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Old 08-16-2019, 12:54 PM   #19
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Ronkonkoma, NY
Default Re: Elven maturation and population growth

Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Yes, exactly. Tolkien was quite clear that Middle-Earth was a pre-Christian world, where the best you could have was virtuous pagans, and the only immortality they could hope for was to be remembered.
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. 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.
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