How many 'old' Elves are there in ME at the end of the Third Age?

Discussion in '"The Lord of the Rings"' started by gentleDrift, Nov 28, 2018.

  1. gentleDrift

    gentleDrift New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2017
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Germany
    Note: I hope this is in the correct subforum - I am mainly interested in getting some context for the Lord of the Rings, but the discussion naturally drifts into Silmarillion-material, as it does so often.

    This is a question I have been thinking about the last few days: How old was the average Elf in Middle-Earth at the time of the War of the Ring? How many of the Noldor in e.g. Rivendell were among the 'original' rebels that left Valinor with Feanor or Fingolfin? Are there some 'original' Elves left, i.e. ones that even remember the time at Cuivienen?

    I find these questions somewhat difficult to answer, since most of the named Elves that we do know have seen the two Trees or awoke at Cuivienen are dead/in Mandos' halls at this time, although there are of course some exceptions: We know Galadriel was alive during Feanor's rebellion and has been in Valinor. Glorfindel is kind of in a category of his own, but if he really is the reincarnation of the Glorfindel from Gondolin, then presumably he also was among the rebels. Should Gildor be the son of Finrod Felagund (because of the added name Inglorion and Finrod's name being Inglor in an earlier version), then Gildor can also be assumed to have been among the rebels, since Finrod's wife stayed in Valinor, if I recall correctly. We also know that Cirdan is reaaally old and might even have been one of the Elves to awake at Cuivienen.

    But as far as I know, that's it - of all the Noldorin rebels that are named in the Silmarillion (so mostly the House of Finwe), only Galadriel and Glorfindel remain at the end of the Third Age. Cirdan is certainly very old, but I don't think we know of any other Sindarin Elves that have definitely been around at the time of the Two Trees.

    So do we assume that the same is true for the general Elven population at the end of the Third Age? If we take the house of Finwe as a sample representing the entire population, then the overwhelming majority of Elves born before the rise of Sun and Moon have died or returned to Valinor already at the end of the Third Age. Consequently, most of the Elves we meet in the Lord of the Rings would never have been to Valinor, would never have seen any of the Valar and would have to rely on some very few individuals to tell them about these things.

    Of course, it might not be fitting to take the house of Finwe as a representative sample - most common Elves would not have to face Morgoth, Gothmog or Sauron in single combat, which appears to decrease life expectancy rather drastically (Feanor, Fingolfin, Fingon, Finrod and Gil-Galad send their regards). So maybe Rivendell was actually filled with ancient Elves remembering the Two Trees, the starlight in Varda's face or the night sky over Cuivienen, gossiping about that greenhorn Elrond acting all noble and wise with his mere 6000 years.

    Not that all this matters too much - it just changes my perspective a little on for example Gildor's Elves, singing songs in praise of Elbereth and traveling to the Havens, if I imagine that most of them have never actually been to Valinor and are mainly going off the tales of some select few that actually remember.

    I'm interested to hear your thoughts on this! If anybody knows something about the age structure of the Elves at the end of the Third Age, I'd be glad to learn about it. (Maybe something about this is mentioned in the later parts of the HoME, I've only gotten to the Return of the Shadow so far...)
     
    Azrubêl likes this.
  2. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Messages:
    210
    Likes Received:
    85
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Andrew
    Location:
    The Undying Lands
    I researched this once and made notes on the longest lived beings in Middle-earth, at the end of the 3rd Age, as accurate as I could find, ordered by birth date. Question marks mean exact year could not be found.

    1. Treebeard: "Eldest and fatherless" (see threads on subject :D) - 4th Age
    2. Bombadil: "Eldest and fatherless" (see threads on subject :D) - ?
    3. Plants and Animals: YL
    4. Galadriel: YT 1362 - 3rd Age 3021
    5. Celeborn YT ? - 4th Age, early
    6. Círdan: YT ? - 4th Age, later
    7. Sun and Moon: 1st Age 1
    8. Elrond: 1st Age 532 - 4th Age, early

    I wonder - is there a way to guess how many elves were born during each era?

