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Author Topic: Union between different kinds
Artaresto
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As we have seen, the three unions between two kinds (Thingol - Melian, Beren - Luthien, Aragorn - Arwen), offered the same situation: The female kind jumps down a "level" (better word?), which leads to certain sacrifices. Aegnor the elf was in love with Andreth of Bëor's house. If there would have been a union between Aegnor and Andreth, would Aegnor have suffered from (or maybe benefitted from) the Fate of Men? As far I can see there is no implication to whether he would or not... Any ideas?
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Roll of Honor Thorin
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There were several unions of different kinds.

  • Thingol and Melian were a union of Elf and Maia.
  • Beren and Arwen, Aragorn and Arwen were unions of Man and Elf, where the elf chose mortality.
  • Tuor and Idril were a union of Man and Elf where the Man was placed among Elven kind.
  • Imrazor and Mithrellas were a union of Man and Elf, where the Elf left the union and disappeared.

Turin and Findulias was another possible union of Man and Elf, but that didn't work out. (Nothing seems to have worked out for Turin!)

All of these unions, with the possible exception of Thingol-Melian, came with the sacrifice of one party to share in the fate of the other's race. This sacrifice was not easy. The tale of Aragorn and Arwen in the Appendix makes this abundantly clear for their case. Did Tuor look back with longing at the Gift of Men that he could not receive? Who knows, but I wouldn't be surprised if he did have some regrets. I'm not sure one could say that one party was "down a level" as a result of these unions.

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Artaresto
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Doh, I forgot about Tour and Idril (*feeling stupid* [] ), but that changes the deal. If Ikeep to my earlier statements then Tuor jumps up a "level". But I still wonder, how is the choice of fate made? Arwen gets the Fate of Men, while Tuor appears to get the Fate of Elves, instead of Idril getting the Fate of Men. Is this choice made by the Rulers of Arda?
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Roll of Honor Thorin
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The decision to offer a choice comes ultimately from Iluvatar. The choice is made by those concerned.

quote:
But Mandos had no power to withhold the spirits of Men that were dead within the confines of the world, after their time of waiting; nor could he change the fates of the Children of Iluvatar. He went therefore to Manwe, Lord of the Valar, who governed the world under the hand of Iluvatar; and Manwe sought counsel in his inmost thought, where the will of Iluvatar was revealed.

These were the choices that he gave to Luthien. Because of her labours and her sorrow, she should be released from Mandos, and go to Valimar, there to dwell until the world's end among the Valar, forgetting all griefs that her life had known. Thither Beren could not come. For it was not permitted to the Valar to withhold Death from him, which is the gift of Iluvatar to Men. But the other choice was this: that she might return to Middle-earth, and take with her Beren, there to dwell again, but without certitude of life or joy. Then she would become mortal, and subject to a second death, even as he; and ere long she would leave the world for ever, and her beauty become only a memory in song.

[Of Beren and Luthien, The Silmarillion]

Note what I have italicized. The Valar have to play by the rules set down by Iluvatar.

But I'm still not comfortable with the words "up a level" or "down a level." The Gift of Men is not called a "Gift" for no reason. Being bound to Arda as the Elves were had it's own problems. We should not count Tuor as lucky compared to Luthien.

[ 03-06-2007, 05:03 AM: Message edited by: Thorin ]

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Artaresto
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I know, i wasn't particularly satisfied with the word level either, but since I was in kind of a rush i couldn't come up with anything better. Anyone got a better word?

Your explanation, Thorin, covers Beren's and Luthien's fate, I remember it now (long time since I last read Silmarillion - starting re-reading today). I assume Tuor got the fate of Elves, as is implied in the end of "The Fall of Gondolin". Would the fate of Tuor as well be a decision og Eru?

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Eluchil
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We should not be too quick about Tuor :
quote:
In those days Tuor felt old age creep upon him, and ever a longing for the deeps of the Sea grew stronger in his heart. Therefore he built a great ship, and he named it Eärrámë, which is Sea-Wing; and with Idril Celebrindal he set sail into the sunset and the West, and came no more into any tale or song. But in after days it was sung that Tuor alone of mortal Men was numbered among the elder race, and was joined with the Noldor, whom he loved; and his fate is sundered from the fate of Men.

