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Minas Tirith Forums » Silmarillion » Why were Elves made immortal and humans made mortal?
Author Topic: Why were Elves made immortal and humans made mortal?
Angathas
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I've wondered why when the Valar and Ainur created the races that they would make the Elves immortal, but not give long life to Men (humans). It seems that the Elves and Men would always be the two races that would dominate Middle-earth, and also be in competition with each other. Of course, the dwarves also have immortality. Certainly, Elves and dwarves can die in battle, but not from disease and other afflictions the way Men can.

But from what I have read in The Sil., Men pay the price of their mortality for having Free Will. Men can make their own destiny, traditions, customs, and their own civilization. They can have lives full of wonder and delight, as well as challenging lives filled with strife and terror and tragedy. And since their days are numbered, life as a mortal Man might have more meaning.

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The Flammifer
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Angathas says:
quote:
Of course, the dwarves also have immortality. Certainly, Elves and dwarves can die in battle, but not from disease and other afflictions the way Men can.
If we look at the Line of the Erebor Dwarves we see that the average (natural) lifespan of a Dwarf is about 250 years. Dwarves don’t have immortality.

As for Men it’s not called “The Gift of Men” for nothing.
Hmm, what does one do for an eternity?
I’m getting bored already. []

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Alcuin
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Good observation, Flammifer. The average age of the Dwarves listed in the genealogy in Appendix A is 259 years, the median 251; the average is higher because of the extreme age listed for Dwalin, 350 years. That could be a misprint: Christopher Tolkien says in Peoples of Middle-Earth, “Making of Appendix A”, note 17, that although it is hard to make out, it appears that at first, Dwalin’s age at the time of his death was 251 years. As it stands, Dwalin died almost a century into the reign of Aragorn Elessar, rather than 4 years after the destruction of the One Ring. Had he lived to 251 years, both the average and median ages would be 251, and Borin son of Náin II the eldest in the list at 261. The minimum age listed for a Dwarf not killed in battle is 242.

CJRT also says in the next note that most of the sons of the kings were born when their fathers were 101 or 102; analysis of the table gives average and median ages of 102, with a range of 96 to 110 years.

Durin I was called “The Deathless” because he lived so long, but even “he died before the Eldar Days had passed,” (cf. Appendix A) presumably before the end of the First Age.

The Ainur – the Valar and Maiar – did not make Men or Elves. The Children of Ilúvatar were just that – the Children of Eru, and His alone. The Ainur had no hand in the making of Elves or Men, nor did they know when or where they would awaken. Oromë discovered the Elves by Lake Cuiviénen in the East of Middle-earth. Where Men awoke was not clearly known to the Eldar, nor did Men clearly remember it. The Eldar of Beleriand called it “Hildórien”, also somewhere in East of Middle-earth, but that only means Land of the Hildor or “Aftercomers”, one of their names (and one of the more polite ones) for the Secondborn Children of Ilúvatar.

The spirits of the Elves could not depart Arda. They were not “immortal”, but rather extraordinarily longevial. If you’re interested, Angathas, there is a discussion of this Morgoth’s Ring in a section called “Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth (The Debate of Finrod and Andreth)”. Finrod is Finrod Felagund, Galadriel’s eldest brother, whose younger brother Aegnor fell in love with a woman of the First House of the Edain, Andreth. The conversation between Finrod and Andreth grew quite heated, especially on Andreth’s side, because she also loved Aegnor, and could not understand why, if Aegnor loved her, he would not show his love in return. It’s heart-wrenching.

Andreth learned much from Belemir’s wife Adanel, a “wise-woman” of the Third House (the House of Hador) who in turn had learned such lore the Edain recalled of their beginnings. Andreth told Finrod that Men were not Mortal in their beginning, but became Mortal because they had worshipped Morgoth, who came among them in disguise to spread greed, fear, hate, and murder. Finrod was shocked: the Eldar suspected nothing of the sort. Andreth also told him of the “Old Hope” spoken among Men: that Eru Himself would enter into Arda and correct its marring by Morgoth and his servants. Finrod is astounded. He tells Andreth,
quote:
Our hunter [the eventual death of the Elves when Arda ends] is slow-footed, but he never loses the trail. Beyond the day when he shall blow the mort [the note sounded on a horn at the death of the deer at the end of a hunt], we have no certainty, no knowledge. And no one speaks to us of hope. … It is not clear that a foreseen doom long delayed is in all ways a lighter burden than one that comes soon. But if I have understood your words thus far, you do not believe that this difference was designed so in the beginning. You were not at first doomed to swift death.
This is echoed by Aragorn, when dying he tells grieving Arwen,
quote:
In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory.
Andreth’s nephew was Barahir, who was about 10 years old when the conversation between Finrod and Andreth took place in the house of Belemir, whose daughter, Emeldir, married Barahir. It’s quite possible that either or both of Beren’s parents at an early age overheard this conversation about the lives, expectations, and religious beliefs of Elves and Men. As an adult, Barahir saved Finrod’s life in the Dagor Bragollach or Battle of Sudden Flame. The relationship between Barahir, Beren, and Finrod is complex. If either of Beren’s parents did overhear this conversation and passed it along to Beren, it must have informed his relationship with Lúthien.

[ 12-28-2015, 12:58 PM: Message edited by: Alcuin ]

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Angathas
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Thanks, Flammifer. I forgot that the Dwarves can live a long time, but not forever.
From: Staten Island, New York 10306 | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Angathas
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The name "elves" seems such a misnomer. Certainly, the Eldar don't call themselves Elves; the other races do that. The Vanyar, Noldor, and Teleri seem to be an advanced race -- not human --- and also the most favored of all the races in Middle-earth.

For all the magic and elitism of the High Elves, I'm happy that the Istari were basically Men (even though elderly), and in the service of helping the Man races (and Hobbits and Dwarves -- at least Gandalf thought so).

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The Flammifer
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The Elves were often called The Firstborn. I find it interesting that actually Aulë (without the consent of Eru)) created the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves BEFORE Ilúvatar created the Elves (Firstborn) or Men (Aftercomers). Even though these Dwarves were ‘put to sleep’ for a period of time by the grace of Eru until His making of Elves and Men they were still firstborn.

Of course using the phrases “Children of Ilúvatar” (Elves & Men) or “Firstborn of Ilúvatar” (Elves) clarifies the position, but then using the word “Firstborn” alone seems open to interpretation. I wonder why the Dwarves in their stubbornness and pride didn’t bring up this fact on occasion in LotR? Just thinking. . . .

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faithfull
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Meh - Elitism is a side of society that I find unworthy of much intellectual energy. []
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The Flammifer
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We all appreciate your valuable input into this topic. [] []
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Hamfast Gamgee
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I think that the Elves where immortal because everyone had been immortal up to this point and it took Eru a while to think that there was another alternative to being.
From: Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, The Shire! | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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