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Topic: Why would a half-elf choose to live as an elf?

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Posts: 10
Date: Jan 5, 2012
Why would a half-elf choose to live as an elf?

From what we are told,  the Gift of Men releases men from the woes of this world and frees them to visit Illuvatar's glory in the next.   They will take part in the singing-in of the next world.

 

Elves, on the other hand, are bound to Arda until the world ends.  The get to: Hang out in Valinor,  hang out in the Halls of Mandos,  or diminish and eventually turn into ghosts if they choose to remain in Middle Earth too long.  Furthermore,  to the elves, nothing beyond the span of Arda is promised.  For all they know, their spirits fade into oblivion with the end of Arda-  it's a matter of estel for them that Illuvatar wouldn't not abandon them in such a way.

 

In a somewhat ironic matter, probably intended by Tolkien,  the spiritual state of affairs in Arda is somewhat the reverse of what it seems at first: Men are blessed with truly eternal life and elves get promised only life as long as Arda itself, and anything past that they take on faith.

 

If this is widely believed amongst the elves,  why would a half-elf choose to cast their lot with the elves?   In particular,  a half-elf such as Elrond who (eventually, anyway) was known for great knowledge and wisdom, and presumably would have enough contact with those who visited Valinor to have some good information on the matter.

I suppose a half-elf could be ignorant of the situation (but there are a lot quotes about the wise knowing what is really going on). Moreover, I suppose the half-elf could have extremly strong faith  that the spirits of the elves will be preserved by Illuvatar past the end of Arda that he'd take the bet,  but still...

 

I'm not sure if Tolkien ever addressed this issue for any particular half-elf, nor even if he divulged how much of the "true theology" was known to the wisest of elves and how much was kept hidden.  Anyway,  I just thought I'd like to bring the topic up:  It's not the slam-dunk decision most people think it would be on a first reading of the LoTR.

 



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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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Date: Jan 6, 2012
Very interesting thoughts steel. Are we ever given reasons why they would choose to be mortal though? Luthien and Arwen chose mortality because they had mortal husbands. As for Elros - perhaps he chose mortality because there was the added bonus of being the first King of Numenor thrown in?

Personally speaking I think I'd choose to be an elf. I'd sooner weather out all the Ages of Arda because I know that in the end Arda will cease and the elves will be assigned an unknown role in 'what comes after'. It isn't as though they are literally 'stuck 'for all eternity.

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Utúlie'n  aurë!  Aiya  Eldalië  ar  Atanatári,  utúlie'n  aurë! 
Auta  i  lómë! 
Aurë entuluva!

Guard of Armenelos - Rank 4
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Date: Jan 11, 2012
I agree with Glorfindel about the reasons behind Elros' choice to be of Man-kind. He would be granted a life three times that of lesser men and would rise to be a king for he did have, at one point, the same prowess of wisdom and knowledge as Elrond did. He could rule over lesser men and have much glory and power. I think that was the real draw for Elros...Power. That is the only reason I think someone would give up an opportunity for immortality. Or I should say immortality by mortal standards...

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Date: Jan 12, 2012

Something about Men ...

Seems I have heard from various sources (particularly spiritual ones) that eternal life is an option for Men.

The idea of being an Elf has its appeal too. Whether in a forest like Lothlorien or a keep like Rivendell, living there in the company of other elves sounds pretty good.

 

But then again ... I am a Bear ... and an Elf-Friend ... and that is good enough for me.

 

Do you think Tolkien would have it any other way?



-- Edited by Bear on Thursday 12th of January 2012 05:48:09 PM

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Loremaster Elf of Mirkwood - Rank 4
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Date: Jan 14, 2012

Even though Tolkien thought of himself as being more "hobbitish" in his manner and likes, look how much he wrote about the Elves. So much of his works brought this Elder race to life. The Hobbits too, of course. But he wrote that on falling asleep he would often dream and in the morning he would write down what he called .....the "something" latin meaning the early beginnings of the Noldorin High Elven language. Words are escaping me right now.

Elves were the first born and called the Children of Eru. I can see why Elrond and maybe even his sons would choose to take on the nature of the Elves. I really cannot see, after reading Tolkien's works, how Eru would let this race pass away into nothingness. It would in a phrase, "go against the grain".

For myself, something about Tolkien's Elves resonates strongly with me. And Bear is indeed a true Friend of the Elves. We cherish him greatly.