The Silmarillion.


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The Dread Pirate Roberts
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The entire legendarium is supposedly a series of passed-down tales and songs. I don't think we should dismiss a statement simply because that fact is made explicit.

Tuor lives!

I like to believe/hope so, anyway.

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Mithrennaith
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Then this may support your belief:
quote:
In the primary story of Lúthien and Beren, Luthien is allowed as an absolute exception to divest herself of 'immonality' and become 'mortal' — ..... – though not mingling with other people : a kind of Orpheus-legend in reverse, but one of Pity not of Inexorability. Túor weds Idril the daughter of Turgon King of Gondolin; and 'it is supposed' (not stated) that he as an unique exception receives the Elvish limited 'immortality': an exception either way.

[L 153:16]


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Artaresto
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Cool [] . I like the idea of the 'elvish' Tuor. I agree with Dread Pirate Roberts , Tuor lives!
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The Dread Pirate Roberts
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That's part of what is so great about these legends. They are detailed enough for us to suspend disbelief easily and become a part of that world and yet enough ambiguity is left that we are often left to choose what to believe as truth and what to disbelieve as myth.
[]

[ 03-06-2007, 02:46 PM: Message edited by: The Dread Pirate Roberts ]

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Eluchil
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Just for the statement : I also like the idea of an "Elvish" Tuor, though it is "not stated".

[ 03-06-2007, 03:14 PM: Message edited by: Eluchil ]

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Mithrennaith
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I want to get back for a moment to Artaresto's "levels", even though he himself is not happy with the term.

It is true that in Tolkien's world the Mannish mortality, or "Gift of Men", and the Elvish immortality, or "serial longevity", as Tolkien sometimes calls it, are presented as being of equal worth, each having its own purpose and nature, not being simply the two faces of the same coin. Either of the two peoples can envy the other's Gift, and neither Gift is in itself positive or negative, each having aspects of both kinds. Mortality was not intended as a punishment, and was indeed no cause for fear and grief until the 'Fall of Men', described somewhere off-stage in the Athrabeth and the Tale of Adanel.

Yet there is one aspect in which mortality and immortality are treated unequal, and this manifests itself precisely in the treatment of the issue of Elf-Men unions, the Half-elven. At first it seems that when the Half-elven that exist at the end of the First Age are given the choice between Elvenkind and Mankind, between immortality and mortality, the two choices are equal in value and consequences. Of the four alive at that time, Eärendil, Elwing and Elrond choose immortality, Elros chooses mortality (it seems logical that the fëar of Eluréd and Elurín in Mandos - and also that of Dior, if one accounts him Half-elven - also had to choose, but as far as I can remember, we are never told about this).

But in the next generation it becomes clear that the two choices are in fact not of equal value, as they differ in consequences. Even though Elrond, having chosen Elvenkind, marries an Elf, his children still eventually have to make the same choice between Mankind and Elvenkind, mortality and immortality, and at least Arwen chooses mortality. Yet the children of Elros and his mortal wife, let alone their descendants further down the line, never have the choice, but have to accept mortality, whether they want it or not! And the same goes for the children of Arwen, begotten after she has chosen mortality and married mortal Aragorn, descendant of Elros.

Both the choice of Arwen, and the dissatisfaction of the descendants of Elros with not having the choice are of signal importance in Tolkien's Legendarium. Yet the existence of both at the same time (err ... [] ) is not really compatible with the equal value and equivalent individual purpose of mortality and immortality. If these were truly equivalent, then the consequences of the choice should be equal: either Elrond's choice for Elvenkind should be final like Elros' and his offspring bound to immortality, or Elros' choice should descend like Elrond's to subsequent generations, and his descendants should each be able to choose between mortality and immortality anew - and the same for the descendants of Arwen.

Once we had a long discussion on this at a smial meeting of Unquendor (the Dutch Tolkien Society), in which it was remarked that, despite Tolkien's insistance that mortality was not a punishment, it followed his characters like St Augustine's original sin: once you have chosen it, no subsequent generation can get rid of it, whereas immortality, like immaculacy, can be lost by each member of each subsequent generation anew through his own choice.

