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Thread: Peak Elvish Populations During The First Age

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011

    Peak Elvish Populations During The First Age

    Last edited by Cirdan; 04-17-2012 at 09:43 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2004

    Re: Peak Elvish Populations During The First Age

    [13] "In one Valian year the Eldar dwelling there grew and developed in much the same way as mortals did in one year upon Middle-earth. ... Nonetheless the Eldar 'aged' at the same speed in Aman as they had done in their beginning upon Middle-earth." - HoME-X, "Myths Transformed XI - Aman" p.426 -

    This is important. I had wondered if things were slowed down for the Elves while they lived in Aman. Maybe they'd waited longer before marriage, or having children, or maybe their libido was lessened. It doesn't seem to be the case.
    In the context of this text an Elf-child took about 3,000 Sun Years to grow to be an adult (between 20 and 21 Valian Years, interestingly). That said, and despite the rather large difference, I have wondered myself if this idea was mean to be part of the same general concept as the one from Laws And Customs Among The Eldar (50 years or for some 100) that you have employed above, because the idea might be that this rate dwindled in Middle-earth but not in Aman -- the other detail being that in the text Aman it is certain that 1 Valian Year equals 144 Sun Years.

    Although whether Laws And Customs and Aman are consonant or not on this point, Tolkien seemingly had other ideas as well, especially noting the late date on the last idea below.

    'They' are the Númenóreans: 'Thus (as the Eldar) they grew at much the same rate as other Men, but when they had achieved 'full growth' then they aged, or 'wore out', very much more slowly.' Note 1, The Line of Elros, Unfinished Tales. Or, author's notes to NKE ('neter, kanat, enek'): Note 1: 'C.E. ? netthi. C.E. tth > Q., T. tt; S. þþ > þ. nette meant 'girl approaching the adult' (in her 'teens': the growth of Elvish children after birth was little if at all slower than that of the children of Men). The Common Eldarin stem (wen-ed) wendé 'maiden' applied to all stages up to the fully adult (until marriage).' JRRT, from Vinyar Tengwar 47, texts generally dated 1967-70

    Also I tend to wonder if the legend of the awakening represents true historical numbers, givin that it's an Elvish fairy-tale mingled with counting lore, although on the other hand, that could be the truest part of the story I guess!

    I realize this isn't helping

    But anyway, according to the text Aman, in Aman a 50 year old Elf would be less than half a 'year' old as far as growth is concerned, and the same for Elves in their beginning it seems (however long this period is imagined to last) -- but this was also possibly in tune with a much longer history, given 144 instead of 9.582, if using the dates in the Annals of Aman (putting aside any arguable problems of chronology one might encounter by simply plugging in 144 using the dates in the Annals).

    Of course I realize you have to pick one notion and employ it (and Laws and Customs is the most well known idea right now it seems), or pick 'three' and do three different scenarios... if there are really three that is!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004

    Re: Peak Elvish Populations During The First Age

    We know they are re-born as children, not just given back their bodies (which is what I'd assumed before reading that). This means we never have to account for dead Elves being re-added back into the population count.
    Also we know that Tolkien ultimately rejected this idea. Morgoth's Ring is a great book but not everything in this volume held up against revision (and Christopher Tolkien even made an error in the section on Elven reincarnation, one that he would later correct).

    Tolkien's last idea seems to be that the Valar reconstituted an exact hroa (roughly 'body') for the Elven fea (roughly 'spirit') -- other considerations aside here, the basic idea of an Elf born again as a child was rejected by JRRT, or this was at least to be noted as a false idea internally.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2004

    Re: Peak Elvish Populations During The First Age

    Saying that, Myths Transformed XI p426-427 goes on to speak of everything native to Aman having a rate of growth equal to one Valian Year = one Middle-Earth year. Because of their "immortality", all things in Middle-Earth were swift to change and die or pass away. Etc etc, I doubt I need to quote it to you. Anyways, it was because of that part that my take was of no real change as far as physical growth is concerned, only in mind.

    But wouldn't that mean that Elves grew or grew up far swifter than plants and animals in the world of Aman? For example if an Elf-child had a puppy, in about 50 years the average Elf would be an adult, but the Aman-puppy would still be less than one year old. Not impossible of course, but I think the growth of Elvish bodies is included. I also tend to think Tolkien later abandoned this concept, and had his Elves age at about the same rate as Men... unless that too was the ultimate result of a dwindling in Middle-earth! Which doesn't seem all that likely to me, but...

    I did read that the Cuivienyarna is fairy-tale / lore, but if we can't assume it as "fact", at least for this thread, then there's not much to build on!
    That's true, and I realize one has to start somewhere

    Do you know roughly where I can read about the later revision of "re-birth", before I search for it myself (though, the separate Index book makes finding things pretty easy)? Still, for the purposes of figuring out population, I don't think it's very relevant during the First Age and before.

