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Old 08-16-2019, 09:41 PM   #27
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: Elven maturation and population growth

Originally Posted by Stormcrow View Post
Weeeeelllll, not really. Yes, it's a pre-Christian world, though Middle-earth was not always firmly meant to be our own Earth in a mythic past. The stories started out that way, but drifted away from it a lot.

But it's not the case that pre-Christian humans couldn't achieve the immortal souls that Christians could. In Tolkien's mythology, human spirits go somewhere unknown, while elves' spirits remain in the world to eventually be reborn or reincarnated. Some of the details of this changed over Tolkien's life, but this basic idea was always there. Elven mythology considers human death a Gift from Iluvatar, a positive feature which lets humans escape the weariness of the world in a way the elves cannot. Early humans, before they were corrupted by Morgoth, didn't become infirm with age; instead, they sensed that their time had come and would willingly flee their bodies and die Aragorn does this at the end of his life.

There was no original sin leading to mortality in Tolkien.
Though there most definitely was Original Sin. It didn't make Men mortal, but it did shorten our spans and turned Death into a fearful, frightening thing for us.


Humans were never immortal; they were just corrupted by Morgoth. They were taught to fear death and not accept it when it came. Humans not wanting to die cause some of the biggest problems in Middle-earth: Ar-Pharazon trying to conquer Aman; the nine kings of men who became the Ringwraiths. In Tolkien, it's unnatural for humans to live forever. Butter scraped over too much bread.
More precisely, it might be natural for us to want to live longer than we do, since our original natural spans were much longer, but we wouldn't like endless life on Earth if we could ever achieve it. It would be torment (i.e. Gollum, the Ringwraiths).

But Tolkien observed at one point that even if we could achieve physical immortality in the Elven sense, if our bodies remained hale and perfect indefinitely, after a due time we would grow weary of the world and the soul would long to escape from Ea. Various bad things would follow on from that.

Note also that it's also forbidden for an Elf to seek Death (capital D). Trying to escape from Ea is just as perverse and wrong for an Elf as seeking physical immortality is for a Man. Feanor's mother Miriel was attempting something approximating this, and it was an initiating trigger for much of the nastiness of the First Age.

What the Dunedain of Numenor appear to have had, in essence, was a partial 'suspension of sentence' for Original Sin. Their commoner lifespans were centuries long, and in the early generations they didn't particularly dread death at the end of their natural spans. They might or might not wish for a little more time, but they were at near-peace with their own nature in a way rare for Men.
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