J.R.R. Tolkien > The Silmarillion

The Valaquenta, or the Account of the Valar in Quenya, is the second book within of The Silmarillion. It comes after the Ainulindalë link2, The Music of the Ainur and preceeds the Quenta Silmarillion proper. It's subtitle is the Account of the Valar and Maiar according to the lore of the Eldar, and is blessedly short. It is descriptive rather than narrative. The text consists of a laundry list of Tolkein's greatest spirits, or Valar. A close reading of the text discerns the following information:

The ARATAR (the Powers of Arda)       
Ulmo    Varda                            
Aulë    Yavanna                          
Mandos  Nienna                           
Oromë   Melkor                         
The Aratar were generally referred to by the Edain and other men as "gods".

Manwë       Lord of Air, Lord of the Breath of Arda
Ulmo        Lord of Waters
Aulë        Lord of Earth, Master of Crafts ∓ Smithing, Creator of the Khazad
Oromë       Lord of Forests
Tulkas      Astaldo (the Valiant)
Melkor      Lord of Fire and Darkness, The Great Enemy, the Dark Lord, Morgoth
The Fëanturi (Masters of Spirit) 
Namo        aka Mandos, Lord of the Dead, Doomsman of the Valar
Irmo        aka Lorien, Lord of Visions & Dreams

Varda       Lady of the Stars, Elbereth, beloved of the Elves
Yavanna     Lady of the Earth, Giver of Fruits
Nienna      Lady of Grief, Sorrow, & Lamentation (sister to the Fëanturi)
Estë        Lady of Healing
Vairë       the Weaver (of Time)
Vana        the Ever-Young
Nessa       Lady of the Dance & Running, sister to Oromë

Various MAIA
Ilmarë      Handmaiden of Varda
Eonwë       Herald of Manwë
Ossë        Lord of Storms & Coasts
Uinen       Lady of the Seas
Sauron      Gorthaur, Lord of Werewolves, Shadows, & Phantoms
Melain      Beloved of Thingol Greycloak
Olorin      an Istari, later called Mithrandir

Manwë   =  Varda
Aulë    =  Yavanna
Oromë   =  Vana
Mandos  =  Vairë
Lorien  =  Estë
Tulkas  =  Nessa

I consider the Valaquenta to be a useful transition, a helpful waypoint before the storytelling about the Silmarils begins. It assigns portfolios to Tolkein's various gods, and helps to humanize the otherwise inexplicable behavior they show once Time begins.

The Silmarillion, JRR Tolkein, 1977, George Allen & Allen (no, I'm not selling my first edition)

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