's father, Barahir (see Death of Finrod above) and abdicated his throne in Nargothrond.  They journeyed north but were captured by Sauron and taken to Tol Sirion, where Finrod was slain and Beren nearly lost his lfe as well, before being saved by Lúthien and Huan, the Hound of Valinor.


Having the wolfhound Huan proved the difference between life and death for Beren and Lúthien.  Sauron, who had captured Beren tried to prevent their escape by releasing werewolves on them; but so great was the power of Huan that he slew them all, one by one.  Finally, Sauron sent the werewolf lord, Draugluin into the fray.


"Then Sauron sent Draugluin, a dread beast, old in evil, lord and sire of the werewolves of Angband.  His might was great; and the battle of Huan and Draugluin was long and fierce.  Yet at length, Draugluin escaped, and fleeing back into the tower he died before Sauron's feet; and as he died he told his master: 'Huan is there!'" ~The Silmarillion, chap. 19 (Of Beren and Lúthien)


This was a dire statement from Draugluin because it had been prophesized that Huan could defeat all but the greatest of wolves.


Beren & Lúthien"Now Sauron knew well the fate that was decreed for the hound of Valinor, and it came into his thought that he himself would accomplish it.  Therefore he took upon himself the form of a werewolf, and made himself the mightiest that had yet walked the world...So great was the horror of his approach that Huan leaped aside.  Then Sauron sprang upon Lúthien; and she swooned before the menace of the fell spirit in his eyes and the foul vapour of his breath.  But even as he came, falling she cast a fold of her cloak before his eyes; and he stumbled, for a fleeting drowsiness came upon him.  Then Huan sprang.  There befell the battle of Huan and Wolf-Sauron...But no wizardry nor spell, neither fang nor venom, nor devil's art nor beast strength, could overthrow Huan of Valinor; and he took his foe by the throat and pinned him down.  Then Sauron shifted shape, from wolf to serpent, and from monster to his own accustomed form; but he could not elude the grip of Huan without forsaking his body utterly...Then Sauron yielded himself, and Lúthien took the mastery of the isle and all that was there; and Huan released him.  And immediately he took the form of a vampire, great as a dark cloud across the moon, and he fled..." ~The Silmarillion, chap. 19 (Of Beren and Lúthien)


After their escape, Beren and Lúthien tied their fortune to one another and traveled to Angband together, along with Huan as their campanion.  But behind the walls, Morgoth knew well of the strength of the hound of Valinor.


"Then Morgoth recalled the doom of Huan, and he chose one from among the whelps of the race of Draugluin; and he fed him with his own hand upon living flesh, and put his own power upon him.  Swiftly the wolf grew, until he could creep into no den, but lay huge and hungry before the feet of Morgoth.  There the fire and anquish of hell entered into him, and he became filled with a devouring spirit, tormented, terrible, and strong.  Carcharoth, the Red Maw he is named in the tales of those days, and Anfauglir, the Jaws of Thirst.  And Morgoth set him to lie unsleeping before the doors of Angband, lest Huan come." ~The Silmarillion, chap. 19 (Of Beren and Lúthien)


But Lúthien was possessed of a power that none, not even Morgoth (as we shall see), could withstand.  She used it to hinder Sauron, and now she was about to use it again.


"...she stood small before the might of Carcharoth, but radiant and terrible.  Lifting up her hand, she commanded him to sleep, saying: 'O woe-begotten spirit, fall now into dark oblivion, and forget for a while the dreadful doom of life.'  And Carcharoth was felled, as though lightning had smitten him.  Then Beren and Lúthien went through the Gate, and down the labyrinthine stairs, and together wrought the greatest deed that has been dared by Elves and Men.  For they came to the seat of Morgoth in his nethermost hall..." ~The Silmarillion, chap. 19 (Of Beren and Lúthien)


Beren & LúthienThus began a battle of wills between the enchanting beauty of Lúthien and the rending evil of Morgoth.


"Then suddenly she eluded his sight, and out of the shadows began a song of such surpassing lovliness, and of such blinding power, that he listened perforce; and a blindness came upon him..." ~The Silmarillion, chap. 19 (Of Beren and Lúthien)


And in that moment, Beren stepped forward and gathered the prize.


"Then he drew forth the knife Angrist, and from the iron claws that held it he cut a Silmaril." ~The Silmarillion, chap. 19 (Of Beren and Lúthien)


But even Beren could not overcome the tug of greed that pulls at Men.


"It came then into Beren's mind that he would go beyond his vow, and bear out of Angband all three of the Jewels of Fëanor; but such was not the doom of the Silmarils.  The knife Angrist snapped, and a shard of the blade flying smote the cheek of Morgoth." ~The Silmarillion, chap. 19 (Of Beren and Lúthien)


Morgoth was roused from his slumber and Beren and Lúthien fled with all dispatch.  But by now Carcharoth was also awake, and blocked their path.


Beren & Lúthien"Lúthien was spent, and she had not time nor strength to quell the wolf.  But Beren strode forth before her, and in his right hand he held aloft the Silmaril.  Carcharoth halted, and for a moment was afraid.  'Get you gone and fly!' cried Beren; 'for there is a fire that shall consume you, and all evil things.'  And he thrust the Silmaril before the eyes of the wolf.  But Carcharoth looked upon the holy jewel and was not daunted, and the devouring spirit within him awoke to sudden fire; and gaping he took suddenly the hand within his jaws, and he bit it off at the wrist.  Then swiftly all his inwards were filled with a flame of anguish, and the Silmaril seared his accursed flesh.  Howling he fled before them, and the walls of the valley of the Gate echoed with the clamour of his torment." ~The Silmarillion, chap. 19 (Of Beren and Lúthien)


When they returned to Thingol, and Beren revealed his missing hand, the Sindarin king was moved by emotion at the bravery of the Man, and his attitude was changed.  From that point, Beren and Lúthien were together with Thingol's blessing.  Of course their relationship doomed Lúthien to a mortal life.  But to them was born Dior, the first Half-Elf of Middle Earth.  And from his daughter, Elwing, would come the Númenoreans (see Elros).