Somehow, this leaves the indelible impression that still, in a sense, Mankind is in a 'lower state of bonding energy between fëa and hröa' than Elvenkind; in certain circumstances the drop is possible, but not the jump, in no circumstance can it be the other way round.

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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Excellent observation. []

But why? Why would the children of Elrond get a choice but the children of Elros not get one?

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Eluchil
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I thought about it as well several times, but I come to the opposite conclusion []

The point is that only mortality is called a gift, not immortality. To choose to be immortal would then be "wrong". Descendants of the one who chooses to be immortal would still have a chance to make the "right" choice for themselves. On the opposite, the one who chooses to be mortal would make the "right" choice, which would explain why his descendants have no choice anymore.

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Mithrennaith
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Well, the trivial answer is that both (Arwen's choice and the Númenórean Kings' lack of choice) were needed to tell The Tale.

There is also a practical matter: for practical purposes Elrond's children were Elvenchildren (they "have the life of the Eldar", as Arwen says in App. A I v). It was reasonably plausible for them to keep on living for several millennia, waiting for the event triggering the necessity of choice to arise (end of the Third Age, Elrond's leaving for Aman).

But the children of Elros were Manchildren, who would have the life of the Edain: the Númenórean life expectancy of say 400 years. When should they make the choice? When they started to decline? Wouldn't then most of them choose immortality at that time? But could they then have been Kings of Men up to that time?

Elros became King of Men after (with the suggestion that it was at least partly because) he made the choice to belong to Mankind. Could his descendants then have become Kings before making the choice? Then perhaps the death of Elros should mark the ultimate moment of choice for his children, only being able to succeed if they chose Mankind by that time at the latest.

There is also a different way of reasoning that can arrive at the same conclusion. During the Second and Third Ages, and at least partway into the Fourth Age, it was naturally possible for both Elves and Man to live in the mortal lands of Arda: Middle-earth and environs. Only the Eldar could go to Aman, the immortal lands. If they were killed, their fëa could, should, and ordinarily would also go to Aman, to the Halls of Mandos. A Half-elf having chosen Elvenkind could also do this. That came with immortality.

Men could not go to Aman. But they had to die, and upon (or, in the ordinary course, soon after) death, their fëa would leave the Circles of the World altogether. And that, Elves could never do.

So the departure of Elrond overseas marks the point where he goes where Men cannot go. Apparently, until that point his children could live "the life of the Eldar" on the strength of their father living as Elf in mortal lands; they were 'Elves by courtesy' in a manner of speaking. After that, they could only live as either Men or Elves in Middle-earth upon their own express choice.

In this view, had Elros' children had the choice, they could likewise have lived the 'life of the Atani' as 'Men by courtesy' while their father was still in Middle-earth or Númenor, alive. As soon as he died and his fëa went where Eldar could not go, his children could only live as Men or Elves having made the choice.

This way of reasoning would provide for an equivalent right of choice for both 'Elvish Half-elven' and 'Mannish Half-elven', whatever their actual line of descent, and a clear point in time when their choice would have to be made.

But this would still leave another problem. During the Second and Third Ages there were only the three children of Elrond, on his side. But Elros had many descendants. Even if they had the choice to become Elves, there still would have been many Mannish descendants, each of whose children would have had the choice. I think that by the time of Aragorn, 62 generations later, virtually every Dúnadan would have descended from Elros!

Now, Eldarin society had no problem coping with three 'Elves by courtesy', who might one time decide to become mortal. After all, Eldarin society had had to cope with Eldarin death, even though there is a difference between going to Mandos, or going outside the confines of Eä. Also, if they decided to become mortal, they would dissappear from immortal ken in a short while (up to a yén, more or less).

But would Númenórean and Dúnedain society be able to cope with a sizable proportion of 'Men by courtesy' who might, within two hundred years at most, become Elves, and then could remain within mortal ken for Ages? And having chosen Elvenkind, would they indeed go to live with the Eldar, and how would Eldarin society cope with this influx of 'Elvish Half-elven', with one or more generations of 'Mannish Half-elven' (and Mannish spouses!) in their ancestry?

I end up with more questions than answers, but I think it shows that this 'what if' scenario would throw up more problems than Tolkien's actual Tale.

e: corrected three tiny typo's, one with very large consequences ...

