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Select Elvish Words 4.88-4.89: Medicine, Poison

4.88 Medicine, Drug

Q. asëa n. “healing herb, ⚠️athelas”
An element in the Quenya name for “kingsfoil”: asëa aranion (LotR/864), which was itself sometimes translated as “asea of the Kings” (PE17/49, 100). In Definitive Linguistic Notes (DLN) from 1959 Tolkien derived asea from √ATHA “as name of plant athelas” (PE17/148), and in notes on Words, Phrases and Passages from The Lord of the Rings around the same period it was derived from √ATH “ease, comfort, heal” (PE17/49). In notes from 1969 Tolkien describe it thus:

Q asea (< aþāya) name (as = “beneficial”?) of a herb — not now known or at least identifiable, useful in healing both (as an infusion of its leaves) in easing the pain and hastening the healing of heavy blows or shocks, and as an invigorating odour in reviving the sick from depression, or even unconsciousness, after wounds or shock (PE22/165).

In these notes Tolkien first derived healing words from √AÞA, but he then introduced a new root √HATHA “treat kindly/make easy, (help to) cure” (PE22/166 note #109). In rough notes following this he gave {asea >>} aþea with the hard-to-read gloss “treating[?]. medically [?use], caring[?]” (PE22/166 note #110). This line of reasoning was left unfinished.

Neo-Quenya: Some of the above implies that asea was itself another name of the plant S. athelas, but for purposes of Neo-Quenya I think it is more useful to assume asea can refer to any kind of healing herb, and that “kingsfoil” is more specifically asëa aranion.

Q. asëa aranion n. “kingsfoil, asëa of the Kings”
The Quenya name of S. athelas “kingsfoil” (LotR/864), a combination of asëa and aranion, the genitive plural of aran “king”, hence = “asëa of the kings” (PE17/49, 100). The exact meaning of asea itself isn’t entirely clear. Tolkien sometimes implied asea was another name of athelas (PE17/148; PE22/166), but the translation “asëa of the kings” seems to imply it was a more general term (?healing herb) and that “kingfoil” was more specifically asëa aranion. For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I prefer to use asea for healing herbs of any kind, and use asëa aranion for the species “kingsfoil”.

Conceptual Development: In Lord of the Rings drafts of the 1940s, Tolkien had ᴹQ. asea aranaite, using a distinct adjective ᴹQ. aranaite “*kingly, royal” instead of later aranion.

Q. hröangolmë n. “lore of the body and arts of healing”
A term for “the lore of the body and arts of healing” appearing in notes from 1965, first written hröanissë (NM/322). It is a combination of hroa “body” and nolmë “lore”.
S. athelas v. “kingsfoil, a healing herb”
The Sindarin name of the “kingsfoil” (LotR/864), a combination athae and lass, hence literally “*healing leaf”.

Conceptual Development: ᴱN. athelas appeared in the margins of The Lay of Leithian from the 1920s next to the phrase “of all the herbs of healing chief” (LB/269), and already had the form N. athelas when it first appeared in Lord of the Rings drafts of the 1940s (RS/190).

4.89 Poison

Q. hloima n. “poison, poisonous substance”
A word appearing in Quenya Notes (QN) from 1957 glossed “(a) poison(ous substance)” and derived from √SLOY (PE17/185).

Conceptual Development: The Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s had ᴱQ. heno (henu-) “venom, poison” under the early root ᴱ√HEN+U (QL/40), with a variant feno (QL/38). The contemporaneous Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa had only the stem form henŭ- “venom” (PME/40). In The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien had a completely different word ᴹQ. sangwa “poison” derived from primitive ᴹ✶sagmā under the root ᴹ√SAG (Ety/SAG).

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I would stick to the 1957 word hloima, used for a specific poison or poisonous substance, as opposed to hloirë for poison in the abstract or poisonousness.

Q. hloirë n. “venom, poison, poisonousness”
A noun in Quenya Notes (QN) from 1957 glossed “venom, poison(ousness)” derived from the root √SLOY (PE17/185). I think this applies to poison in the abstract, as opposed to hloima used for a specific venomous substance.
Q. hloirëa adj. “venomous, *poisonous”
A word appearing in Quenya Notes (QN) from 1957 glossed “venomous”, an adjectival form of Q. hloirë “venom” (PE17/185).

Conceptual Development: The Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s had ᴱQ. henuva “venomous, poisonous”, an adjectival form of ᴱQ. heno (henu-) “venom, poison” (QL/38).

Q. hloita- v. “to poison, envenom, fill with poison”
A verb in Quenya Notes (QN) from 1957 glossed “to poison, envenom, fill with poison” derived from the root √SLOY (PE17/185).
G. fenog adj. “venomous”
A word appearing as G. fenog or {fembrin >>} fenwed “venomous” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, an adjectival form of G. fem “venom (of snakes), poison in general” (GL/34).

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I would update this word to ᴺS. lhoereb “venomous, poisonous” based on the later word lhoer “venom, poison(ousness)”.

S. lhoer n. “venom, poison(ousness)”
A word appearing in Quenya Notes (QN) from 1957 derived from √SLOY, the equivalent of Q. hloirë “venom, poison(ousness)” (PE17/185).

Conceptual Development: In the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s Tolkien had G. fem “venom (of snakes), poison in general” (GL/34), likely the equivalent of ᴱQ. heno “venom, poison” based on the early root ᴱ√HEN+U (QL/40).

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I would stick to the 1957 word lhoer used for poison in general or in the abstract, as opposed to a specific poison or poisonous substance which would be lhoew.

S. lhoew n. “poison(ous substance)”
A word appearing in Quenya Notes (QN) from 1957 derived from √SLOY, the equivalent of Q. hloima “(a) poison(ous substance)” (PE17/185).

Conceptual Development: In The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien had N. saew “poison” derived from primitive ᴹ✶sagmā under the root ᴹ√SAG (Ety/SAG). The word saęw “poison” also appeared in The Feanorian Alphabet from the 1930s with the same gloss and basic derivation (PE22/32).

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I would stick to the 1957 word lhoew, used for a specific poison or poisonous substance, as opposed to lhoer for poisonousness or poison in the abstract.

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