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Númenórean long lifespan - A mistake?

gate7ole

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We read from Myths Tranformed (passage XI):
But let us suppose that the 'blessing of Aman' was also accorded to Men. What then? Would a great good be done to them? Their bodies would still come swiftly to full growth. In the seventh part of a year a Man could be born and become full-grown, as swiftly as in Aman a bird would hatch and fly from the nest. But then it would not wither or age but would endure in vigour and in the delight of bodily living. But what of that Man's fëa? Its nature and 'doom' could not be changed, neither by the health of Aman nor by the will of Manwë himself. Yet it is (as the Eldar hold) its nature and doom under the will of Eru that it should not endure Arda for long, but should depart and go elsewhither, returning maybe direct to Eru for another fate or purpose that is beyond the knowledge or guess of the Eldar.
Very soon then the fëa and hröa of a Man in Aman would not be united and at peace, but would be opposed, to the great pain of both. The hröa being in full vigour and joy of life would cling to the fëa, lest its departure should bring death; and against death it would revolt as would a great beast in full life either flee from the hunter or turn savagely upon him. But the fëa would be as it were in prison, becoming ever more weary of all the delights of the hröa, until they were loathsome to it, longing ever more and more to be gone, until even those matters for its thought that it received through the hröa and its senses became meaningless. The Man would not be blessed, but accursed; and he would curse the Valar and Aman and all the things of Arda.
Especially the second paragraph refers to the effects of long-livety of Men. The natural question that rises is whether that happened to the long-lived Númenóreans. They were given even 400 years of life. Is this time long enough for the fëa to become tired of life? Did the hroa drag the fëa too long and imprison it in Valinor? Maybe this was the source of the unrest of the Númenóreans, who wanted to live forever. The hroa prevailed over the fëa.
If this is correct, then wasn’t it wrong to give to the Númenóreans such a long span-life? I’m not sure if it was an action from the Valar or Eru himself, but if it was the Valar’s choice, maybe they erred at this point and should never give to the mortals such life span that the fëa wasn’t able to endure.
Opinions?
 

Ithrynluin

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Is this time long enough for the fëa to become tired of life? Did the hroa drag the fëa too long and imprison it in Valinor?
I don't think this was a mistake on the part of the Valar (or whoever it was that granted them such a long life span, possible Eru himself) to prolong their lives. There were those Men who lived long and were content with their lives - look at Elros who lived to be 510 years old and gave up his life 'when the time came' - this weariness' was somehow felt, and it was up to every single individual to make a choice:

  1. Either relinquish life willingly, and die still in vigour of body and mind
  2. Or refuse to give it up and come into a decrepit and dishonourable state, and die in pain and bitterness
    [/list=1]

    The second was a sign of the marring and malcontent brought about by Sauron who poisoned the minds of the Numenoreans - or at least those who would hearken to his whisperings (and they were numerous).
 

gate7ole

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What if it was not Sauron that poisoned their minds, but it was Arda Marred caused by Morgoth, that finally came to Numenor again? Because the way I see it, it was not the mind that made the Numenoreans feel unrest, it was their body- the body that suffered the marring of Morgoth.
You spoke of Elros and the first line of Numenorean kings that gave their life freely. Maybe (I'm not sure at all if what I say sounds at all correct) the elvish strain was too powerful in Elros and the first descendants - which probably made their fea (though mortal) more powerul (and we know that the Elves could control their hroa better). Of course, we can't deny that the first kings seemed more wise and probably they understood their gift from Iluvatar.
But reading the passage that I quoted before, it seems that prolonging life does not have good effect on mortals, which is very much like the Numenorean case (at least of the later kings).
 

Ithrynluin

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What if it was not Sauron that poisoned their minds, but it was Arda Marred caused by Morgoth
I thought about this too. Was Numenor part of Arda Marred? It was raised out of the Great Sea. Now we know that Morgoth poured his malice and his very being into all the continents of Arda (save Aman), but did he have power over the ocean floor? I would think not (?). But perhaps there was a Melkor element even in the air they breathed, and even though he was confined to the Void he could perhaps still put subtle whispers of evil and malcontent into their ears.

Maybe the elvish strain was too powerful in Elros and the first descendants - which probably made their fea (though mortal) more powerul
An interesting theory. Indeed it may have been a strong Elvish strain that made the first Kings of Numenor more patient, wise and content with their fate. But as the Elvish strain became diluted, so the life-span shortened...

But reading the passage that I quoted before, it seems that prolonging life does not have good effect on mortals, which is very much like the Numenorean case (at least of the later kings).
Granting the Numenoreans long life was a reward from Eru. If you do good, you shall be rewarded for your deeds. The Men that fought on Melkor's side during the First Age (and later on Sauron's side) were not allowed passage to Numenor, but continued living in the twilight of Middle Earth, their judgement and wisdom clouded by the lies that have been sown into their races by Melkor and Sauron. The Men of the three races were accordingly rewarded with a new home far from the troubles of Middle Earth.
 

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I think the lifespan was lengthend by the removal of men to a less marred land, causing the hroar of men to last longer, but having less effect on their fear. I'd guess Numenor's level of marring was in between that of Aman and Middle-earth, but Numenor can not have been entirely unmarred, because in it were people made of the fabric of Arda Marred. Though it must have been more marred than Aman, otherwise it would be the exact same as Aman in effect on men, would it not?

Had the life span been increased by the only other means I can think of: that is by giving men more control over their hroar with their fear, then this malcontent probably not have happend.

