The Fall of Two Cities: Troy and Gondolin




Tolkien, Reception of Vergil, Aeneid, Troy, Gondolin


Vergil was a fundamental source of inspiration for Tolkien, not only when writing the Lord of the Rings, but also at the beginning of his “world-building”. The Fall of Gondolin, written in 1916, was modeled upon the Aeneid, whose second book shares many similarities with the description of Gondolin’s last day. For instance, the attack that seals the fate of the city takes place during a feast in both works, whereas both protagonists (Aeneas and Tuor) leave wives and sons to fight the enemy and witness deaths of their kings (Priam/Turgon). Other analogies include the topos of the fall of the tallest tower of the city as well as the scenes of Creusa/Idril clasping the knees of her husband and begging him not to go back to the battle. Tolkien chose the Aeneid as his main model because, in his opinion, the Aeneid and The Fall of Gondolin evoked the air of antiquity and melancholy. Vergil’s nostalgia for a “lost world” conveyed in the Aeneid greatly resembles the nostalgia pervading both Tolkien’s writing and life.