Finrod comes upon Bëor's folk - first meeting of the Eldar and Men
Event Type: Cultural/Social
Age: 1st Age
"...[Finrod] came into the north of Ossiriand.
"In a valley among the foothills of the mountains, below the springs of Thalos, he saw lights in the evening, and far off he heard the sound of song. At this he wondered much, for the Green-elves of that land lit no fires, nor did they sing by night. At first he feared that a raid of Orcs had passed the leaguer of the North, but as he drew near he perceived that it was not so; for the singers used a tongue that he had not heard before, neither that of Dwarves nor of Orcs. Then Felagund, standing silent in the night-shadow of the trees, looked down into the camp, and there he beheld a strange people.
"Now these were a part of the kindred and following of Bëor the Old, as he was afterwards called, a chieftain among Men. After many lives of wandering out of the East he had led them at last over the Blue Mountains, the first of the race of Men to enter Beleriand; and they sang because they were glad, and believed that they had escaped from all perils and had come at last to a land without fear.
"Long Felagund watched them, and love for them stirred in his heart; but he remained hidden in the trees until they had all fallen asleep. Then he went among the sleeping people, and sat beside their dying fire where none kept watch; and he took up a rude harp which Bëor had laid aside, and he played music upon it such as the ears of Men had not heard; for they had as yet no teachers in the art, save only the Dark Elves in the wild lands.
"Now men awoke and listened to Felagund as he harped and sang, and each thought that he was in some fair dream, until he saw that his fellows were awake also beside him; but they did not speak or stir while Felagund still played, because of the beauty of the music and the wonder of the song. Wisdom was in the words of the Elven-king, and the hearts grew wiser that hearkened to him; for the things of which he sang, of the making of Arda, and the bliss of Aman beyond the shadows of the Sea, came as clear visions before their eyes, and his Elvish speech was interpreted in each mind according to its measure.
"Thus it was that Men called King Felagund, whom they first met of all the Eldar, Nóm, that is Wisdom, in the language of that people, and after him they named his folk Nómin, the Wise. Indeed they believed at first that Felagund was one of the Valar, of whom they had heard rumour that they dwelt far in the West; and this was (some say) the cause of their journeying. But Felagund dwelt among them and taught them true knowledge, and they loved him, and took him for their lord, and were ever after loyal to the house of Finarfin."
The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 17, Of the Coming of Men into the West
Choice of Date
The date, as so many in Tolkien's First Age, changed many times - from First Age 100 in Shaping of Middle-earth to First Age 400 in The War of the Jewels, The Grey Annals.
The Silmarillion says:
"When three hundred years and more were gone since the Noldor came to Beleriand, in the days of the Long Peace, Finrod Felagund lord of Nargothrond journeyed east of Sirion…"
There is good evidence that 310 was what Tolkien settled on in his later writing. A late version, very close to what Christopher Tolkien used in The Silmarillion:
"Now it came to pass, when three hundred years and ten were gone since the Noldor came to Beleriand, in the days of the Long Peace, that Felagund journeyed east of Sirion and went hunting with Maglor and Maedros, sons of Feanor."
The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 2, Ch 14, Of the Coming of Men into the West
" 'three hundred years and ten': the words 'and ten' were an addition. The original chapter in QS had 'four hundred', against which my father noted (p. 202, §126): 'This must be removed to 300', altering the date to '310'. This radical shift, putting back by ninety years the date of Felagund's meeting with Beor (and so extending the lines of the rulers of the Edain in Beleriand by several generations), has been encountered in the opening of the Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth (X.307 and third footnote)."
The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 2, Ch 14, Of the Coming of Men into the West, Commentary §1
The date is also mentioned in Morgoth's Ring:
"According to the older chronology (see V.130, 274; still preserved in the Grey Annals of c.1951) Finrod Felagund had encountered Beor in the foothills of the Blue Mountains in the year 400, but the date of that meeting had now been set back by ninety years, to 310 (third footnote to the text)."
Morgoth's Ring, HoME Vol 10, Part 4, Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth
Lyllyn 24Jan03, added links and explanation of date 24Jan05