Q. Airë María Eruo ontaril “Holy Mary, Mother of God”

Q. Airë María Eruo ontaril “Holy Mary, Mother of God”

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The fifth line of Aia María, Tolkien’s translation of the Ave Maria prayer. The first word airë¹ “holy” is either an adjective or a form of address applied to the second word, María: the Quenyarized form of “Mary”. The third word Eruo “of God” is the genitive form of Eru “God”. The last word ontaril “mother” seems to be a feminine form of ᴹQ. ontaro “begetter, parent” (as suggested by the Wynne, Smith and Hostetter, VT43/32). If so, Eruo ontaril more literally means “*genetrix (female begetter) of God”.

Decomposition: Broken into its constituent elements, this phrase would be:

Airë María Eru-o ontaril = “*holy Mary God-of genetrix”

Conceptual Development: In the second version of the prayer, Tolkien used {Aini >>} aina (II) for “holy” instead of aire (I, III-IV). In the first two versions of the prayer Tolkien used Eruamillë (I-II) for “Mother of God”, a compound of Eru “God” and amil(lë) “mother”.

  I    II  III IV
Aire {Aini >>} Aina Aire
Eruamille Eruo

References ✧ VT43/26-28



airë¹ “holy; sanctity, holiness” ✧ VT43/32
María “*Mary” ✧ VT43/28
Eru “The One, God” genitive ✧ VT43/32 (Eruo)
ontari(l) “*mother, (lit.) genetrix” ✧ VT43/32 (ontaril)
aina “holy, revered, numinous” ✧ VT43/32
Eruamillë “*Mother of God” ✧ VT43/32

Element In