[ 09-10-2007, 02:21 AM: Message edited by: Mithrennaith ]

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Artaresto
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[] Brilliant indeed

Many questions show up, but these questions still brings some answers, methinks. By putting the issue of choosing kind in perspective, I personally understand a little more of the difference between the choices. As an example:
quote:
how would Eldarin society cope with this influx of 'Elvish Half-elven', with one or more generations of 'Mannish Half-elven' (and Mannish spouses!) in their ancestry?
I believe this would have been a strange situation.

Tuor wasn't even half-elven, still he is said (and I believe) to be accepted among elvenkind. I guess that was a special case.

*Confused* []

The world of Tolkien is fiction, anything is possible, and these are some of many questions that will be forever unanswered.

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Mithrennaith
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My previous post was of course in answer to Thorin. I took so long about it, that Eluchil had slipped in between.

But I like what Eluchil says. It would explain the inequality within the Tale, in terms of the metaphysics of Tolkien's world. However, it would also leave the ordinary Elves who never had any choice somehow 'in the wrong', and in a worse position as where Finrod imagines himself to be after the athrabeth with Andreth.

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Snöwdog
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quote:
Why would the children of Elrond get a choice but the children of Elros not get one?
It appears that once a choice to be mortal, one gets no further choices to become immortal, for them or for their offspring. Makes sense really.
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Alcuin
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I like the explanations of both Mithrennaith and Eluchil. If I may make some additional points.

  1. To the notion of how many intermarriages there were between Men and Elves, I think we may assume there were many more than Tolkien enumerates. They no doubt became quickly fewer with time; but early in the First Age, there may have been several, and so the Elves learned to their undying regret that Men were “elsewhere-seekers”.

    We know most about the Three Unions – Beren and Lúthien, Tuor and Idril, Aragorn and Arwen – because they are the only three amongst the Ruling Houses of Elves and Men. There was a near miss, too: Turin and Finduilas, daughter of Orodreth (son of Finarfin), King of Nargothrond: had that union taken place, instead of the cursed union arranged by the malice of Morgoth through Glaurung the dragon, the First Age would have wound a different tale.
    .
  2. Before the judgment of Manwë regarding the fates of the Peredhil, Dior Eluchíl son of Beren and Lúthien passed through the Halls of Mandos. Mandos noted that the fates of Men cannot be changed or altered: they are all Mortal. This strongly implies that Elwing’s father Dior Eluchíl was mortal, his fëa had already departed Arda, and Mandos knew this with certainty. It does, however, leave open the question of whether Tuor and Idril had already made landfall in Eldamar: Tuor alone among Mortals was said by Númenóreans to be numbered among the Eldar, but unlike his son Eärendil, whose fate was known with certainty, I believe Tuor’s fate was less clear. (In other words, I think he was numbered among the Noldor, but the implication is that Men did not know that with certainty.)
    .
  3. My understanding is that Elrond could set aside his choice and follow his brother Elros until he left Middle-earth. He never did change his mind, but it brings up that interesting point that’s been gnawing at the thread, and galled the Númenórean kings: Elrond and his children could chose to be numbered among Men, but once made, the choice of Mortality was irrevocable for both the chooser and his descendents. Arwen told Aragorn no ship would (or more probably – could) bear her to the Uttermost West. Her choice was irrevocable both for her and for Eldarion her son. Lúthien’s choice was irrevocable both for her and for Dior her son. Elros’ choice was irrevocable both for himself and his many descendents.

    There is an asymmetry here that others have pointed out. I think it has to do with the fact that Elves are not immortal: they are longevial. The emissaries of Valinor tried to make this point to Tar-Atanamir, but he refused their reasoning. Elves have no expectation of existence beyond Arda. Men do. That’s the trade-off. Aragorn speaks to Arwen of hope of more than memory beyond the Circles of the World, but Arwen in grief and doubt wrestles with the despair of the ancient Númenóreans whom she previously scorned as wicked fools for their lack of faith. Finrod and Andreth debate this point in the house of Andreth’s cousin Belemir and his wife Adanel, a Wise-woman of the Third House from whom Andreth learned much of the “Old Hope”. Finrod discerns that the hope of Elves lies in Men, but neither he nor Andreth can imagine how it can come about.

