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Biological Unity in Middle Earth

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Harad

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What's all this I hear about Elves and Men, Elves and Maia, Orcs and Men having children? Not only did they have children, but the children were themselves fertile.

Doesnt that mean they were all fundamentally the same being?
 

Tar-Palantir

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I guess you'd say that they were all "humanoid" (to borrow a term from Star Trek), but different species. Except for the Maia, who evidently could make themselves human if they wanted.
 
H

Harad

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In "real" biology different species can not interbreed with fertile offspring. That makes all of the above the same species, almost by definition. The loophole is that JRRT's universe does not follow the same rules (of course).
 

Anarchist

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In Tolkien's world, the children of Elves with Maia and of elves with men etc. could make offsprings. Well maybe this was one of the plans of Iluvatar. Neither have I heard about orcs with human having children. That's strange.
 
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H

Harad

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these half-orcs and goblin-men that the foul craft of Saruman has bred, they will not quail at the sun,
Its pretty well established.

But why shouldnt Orcs--corrupted from Elves--be able to breed with Men, since Elves can. Its all one big dyfunctional family.
 

Bill the Pony

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Letter #153
Elves and Men are evidently in biological terms one race, or they could not breed and produce fertile offspring – even as a rare event : there are 2 cases only in my legends of such unions, and they are merged in the descendants of Eärendil.1 But since some have held that the rate of longevity is a biological characteristic, within limits of variation, you could not have Elves in a sense 'immortal' – not eternal, but not dying by 'old age' — and Men mortal, more or less as they now seem to be in the Primary World – and yet sufficiently akin. I might answer that this 'biology' is only a theory, that modern 'gerontology', or whatever they call it, finds 'ageing' rather more mysterious, and less clearly inevitable in bodies of human structure. But I should actually answer: I do not care. This is a biological dictum in my imaginary world. It is only (as yet) an incompletely imagined world, a rudimentary 'secondary'; but if it pleased the Creator to give it (in a corrected form) Reality on any plane, then you would just have to enter it and begin studying its different biology, that is all
 
H

Harad

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Elves (and thus Orcs) and Men (and hobbits) are one race, according to the "letter" quoted by BtP.

The union of a Maia and Elf, Melian and Thingol, is also described. And their line survived.

This idea that men and gods are biologically compatible is also seen in other traditions, such as Greek mythology where Gods, especially Zeus, often descended upon humankind (womankind) in various forms,

Zeus fell in love with a beautiful Greek woman named Alcmene. When Alcmene's husband, Amphitryon, was away, Zeus made her pregnant. This made Hera so angry that she tried to prevent the baby from being born. When Alcmene gave birth to the baby anyway, she named him Herakles. (The Romans pronounced the name "Hercules," and so do we today.) The name Herakles means "glorious gift of Hera" in Greek, and that got Hera angrier still. Then she tried to kill the baby by sending snakes into his crib. But little Hercules was one strong baby, and he strangled the snakes, one in each hand, before they could bite him.
This is no doubt part of the idea that Man was made in God's image.
 

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