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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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Date: Jan 15, 2012

I think this is worth quoting:


"Some  argued  that,  although  integral  and  unique  (as  Eru from whom  they  directly  proceeded),  each  fea,  being   created,  was finite, and might therefore be also  of finite  duration. It  was not destructible   within  its   appointed  term,   but  when   that  was reached  it  ceased to  be; or  ceased to  have any  more experience, and 'resided only in the Past. 

But they saw that thisdid not  provide any  escape. For,  even if an  Elvish  fea  was able  'consciously' to  dwell in  or contemplate the  Past,  this  would  be  a condition  wholly unsatisfying  to its desire.  (Reference  to  Author's  Note  8)  The  Elves had  (as they said  themselves) a  'great talent'  for memory,  but this  tended to regret rather  than to  joy. Also,  however long  the History  of the Elves might become  before it  ended, it  would be  an object  of too limited  range. To  be perpetually  'imprisoned in  a tale'  (as they said), even if it was a  very great  tale ending  triumphantly, would become  a torment.(5) For greater  than  the  talent  of  memory  was the  Elvish talent  for making,  and for  discovery. The  Elvish fea was  above  all  designed  to  make things  in co-operation  with its hroa.

Therefore in  the last  resort the  Elves were  obliged to  rest on 'naked estel'  (as they  said): the  trust 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 unforeseeable.  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." Morgoth's Ring

Interesting stuff.



-- Edited by Glorfindel1235 on Sunday 15th of January 2012 11:10:01 PM

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Utúlie'n  aurë!  Aiya  Eldalië  ar  Atanatári,  utúlie'n  aurë! 
Auta  i  lómë! 
Aurë entuluva!

Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Date: Jan 16, 2012

Glorfindel 1235,

I agree! Very interesting stuff.

As  beings who had a "talent  for making,  and for  discovery", and (as the Elves said of themselves) a  great talent  for memory',  tending 'to regret rather  than to  joy', then their experience in the here and now would be what made their life worth living.
The key word is "experience".

"Each  fea,  being   created,  was finite, and might therefore be also  of finite  duration. It  was not destructible   within  its   appointed  term,   but  when   that  was reached  it  ceased to  be; or  ceased to  have any  more experience, and 'resided only in the Past."

Their memory may have been of greatest strength, filled with the sensory, the emotional, and even spiritual enlightenment ... when confronted with the loss of the ability to create and discover (whose roots are in experience) then regret would be their lot.

 

But in the quote you presented ... there are other strange attributes ... perhaps not "strange" ... and those are the attributes of  trust and fait ...  that is  "the  trust 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 unforeseeable.  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."


I think this points to some core values that Tolkien imparts to all of his creations ... at least the noble ones ... those being trust, faith, creativity, modest delight in the sensory, respect and knowledge of the past, and the willingness to explore and embrace what we do not know.

 

And I think that makes a case for being a Man or an Elf.

Well done my friend!!!



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Called or uncalled, God is present

Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Posts: 10
Date: Feb 7, 2012

Hi All.

 

Thanks for the replies.  I have thought about this some more in recent weeks.  I now think that it would be very unlikely for a half-elf to choose to live as a man so as to ensure life after the span of Arda.

 

If the particular half-elf in question is largely ignorant of the spiritual state of affairs in Arda (as we "know" them from Tolkien's works and notes),  he would likely view things the way the reader first sees them:  Men die early, and elves live an indefinite span. What happens next to either is a matter of faith or speculation.  So this biases him towards choosing to live as an elf.

 

If the half-elf in question is well-informed about the spiritual state of affairs in Arda,  it would seem to me that such an elf would have very strong faith that Eru provides for the elves after the span of Arda. To me, this seems implied by Tolkien's writings on estel, and his conception of elves as a more perfect, "less fallen" , forerunner to humanity.   It seems very unlikely that a half-elf would simultaneously believe that humans are blessed with life beyond Arda,  and that elves risk oblivion.  

Indeed,  a well-informed half-elf would probably believe that his eternal fea is provided for by Eru regardless of the choice,  so he makes his choice based on how he would like to live his life and how he feels he can best serve Eru's plan.

The question of how many elves and half-elves were "spiritually  well-informed" quickly descends into unanswered questions about the wild elves.... Presumably, all elves in contact with elves who traveled to Valinor would have a good understanding of how thing are.

Thanks everybody!

 



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