    In this asymmetry, if you take hold of the Hope, you die a “good Númenórean”, as Tolkien puts it; if you reject it, one way or another you die a Black Númenórean. If you’re an Elf, and you take hold of the Hope of Men, you take on the lifespan of Men within Arda, and your soul (fëa) must leave Arda when your body (hröa) dies. Where it goes you do not know: you must trust Eru: your Hope is in Him. It you’re an Elf and remain an Elf, as do all but Lúthien and Arwen, you have not even the “Old Hope” of Men. Finrod told Andreth,
    quote:
    Our hunter is slow-footed, but he never loses the trail. Beyond the day when he shall blow the mort, we have no certainty, no knowledge. And no one speaks to us of hope. ... And yet at least ours is slow-footed, you would say? ... But it is not clear that a foreseen doom long delayed is in all ways a lighter burden than one that comes soon.
.
But their lack of choice, as they perceived it, so galled the Kings of Númenor that they rebelled and fell, and all their people with them save the remnant of the Faithful and the few surviving Black Númenóreans of Middle-earth.

[ 10-26-2015, 08:12 PM: Message edited by: Alcuin ]

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Galin
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Perhaps you mean something specific by "no expectation" of existence beyond the end of Arda, but I believe the Elves had hopes and beliefs about death (their ultimate death at the End of the World), just like Men did about mortal death.

I have never agreed with the idea of a nihilistic fate of the Elves (the ultimate annihilation of even the spirits of Elves) especially as theoried to proceed from the Christian Tolkien. The Elves are Children of God and indeed we find traditions concerning them after the Great End, concering their participation within New Arda.

For example Laws And Customs Of The Eldar notes, note iii: 'Fate of 'Immortal' Elves: ? to inhabit New Arda (or Arda Healed). Probably not, in a physical sense. (...) But New Arda or Arda Unmarred (Healed) would imply a continuance, beyond the End (or Completion). Of that nothing can be surmised. Unless it be this. Since the Elves (and Men) were made for Arda, the satisfaction of their nature will require Arda (without the malice of the Marrer): therefore before the Ending the Marring will be wholly undone or healed (or absorbed into good, beauty, and joy). In that region of Time and Place the Elves will dwell as their home, but not be confined to it. (...) ' JRRT


Tolkien goes on to speak of another possibility, a New Arda 'rebuilt from the beginning without Malice' in which the Elves will take part. JRRT also goes into this in the commentary to the Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth and notes (see quote below) that both absolute annihilation and cessation of conscious identity were wholly repugnant to Elvish thought and desire, and the Elves were ultimately obliged to rest on naked estel, trusting in Eru...

'... that whatever He designed beyond the End would be recognized by each fea as wholly satisfying (at the least). Probably it would contain joys unforseeable. But they remained in the belief that it would remain in intelligible relation with their present nature and desires, proceed from them, and include them."

Tolkien also wrote that the Elves '... still believe that Eru's healing of all the griefs of Arda will come now by or through Men; but the Elve's part in the healing or restoration of the love of Arda, to which their memory of the Past and understanding of what might have been will contribute. Arda they say, will be destroyed by Wicked Men (or the wickedness in Men); but healed through the goodness in Men. The wickedness, the domineering lovelessness, the Elves will offset (...).'

Of course Tolkien himself did not publish this (nor his ultimate Silmarillion of course). Anyway, it is stated that the Valar say Men shall join in the Second Music, but Manwe alone knows what God has purposed for the Elves after the End (not that there is no purpose, but it is not stated), and that Men indeed die and leave 'that which they have made or marred'.

In the constructed Silmarillion there is also a passage stating that the Valar have not seen with sight concerning the End. An interesting part of a letter concering Elves and Men and ultimate destiny...

'It is in any case neither side was fully informed about the ultimate destiny of the other (...) But what the 'end of the world' portended for it or for themselves they did not know (though they no doubt had theories). Neither had they, of course any special information concerning what 'Death' portended for Men. They believed that it meant 'liberation from the Circles of the world', and was in that respect to them enviable. And they would point out to Men who envied them that a dread of ultimate loss, though it may be indefinitely remote, is not necessarily the easier to bear if it is in the end ineluctably certain: a burden may become heavier the longer it is born.' JRRT 1963 Letters


I think the 'dread of ultimate loss' exists for both the Children. Both need estel, both need to trust in Eru regarding life after death (in the case of the Elves, 'death' at the World's End here).

