I have not posted about The Silmarillion of late, so it is about time to do so. They are quite easy to write I suppose, its just that they take a while and I am not sure of how familiar my readers are with the text, if at all. I wouldn't want to be giving the plot away! That may or may not be too late by now though...
Anyway, the stage we are at now is this: the Vala Oromë had dwelt for a short while at Cuiviénen, the Waters of Awakening, with the ancient kindreds of the Elves, but must needs return into the West to bring the news to the other Valar. He does so. On hearing the news, the Valar rejoice, but are unquiet amid their joy because of the menace of Melkor who is still dwelling in the North of Middle-earth. And so the Valar and the Maiar hold a great council together, and thither came even Ulmo from the Outer Seas. At this point, Oromë returns to Middle-earth to guard the Elves. The Elder King Manwë then seeks the counsel of God upon the mountain of Taniquetil, and coming back down to Valinor, he summons the Valar to the Ring of Doom where he says: ''This is the counsel of Ilúvatar in my heart; that we should take up again the mastery of Arda, at whatsoever cost, and deliver the Quendi from the shadow of Melkor.''
And so, the Valar prepare to make war once again upon the Diobolus Melkor, albeit with reluctance - and even without real hope of victory (''at whatsoever cost''). You must remember that in the most primeval wars for the mastery of Arda, Melkor could single-handedly drive all the Valar into retreat. Therefore, the war upon Melkor undertaken by the Valar was rather in the hope of distracting his attention away from Cuiviénen, where the vulnerable Children of Ilúvatar yet dwelt. And so, they came from the West in force of war and met the onset of Melkor in the North-west of Middle-earth. The Valar find that they can deal with Melkor's agents piecemeal, and their first victory was swift, and so the servants of Melkor fled before their wrath to Utumno. The Valar then pass over Middle-earth and set a guard about Cuiviénen. Thereafter, the Elves knew nothing of the great Battle of the Powers, except that the earth groaned and shook beneath them, the waters of the sea were moved, and far away to the North there were lights as of many fires. Tolkien writes that:
''Long and grievous was the siege of Utumno, and many battles were fought before its gates of which naught but the rumour is known to the Elves. In that time the shape of Middle-earth was changed, and the Great Sea that sundered it from Aman grew wide and deep; and it broke in upon the coasts and made a deep gulf to the southward. Many lesser bays were made between the Great Gulf and Helcaraxë far to the north, where Middle-earth and Aman came nigh together. Of these the Bay of Balar was the chief; and into it the mighty river Sirion flowed down from the new-raised highlands northwards: Dorthonion, and the mountains about Hithlum. The lands of the far north were all made desolate in those days; for there Utumno was delved exceeding deep, and its pits were filled with fires and with great hosts of the servants of Melkor.'' (The Silmarillion, Chapter III, Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor, p. 48).
The scale of this war must have been huge; even if it was localised to the North of Middle-earth. You know, I often find the location of the primeval dwelling place of the Dark Lord, in the North, a source of significance, and sometimes amusement. At Mass, of course, the Deacon chants the Gospel in the direction of the north (even if not strictly the geographically correct compass direction) because, as the Scriptures say: ''And the Lord said to me: From the north shall an evil break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.'' (Jeremias 1:14). I wonder if Tolkien had this in mind when he wrote all this? I should know this of course; that is what my parish MC would say anyway! However, the only referrence to the North in relation to the Diobolus that I know in Tolkien is in a (very funny) letter he wrote to his publisher Allen & Unwin on 23rd February 1961, in which he said: ''The placing of Mordor in the east was due to simple narrative and geographical necessity, within my 'mythology.' The original stronghold of Evil was (as traditionally) in the North...'' (The Letters of J.R.R Tolkien, no. 229). Perhaps someone more learned than I can illumine me. At least I should stop thinking about dark lords etc when we line up in the Sanctuary to go and convert the heathen barbarians in the North with the Word of God!
Anyway, back to the subject! After the long and arduous battles, sieges etc before the gates of Hell, the Valar at last break them down and unroof the many pits of Utumno, and Melkor flees into the deepest dungeons to take refuge. This is a rather cogent point; Melkor, who once drove the Valar into retreat, is in his turn driven into retreat. The Valar perceive (and Melkor himself perceives this, from a personal perspective) that Melkor does not himself have sufficient personal force to shield himself from direct assault. The reasons for this are complex and beyond the scope of this post - I shall perhaps do another post dedicated to the concept of ''the Morgoth'' - Tolkien treats this subject in The History of Middle-earth. And so, the account given in The Silmarillion is that Tulkas ''stood forth as champion of the Valar and wrestled with him, and cast him upon his face; and he was bound with the chain Angainor that Aulë had wrought, and was led captive; and the world had peace for a long age.'' And Melkor was brought before Manwë in the Ring of Doom, and he sued for pardon, but his prayer was denied and he was locked away in the fastness of Mandos, where he was doomed to abide for three ages long. Ominously, Sauron was not found by the Valar, nor a great many of the Balrogs, and they waited in the dark pits of Angband that the Valar had not found, awaiting the return of their lord...
I can't find any ''Tolkien art'' that accurately illustrates the Battle of the Valar, so I'll leave that to your imagination.