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Minas Tirith Forums » Silmarillion » Union between different kinds (Page 2)
Author Topic: Union between different kinds
Galin
Guard of the Citadel
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quote:
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.
I think you are correct Alcuin, but if (emphasis on if) I recall rightly these mentions are from early writings, and if so, the question of whether or not they represent the world of Middle-earth as Tolkien would later imagine it, arguably arises. That (possibly wrong memory) is why I added that my opinion is with respect to "at least ultimately, or according to an older Tolkien"...

... and which is still only my opinion of course.

[ 11-08-2015, 11:13 AM: Message edited by: Galin ]

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Mithrennaith
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I think that Galin has voiced all the doubts that I had with Alcuin’s points, and more. Only one minor point remains:
quote:
[Alcuin:] 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.
Well, actually:
quote:
[Galin:] 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


(the operative term emphasised by me)

As a rule, mules and jackasses are not fertile. I seem to recollect that there are exceptions to that, but certainly at the time that Tolkien was writing, the common understanding of species was that it procreates itself recombining its gene-pool; closely related species may hybridise, but the hybrids are not fertile so cannot carry the genes of the one species into the other’s pool.

Now, that definition of species is no longer considered sufficient, what with quite distant species of bacteria exchanging DNA, the problems of dandelion species, and ring species like european herring gull/lesser black-backed gull. But at Tolkien was evidently quite familiar with the contemporary understanding, and so included the fertility (to both sides, it may be noted) of Half-Elves as a reason that Elves and Men were biologically one species. According to that understanding, he was therefor quite correct.


A slight extension of another point of Alcuin’s, that I seem to recollect that he has made elsewhere:
quote:
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.

As you said:
quote:
Finrod and Andreth debate this point in the house of Andreth’s cousin Belemir and his wife Adanel, .....
, that third person might also have been Belemir and Adanel’s grand-daughter Emeldir, who married Barahir.

And let me second Snöwdog’s thanks; I’m glad that you two picked up the ball where I left it years ago and have enjoyed the posts of both of you!


[e:] As to the ‘snipe hunt’ [] I think you’ll find several mentions or implications of more half-elves and elf-man marriages in the Book of Lost Tales II, in ‘Turambar and the Foälokë’, ‘The Fall of Gondolin’ and ‘The History of Eriol or Ælfwine’. Rateliff, in The History of The Hobbit, chapter IX, extends the uncertainty on the number of half-elves to the 1930s, but I see in that more an uncertain use of language than a real extension of the number of half-elves.

[ 08-24-2016, 03:59 PM: Message edited by: Mithrennaith ]

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I am in too great doubt to rule. To prepare or to let be? To prepare for war, which is yet only guessed: train craftsmen and tillers in the midst of peace for bloodspilling and battle: put iron in the hands of greedy captains who will love only conquest, and count the slain as their glory? Will they say to Eru: At least your enemies were amongst them? Or to fold hands, while friends die unjustly: let men live in blind peace, until the ravisher is at the gate? What then will they do: match naked hands against iron and die in vain, or flee leaving the cries of women behind them? Will they say to Eru: At least I spilled no blood?
'When either way may lead to evil, of what worth is choice? Let the Valar rule under Eru!
- Tar Meneldur [UT 2 II:173-174]

From: Amsterdam, Netherlands | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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