Finrod

"You see us...still in the first ages of being, and the end is far off.... But the end will come. That we all know. And then we must die; we must perish utterly, it seems, because we belong to Arda (in [body] and in [spirit]). And beyond that what? The going out to no return, as you say; the uttermost end, the irremediable loss?"

To my mind Finrod is raising a seeming possibility that must be entertained (at least) by the Eldar ('we'), but in the very next paragraph he says that beyond the day when the hunter shall blow the mort: '... we have no certainty, no knowledge. And no one speaks to us of hope.'

According to the Author's Commentary: 'It seemed clear to them that their hroar must then end, and therefore any kind of reincarnation would be impossible. All the Elves would then 'die' at the End of Arda. What this would mean they did not know.'

They did not know, but various Elves had various ideas. Some argued that at the Great End each fea ceased to be, or ceased to have any more experience, residing only in the past. But even if an Elvish fea was able to consciously to dwell in or contemplate the past "this would be a condition wholly unsatisfying to its desire"


The commentary then goes on to say that: 'The alternative: that their fear would also cease to exist at 'the End', seemed even more intolerable. Both absolute annihilation, and cessation of conscious identity, were wholly repugnant to thought and desire' -- and later that the Elves, in the last resort: '... were obliged to rest on 'naked estel' (and etc).

I would think Finrod's personal opinion would rather line up with this later estel-related section of the commentary, as to me it just seems out of character for him personally to hold such a view that the Elves would cease to exist at the Great End.

No one speaks to the Elves of hope, because (with emphasis on the last part of this sentence): 'Beyond the 'End of Arda' Elvish thought could not penetrate, and they were without any specific instruction.' (Commentary p. 331 Morgoth's Ring), but yet they were obliged to rest on estel, and trust in Eru.

But Finrod does seem hopeful, describing his vision of Arda remade with the Eldar completed but not ended, abiding in the present forever, '... and there walk, maybe, with the Children of Men, their deliverers'

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Galin
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quote:
It you're an Elf and remain an Elf, as do all but Lúthien and Arwen, you have not even the "Old Hope" of Men. Finrod told Andreth,
quote:

"Our hunter is slow-footed, but he never loses the trail. Beyond the day when he shall blow the mort, we have no certainty, no knowledge. And no one speaks to us of hope. ... And yet at least ours is slow-footed, you would say? ... But it is not clear that a foreseen doom long delayed is in all ways a lighter burden than one that comes soon."

Again maybe you mean something specific here that the Elves have not even the Old Hope, but I believe they can have it, they just haven't been told about it in Aman, or until it was ordained to be imparted to them through Men (see below).

I think Finrod's words here (quoted above) are in response to the seemingly hopeless remark of Andreth, who earlier had said: "Otherwise it is with us: dying we die, and we go out to no return. Death is an uttermost end, a loss irremediable. And it is abominable; for it is also a wrong that is done to us." And after a bit more conversation Finrod asks Andreth: "And being thus pursued, have Men no hope?" said Finrod"

Andreth answers that they have no certainty and no knowledge, only fears, or dreams in the dark -- but that hope is another matter, and perhaps Andreth and Finrod will speak of it "anon".

It is then that Finrod speaks of the Great End and repeats Andreth's words: "... as you say "the uttermost end, the irremediable loss?" And then he says we (too) have no certainty, no knowledge "And no one speaks to us of hope." To my mind he is pointing out that the Elves still hope even though they have been given no certainty about the Great End, and no talk of hope from, say, even the Valar.

And in addition to Finrod's vision it is Finrod who (if much later in the conversation) explains about the two kinds of Elvish hope: amdir and estel -- and it's estel that the Elves keep "... even when we contemplate the End: of all His designs the issue must be for His Children's joy. Amdir you have not, you say. Does no Estel at all abide?"

After further discourse Andreth reveals something of the "Old Hope". This is a specific thing that some Men still believe, a "few" says Andreth, although their numbers had grown since they came to this land "and see that the Nameless can (as they think) be defied." That is, they see the Elves defying Morgoth.