    To my knowledge, there is no known elf from original 144 in the awakening at Cuiviénen in YT 1050 that appears later in Tolkien's writing, but the implication is that some of them COULD exist even through the 3rd Age.
     

  3. Miguel

    Miguel Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2018
    Messages:
    162
    Likes Received:
    71
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    San Diego
    Isn't Tom much older than Tree?. I thought Ents showed up around the same time Elves awoke.
     
    CirdanLinweilin likes this.
  4. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    595
    Likes Received:
    240
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Writer
    Location:
    Mission Viejo, California
    Yavanna brought the idea up to Eru for the Ents to defend trees because of Aule's creations destroying trees, so you are not wrong.

    When, though...I'll have to see.


    CL
     

  5. Galin

    Galin Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Messages:
    783
    Likes Received:
    260
    Trophy Points:
    63
    In The Road Goes Ever On Tolkien explains that most of the Elves of Rivendell were High Elves, and in this text "High Elves" basically refers to the Exiled Noldor. Gildor describes his troop as Exiles, which I take to be Elves who returned to Middle-earth in the First Age, led by Galadriel and others.

    For myself, I don't adopt the rejected idea of Inglor as the former name of Felagund into my head-canon. It's an interesting detail, but should remain external in my opinion.

    So if Inglorion means "son or descendant of Inglor" -- which I find most likely, although other interpretations are possible (I don't think Tolkien himself stamped a meaning for certain here, not in any texts published so far anyway) -- to me Inglor is basically an "unknown Elf" (relatively speaking) of the House of Finrod/Finarfin.

    Anyway, to me Galadriel is not the only Exile left in Middle-earth at the time of Frodo's tale.
     
  6. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Skulking near Archet

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2018
    Messages:
    679
    Likes Received:
    665
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Virginia, USA
    It may be that Tolkien simply never came to a completely consistent chronology on some of these things.

    Off Topic, but Happy Birthday to Azrubel, and to the dozen other members, past, present -- and future (!), who share a birthday today! :)

    (What is it about November 28th?o_O)
     
    Azrubêl and CirdanLinweilin like this.
  7. Galin

    Galin Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Messages:
    783
    Likes Received:
    260
    Trophy Points:
    63
    There is also the relatively unknow matter of the Avarin Elves.

    Not helpful I know . . . but they do exist!

    They do :D
     
    CirdanLinweilin likes this.
  8. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Skulking near Archet

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2018
    Messages:
    679
    Likes Received:
    665
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Virginia, USA
    Here's a question: would the children of Exiles consider themselves "Exiles" also?
     
    CirdanLinweilin likes this.
  9. Miguel

    Miguel Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2018
    Messages:
    162
    Likes Received:
    71
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    San Diego
    I like the name Inglor tho. Happy birthday Azrubêlinwë.
     
  10. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    595
    Likes Received:
    240
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Writer
    Location:
    Mission Viejo, California
    Happy Birthday, pal!


    CL
     
  11. Galin

    Galin Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Messages:
    783
    Likes Received:
    260
    Trophy Points:
    63
    You're absolutely correct! That is a question.

    ;)

    An interesting note on Cirdan (anyway):

    "Before ever they came to Beleriand the Teleri had developed a craft of boat-making; first as rafts, and soon as light boats with paddles made in imitation of the water-birds upon the lakes near their first homes, and later on the Great Journey in crossing rivers, or especially during their long tarrying on the shores of the "Sea of Rhun", where their ships became larger and stronger. But in all this work Cirdan had ever been the foremost and most inventive and skillful."

    JRRT, Last Writings, Author's Note 29, The Peoples of Middle-Earth
     
  12. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Skulking near Archet

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2018
    Messages:
    679
    Likes Received:
    665
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Virginia, USA
    So. . . what's the answer? :)
     
  13. Galin

    Galin Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Messages:
    783
    Likes Received:
    260
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Yes, no . . . or maybe maybe not?

    :D
     
  14. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Messages:
    210
    Likes Received:
    85
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Andrew
    Location:
    The Undying Lands
    Thank you, Galin! It is the best month of the year! Happy Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius!