"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes-and ships-and sealing-wax-
Of cabbages-and kings-
And why the sea is boiling hot-
And whether pigs have wings."
-Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There
There was not a man, woman or child among us who was not more than a little in love with Maedhros. He was beautiful and brilliant, the most outstanding specimen of an incomparable family. After Thangorodrim, he carried an added element of enthralling darkness, the appeal of tragic heroism. He came back to us wounded, but he had survived. He returned maimed, but not damaged in the thousand subtle and nameless ways of most escaped captives that caused people to shrink back from them. Oh, he did suffer, but his suffering had tempered him. It gave him insight into the tasks to which we had pledged ourselves—to avenge our murdered king and mete out the vengeance due the black Vala from which his brethren had apparently turned away.
True, he never projected the flamboyant daring of Fingon, the otherworldly transcendence of Finrod, or the charisma of our much beloved Maglor, but there was something about his quiet confidence and transparent selflessness that made one willing to follow him. Many forgave him the sins of his father and brothers because he stood aside and refused to participate in the burning of the ships at Losgar. He was the only one among Finwë's grandchildren who had the judgment and gravitas which, despite their differences, enabled him to deal with Fingolfin as an equal. Fingolfin might never have held the title of High King of the Noldor uncontested had Maedhros not offered it voluntarily, with conditions and the support of Fingon. Paramount among those was unity. Among the most important details of that unity was the formation of a leaguer against Morgoth in the North. He took upon himself the least attractive and most dangerous outpost, flanked by his brothers.
There was something about the way our leader spoke, his voice, the way he walked, the way he sat a horse, with that flawless face and mane of flame colored hair that simply arrested the eye. It was not popular to say in those days, but he reflected a goodly measure of the fire and magnetism of his father. True Turgon loathed him and Galadriel underestimated him, but the majority of the rest of us, all things being equal, which, of course, they were not, never are among the contentious Noldor, could have followed him to perdition and back. One might even say that in the end we did.