The Old Hope is: "they say that the One will himself enter Arda, and heal Men and all the Marring from the beginning to the end. This they say also, or they feign, is a rumour that has come down through years uncounted, even from the days of our undoing."

After further discussion of how Eru could possibly enter into the world, in which Finrod says that (he thinks if) Eru wishes to do this he could find a way, and that if Eru will not relinquish his work to Melkor, then he [Eru] must come "in" to conquer Morgoth, Andreth thus looks up in wonder at Finrod and asks him if he believes in this Hope -- not hope but Hope, the Old Hope, and Finrod answers:

"Ask me not yet," he answered. "For it is still to me but strange news that comes from afar. No such hope was ever spoken to the Quendi. To you only was it sent. And yet through you we may hear it and lift up our hearts." He paused a while, and then looking gravely at Andreth said: "Yes, Wise-woman, maybe it was ordained that we Quendi, and ye Atani, ere the world grows old, should meet and bring news one to another, and so should learn of the Hope from you: ordained, indeed, that thou and I, Andreth, should sit here and speak together, across the gulf that divides our kindreds, so that while the Shadow still broods in the North we should not wholly be afraid."

Finrod has just heard this amazing thing! And to me he appears quite positive about it.

In my interpretation Finrod not only has amdir and estel, but is seemingly very open to the idea of the Old Hope, even as new as the concept is to him. Naturally enough he wants to think further about it, but already he even thinks that maybe it's ordained for the Elves to learn of this Hope through Men.

Why? The answer in my opinion is so that the Elves too can "partake" of this specific hope. The conversation then reveals Andreth's love for Finrod's brother, but I note Finrod's last words to Andreth in farewell, since he must go back to the defence and siege in the North: "... But you are not for Arda. Whither you go may you find light. Await us there, my brother -- and me."

So, if in fact Tolkien was going to publish The Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth (so far I'm not convinced that this is certain, despite that in addition to writing it, at least one note suggests that JRRT desired to publish it as an appendix to the Silmarillion, although possibly the text awaited a final edit, even if so), I think the Elves too would have the Old Hope, delivered through Men.

[ 10-28-2015, 06:10 AM: Message edited by: Galin ]

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Snöwdog
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The last three posts are why I like to delve deep into the depths of Minas Tirith and bring up a topic. Thanks you Galin and Alcuin!
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Galin
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Alcuin is one of my favorite posters on the web (and I'm glad to see him back here), but I'm afraid I don't agree with this:

quote:
To the notion of how many intermarriages there were between Men and Elves, I think we may assume there were many more than Tolkien enumerates. They no doubt became quickly fewer with time; but early in the First Age, there may have been several, and so the Elves learned to their undying regret that Men were "elsewhere-seekers".

We know most about the Three Unions – Beren and Lúthien, Tuor and Idril, Aragorn and Arwen – because they are the only three amongst the Ruling Houses of Elves and Men.

Granted my first examples are external, Tolkien as himself and not his "translator self", but in one letter he explains that the Elder Children live ultimately only by the "thin" line of their blood that was mingled with Men, and although that could be interpreted in different ways, Tolkien will later note:

quote:
"Elves and Men are evidently in biological terms one race, or they could not breed and produce fertile offspring -- even as a rare event: there are 2 cases only in my legends of such unions, and they are merged in the descendants of Earendil."

JRRT, 1954, draft letter 153

Even the editor of The Letters of JRR Tolkien footnotes that one would expect three, which itself leaves out the Mithrellas matter as well -- but despite that (I would agree that) the reader is likely to believe the opinion of Legolas, the Mithrellas legend is still presented as such, and not a certainty within the story.

This legend also contains an interesting detail to my mind, that after Mithrellas bore her husband a son and daughter "she slipped away by night and he saw her no more". Seems pretty strange for an Elven mother to "abandon" her children (if so), but whatever happened to her, the easier proof of Elven heritage has conveniently vanished: the House and kin of the Lords of Dol Amroth may be noble, and "fair in face and mind", but what of their proof of Elvish heritage?

An "immortal" Elf has vanished, and not taken or slain, but slipped away. Sounds like a "fairy wife" story to me, which could arise due to the quality of the nonetheless fully mortal house of Dol Amroth, their nobility and fair faces (or at least Imrahil's) fooling even Legolas.

