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Thread: Can elves give up their immortality?

  1. #1
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    Can elves give up their immortality?

    In the Silmarilion the fact that Tinuviel gave up her immortality is mentioned. She could not do it by her own but only by asking the valar to do it, and by that sacrifice Beren has returned from the dead...
    In the movie(I am not sure that it also appears in the book), Arwen tells Aragorn that she will give up her elvish "doom" - immortality, for staying with him in Middle Earth(at least that what I understood).
    I have two questions:
    1. Did it happen also in the book? if it did, where?
    2. Can she give up her immortality by her own decision, without asking the Valar?
    Last edited by Nazgul; 12-25-2001 at 06:28 PM.

  2. #2
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    Well... it's weird.
    I'm far behind on my Silmarillion lore, but I do know that Luthien, a pure-blooded Elf, required the permission of the Valar to save Beren and give up her immortality.
    Arwen is a Half-Elf, and as such is presented with the same choice as Elrond and Elros. She chose the doom/gift of Men in order to remain with Aragorn. She also, in some sort of gesture that must have been more than symbolic, gave her place in Aman to Frodo (and presumably by extention to the other two Ring-bearers). How Gimli was allowed to go is something of a mystery.
    In all the cases that exist, Elves give up immortality through some sort of choice presented by the Lords (and Ladies! ) of the West. There is no case in which a pure Elf gives up their immortality for no particular reason. However, as the doom of Men is called by the Elves "Iluvatar's Gift," it might possibly be assumed that some enterprising Elf might have wanted to cut their bonds to Arda. But we don't know of this ever happening.... personally, I'm lead to beleive that a "voluntary mortality" is only possible with good reason, and probably would not be normally granted by the Valar.
    If someone more knowledgable has something to add....

  3. #3
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    I think that pretty well sums up the choosing mortality debate, but it does open up two other topics that were once debated on these boards:

    1) If half-elves choose to become mortal, then all of their offspring are mortal without getting the same choice (much to the lament of the later kings of Numenor). However, if half-elves choose to be counted among the firstborn, then their children are still considered only 'half' elven, and apparently never gain full elven status, even if the other parent is full-elven (Arwen's mother was full-elven, and Elrond chose to be elven, yet Arwen still had to make the choice).

    2) Frodo, Bilbo and Sam (and later Gimli) were given permission to sail to Aman. Does this mean that they lived forever (it was the undying lands), or merely that they were allowed the grace of viewing the undying lands and visiting the valar before the end of their days (the Numenoreans were told that '..it is not the land of Manwe that makes its people deathless, but the deathless that dwell therein have hallowed the land.').

  4. #4
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    Hi all and Happy Holidays!

    On the subject of Gilmli going to the Uttermost West, I believe there was a note at the end of "Tale of the Years" in the appendices that it was thought that Galadriel obtained that favor for him. Which raises a couple of other questions:
    1) How did the writer of that part of the Red Book know this? It had to be a guess, didn't it?
    2) As great and noble as Galadriel was, why would the Valar permit it? Because he was a member of the Fellowship? If I were Merry or Pippin, I'd have hired a lawyer (although, since they had already died, I guess that would've been hard). I always thought that Tolkien wrapped that up a little too neatly.
    3) How did Gimli know that he was allowed to go?

    At the risk of being too practical (a fault of mine, I must confess), how did any of those who had to make the choice on whether to be Elf or Man actually make that choice? Did one of the Valar come to ME and talk to them? Was it psychic?

    I believe I read somewhere (can't remember where, dang it) that Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam stayed mortal when they got to Aman, but since the Ring was part of ME and they were no longer in ME, the pains they incurred vanished.

  5. #5
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    They remained mortal, and died in the fullness of time. That much is certain.
    The appendices seemed to give the impression that Gimli was allowed to go mostly because of the very dear friendship between him and Legolas. But this didn't seem like enough to me, nor, apparently, to the writer of the Red Book. Your Galadriel idea is more logical...

  6. #6
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    Luthien Tinuviel is the only Elf to be allowed to give up her 'immortality. Only a direct act of God allowed this, and JRRT called her change of Fate an 'absolute exception'.

    As for the 'Half-elven', the Judgement of Manwe states that anyone with any mortal blood is mortal unless Manwe grants them some other Doom.
    Tar-Elenion
    Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.
    Moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue.

  7. #7
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    Elenion is here!

  8. #8
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    "...and to Earendil and to Elwing, and to their sons shall be given leave each to choose freely to which kindred their fates shall be joined, and under which kindred they shall be judged."-Manwe, in Silmarillion

    I am pretty sure that only the descendents of Earendil could choose which kindred they would join, as Tuor, Dior and other such people who were half elven did not have the ability to choose. Also, this was the first time in the book where they mention the ability for half elven people to choose. This is stated close to the end of Quenta Silmarillion

    As far as whether elves can choose if they were immortal, I would think not, because man's 'special gift' given to them by Illuvatar was death, and if elves could choose to truly depart from Arda it would kind of defeat the purpose of man. I think the only reason Luthien could choose, is because it was a special exception decided by Illuvatar himself because of her immense love for Beren, whom she travelled through many perils with. In the Silmarillion she was given the choice from Illuvatar to either live in Valinor without Beren, or to become mortal and live with him on middle-earth.
    Last edited by The Phony Pope; 01-11-2002 at 01:36 AM.

  9. #9
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    Originally posted by Cian
    Elenion is here!
    Hello Cian. Long time no see. I was wondering where you had been keeping yourself entertained.
    Tar-Elenion
    Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.
    Moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue.

  10. #10
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    Far and wide is the fame of Tar-Elenion known. The undeserving Grond is humbled by your presence. (If Cian thinks it's great your here... hey! Who am I to disagree with Cian?)
    Feanor's Legacy by Grond
    Out of evil, came good... out of hate, came love... out of darkness came light... out of death came life.

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  11. #11
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    1)yes, it tells you in Return of the king in the Appendix, a. part 5
    2)The Valar give the half elven the choice of going over the seas to the elven haven or staying in Middle earth to die mortally


    I hope this helps you, tho i can see that you already have had alot

  12. #12
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    Hello Tar-E. Yep, been a while since our paths crossed. Séyan ranya menello menenna as Helge F. put it, or: "I seem to ramble from place to place".
    Well met again

    The Hammer of the Underworld agrees :grin:
    Last edited by Cian; 01-11-2002 at 06:01 PM.

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