    This road leads to the Glorfindel essays (Glorfindel I and II) in The Peoples of Middle-Earth. As other roads do too


    '(...) Whereas on Earth to them all things in comparison with themselves were fleeting, swift to change and die or pass away, in Aman they endured and did not so soon cheat love with their mortality. On Earth while an Elf-child did but grow to be a man or woman, in some 3000 years, forests would rise and fall, and all the face of the land would change, while birds and flowers innumerable would be born and die in loar upon loar under the wheeling Sun.'

    Text XI, Morgoth's Ring, Myths Transformed

    Three thousand years! yet I think this might reflect an earlier (internally earlier) maturity rate for Elves, with the rate becoming swifter in Middle-earth. In the same text, it is also said: 'Nonetheless the Eldar 'aged' at the same speed in Aman as they had done in their beginning upon Middle-earth' And Christopher Tolkien noted in his commentary on Text XI: 'I realized that it stands in fact in very close relationship to the manuscript of Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth,...' and in that text Finrod notes:

    'This I can well believe,' said Finrod: 'That your bodies suffer in some measure the malice of Melkor. For you live in Arda Marred, as do we, and all the matter of Arda is tainted by him, before ye or we came forth and drew our hroar and their sustenance therefrom: all save only Aman before he came there. For know it is not otherwise with the Quendi themselves: their health and stature is diminished. Already those of us who dwell in Middle-earth, and even we who have returned to it, find that the change* [*the word change was an emendation to the typescript B (only); the manuscript has growth -- footnote by CJRT] of their bodies is swifter than in the beginning. And that, I judge, must forebode that they will prove less strong to last than they were designed to be, though this may not be clearly revealed for many long years.'

    Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth (and see Author's note 7 on the Commentary)

    This work is generally dated to about the same time (late 1950s) as Laws And Customs too -- noting that the manuscript of the debate is said to be: 'very similar in style and appearance to that of Laws and Customs among the Eldar.'

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2004

    Re: Peak Elvish Populations During The First Age

    Quote Originally Posted by markoffc View Post
    It would! But wasn't Aman a creation of the Valar, and the plants and animals a creation of Yavanna? [I think] they didn't originally intend to have the Elves living there. Wasn't everything about them a mystery to everyone save Ilúvatar?
    The text Aman also relates (after informing the reader that time in Aman was actual time not a mode of perception):

    'It was however, the fact that the Elvish speed of 'growth' accorded with the unit of Valian time* that made it possible for the Valar to bring the Eldar to dwell in Aman, In one Valian year the Eldar dwelling there grew and developed in much the same was as mortals did in one year upon Middle-earth. (...) though we must not forget that within any such 'year' the Eldar enjoyed an immense series of delights and achievements which even the most gifted of Men could not accomplish in twelve times twelve mortal years.'

    *not by the design of the Valar, though doubtless not by chance. That is, it may be that Eru in designing the natures of Elves and Men and their relations one to another and to the Valar ordained that the 'growth' of the Elves should accord with the Valian perception of the progress of the ageing of Arda, so that the Elves should be able to cohabit with the Valar and Maiar. Since the Children appeared in the Music, and also in the Vision, the Valar knew something or indeed much of the ordained natures of Elves and Men before they came into existence. They knew certainly that Elves should be 'immortal' or of very long life, and Men of brief life. But it was probably only during the sojourn of Orome among the fathers of the Quendi that the Valar discovered precisely what was the mode of their lives with regard to the lapse of time.'

    That part caused me confusion, particularly because of the placement of the two commas near "3000 years". I actually read that line three different ways: (...) Though I suspect now the first example is the intent.
    I agree: I think the 3,000 years refers to both Elves growing up and the forests (and birds and flowers and so on), in other words in these three thousand years, compare the 'mere' growth of an Elf-child to an adult to how much the world changes in that same amount of time. This is a grief to the Quendi -- still true even after they reach adulthood of course, which is mitigated in Aman however, in measure at least. Interestingly, it hardly seems an accident that an Elf is considered an 'adult' at about 20 or 21 'years' old (working with 144) -- incidentally, I note how old Arwen Halfelven was when she was wed, according to Elvish Long Years I mean (1 Elvish year = 144 Sun Years).

    Now I feel out of my league trying to figure this out!
    Maybe just go with (as maybe it's Tolkien revising earlier notions to make things simpler for himself): '... nette meant 'girl approaching the adult' (in her 'teens': the growth of Elvish children after birth was little if at all slower than that of the children of Men). The Common Eldarin stem (wen-ed) wendé 'maiden' applied to all stages up to the fully adult (until marriage).'

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Near New Haven

    Re: Peak Elvish Populations During The First Age

    Man, two daze ago, I posted this long reply based on the 'ten thousand spears', which I think is a much better point of reference as it is the only other real population estimate we have, without so many 'variables' built in...

    The damned thing got hung up & crashed.
    'Taste and see that the Lord is good'

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