Or... it was true.

According to a later text (Unfinished Tales) "in some versions" of the legend it was said to have been Nimrodel herself who had wed a mortal, in others and "more probably" it was one of her companions. True or not with respect to Elvish blood, there's some confusion here.

Anyway, back to the main matter: in the Athrabeth Finrod says:

quote:
"Nay adaneth, if any marriage can be between our kindred and thine, then it shall be for some high purpose of Doom. Brief it will be and hard at the end. Yea, the least cruel fate that could befall will be that death should soon end it."
Tolkien will comment: "Finrod was thus slain before the two marriages of Elves and Men had taken place, though without his aid the marriage of Beren and Luthien would not have come to pass. The marriage of Beren certainly fulfilled his prediction that such marriages would only be for some high purpose of Doom, and that the least cruel fate would be that death should soon end them." JRRT, commentary, Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth, Morgoth's Ring

It seems to me that Tolkien sometimes leaves out Arwen and Aragorn due to Arwen's half-elven status, although she apparently qualified as an Elda "in enough measure" to count as one of the Three Unions in Appendix A.

That all said, I realize one can claim that Finrod, being only a character within the story, was possibly unaware of some earlier unions between Elves and Men, or that Tolkien was really only concerned with the famous examples in any case...

... I get that. In my opinion however, I think there were really only a limited number of these unions, and I think this was (at least ultimately, or according to an older Tolkien) intended by the author.

[ 11-03-2015, 06:12 AM: Message edited by: Galin ]

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Snöwdog
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It was the exception rather than the rule. Yet it spawned squeeds of 'helf-elf' RP characters, usually teen girls writing teen girl warriors who would have none of how Tolkien saw femininity.
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Alcuin
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Thank you for the compliment, Galin: your regard is high praise!

Tolkien was more familiar with animals and breeding than I, coming from an earlier day in which farm animals of various sorts were better known. But if I could, I might be so bold as to remind the esteemed author that mules and jackasses are the offspring of horses and donkeys, two separate through related species. Other examples could be enumerated: lions and tigers, sheep and goats, camels and llamas. Anthropologists tell us different species of ancient humans intermixed, though Tolkien would not have known that. (Neanderthal was considered an extinct competitor in his day, not a contributor to the heritage of living humans.)

I suspect, though, that you are correct, and all such arguments are mere hair-splitting. I vaguely recall that someplace in HoME, there was mention of other unions of Elves and Men, but I cannot find it and am not disposed to spend time in what would likely prove a snipe hunt of my own making.

Still, it seems to me that Tolkien is not interested in what concerned “lesser folk”, and I do not use that in any demeaning sense: the Great Tales in his mythos primarily involve the ruling families of Elves and Men, and among these families – just as in the real world histories he studied as a professional philologist, the only ones who would be making recorded histories that were preserved – there were only three unions. But even if there were others among the “lesser” families of Elves and Men, Elves would quickly repent of them when not only did their mortal spouses quickly die, but their children of those marriages, too! Then word of Men’s mortality would spread like wildfire among the Elves, passing from East to West and Beleriand long before Men arrived.

Legolas recognized a strain of Elven blood in Prince Imrahil. Imrahil declined to confirm it, saying that was the tradition of his family. Mithrellas and her overnight vanishing act sound like the old British Celtic tradition of “fairy wives” who vanish after their children are born or weaned.

You are correct: Finrod does conclude the debate with Andreth with more hope than when he began; poor Andreth still seems shattered.

BTW, I like numbers, and using dates from HoME, I calculated that Barahir, father of Beren One-handed who did marry an Elf, would have been about 10 years old when this conversation took place. Andreth was Barahir’s aunt, and it’s conceivable that Barahir overheard this conversation! I have mused that while the boy could conceal himself from his aunt, Finrod might have been aware of him yet continued the conversation with Andreth. It that’s so, then the debate between Finrod and Andreth could have had enormous implications a generation later.

But as with my speculation on other unions between Elves and Men, there is no (published) evidence Tolkien ever considered this. In the conceit of the tale, however, someone wrote it down: Finrod, Andreth, or a third person who overheard.

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