I think it could be a mistake if viewed a certain way. One could say that the Valar might have guessed long life would have this effect on men (see quotes below).
In this light the Valar might have been mistaken. But I am inclined to say that they may not have been, because much good ended up coming of Numenoreans anyhow. The remants of them later mingling in Middle-earth, and taking with them not only a longer life span but wisdom and knowledge of the Valar and Eldar. If this was done under Iluvatar's will then was Manwe mistaken? Look around at all the other times bad things came of the Valar's action or inaction. Maybe the Noldor should have never been brought to Aman? Yet, much good came of it anyhow, though we can be sure what would have happend had they not.


From Letter 131, also found in preface of the Second edition of The Silmarillion.

Reward on earth is more dangerous to men than Punishment!
and...
Their reward is their undoing - or the means of their temptation. Their long life aids their achievements in art and wisdom, but breeds a possessive attitude to these things, and desire awakes for more time for thier enjoyment. Forseeing this in part, the gods laid a Ban on the Numenoreans....
and..
The Downfall is partly the result of an inner weakness in Men - consequent, if you will, upon the first Fall (unrecorded in these tales), repented but not fully healed.
I believe this first fall did something to the fear of men which caused them to be unable to deal with the amount of time granted to their hroar in Numenor.

another from that letter:
In the second stage, the days of Pride and Glory and grudging of the Ban, they begin to seek wealth rather than bliss.
It could also be the result of the first fall of men that they would seek wealth rather than bliss. Wealth is really just power. Now maybe they wanted this power so they might prolong their life or even so they might be ready to fight with the Valar if it came to it. But most likely, I think, they sought wealth because it was all they could seek while experiencing the malcontent... simply gluttony. Then they also placed much wealth in tombs. As if to surround the dead in the things of life. I think this when viewed with their fear of death shows just how vital wealth had become to them in their eyes.

I think the first fall of men and Arda Marred effected the hroar and fear of men, and that the very nature of men was changed. This removal to a less marred land could undo some of the intial marring but not change the nature of men as they came to be with the first fall. So I think men were maybe lessend in body and spirit, and then later on when strengthend in body, the spirit couldn't handle it. If this is the case and the Valar knew it beyond a doubt, then it would seem a mistake. Though, maybe the Valar were ignorant of this.

But as the quote above shows, men had repented the first fall, though they were not healed. Should they not have had a chance after they repented? It could be that the Valar, or some of them guessed what the effect of this longer life would be on men, but gave the benefit of the doubt. Is it better to deprive the worthy or reward the unworthy? Yet, in this case if they were unworthy.. it would be the death of them, a punishment ultimately and not a reward. So, what really was the risk in trying?

But then the question becomes: were men really unworthy if they had truly repented? Unworthy of Numenor maybe, but unworthy enough to be punished as they were? I do not think so. But as I said above, much good spread through the race of men because of Numenor... so the race on the whole punished or rewarded? If the race on the whole is rewarded... where is the mistake?
 

gate7ole

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Originally posted by Nóm
I think it could be a mistake if viewed a certain way. One could say that the Valar might have guessed long life would have this effect on men (see quotes below).
In this light the Valar might have been mistaken. But I am inclined to say that they may not have been, because much good ended up coming of Numenoreans anyhow. The remants of them later mingling in Middle-earth, and taking with them not only a longer life span but wisdom and knowledge of the Valar and Eldar. If this was done under Iluvatar's will then was Manwe mistaken? Look around at all the other times bad things came of the Valar's action or inaction. Maybe the Noldor should have never been brought to Aman? Yet, much good came of it anyhow, though we can be sure what would have happend had they not.
Yes, much good was caused by the Numenoreans, but I don't think this is the way the Valar did (or should) think. I have the opinion that the downfall of Numenor was one of the few direct interventions of Eru and was not fortold in the Vision. Besides, the Atani were not limited by the Vision, but could change their lives hoever they wanted. So, my guess is that the Valar had no idea that Numenor would fall.
Of course, even if it hadn't fallen, the Numenoreans would bring much wisdom to the coasts (during their famous voyages). But is this the correct way of thinking? Shouldn't the Valar at least be able to understand that the prolonging of the life of Men would eventually cause the catastrophe? They could still give to the Numenoreans much wisdom without giving them 4 times longer life span (e.g. to pass wisdom to them through the Elves of Tol Eressea - which they actually did)

This removal to a less marred land could undo some of the intial marring but not change the nature of men as they came to be with the first fall. So I think men were maybe lessend in body and spirit, and then later on when strengthend in body, the spirit couldn't handle it.
I don't think that they were lessened in spirit at the first fall. I think that only the hroa was diminished, since Morgoth had only powers over the hroa (the fea coming directly from Eru). We read in various places (Myths Transformed, Osanwe Kenta - I think) that Morgoth could only cause fear to his slaves, by the torment of hroa (such as the threatening of death).
Also, in Athradeth, Finrod doubts whether Morgoth could change the nature of a whole race. The hroa, yes he could change, since he poured his powers on all Middle Earth. And all humans born carried his marring. But the fea? Could he alter the fea of a whole race (and make it an inheritable characteristic), so that the fea would become less strong and endurable? Firnod says no, and I have to agree with him.

But then the question becomes: were men really unworthy if they had truly repented? Unworthy of Numenor maybe, but unworthy enough to be punished as they were? I do not think so. But as I said above, much good spread through the race of men because of Numenor... so the race on the whole punished or rewarded? If the race on the whole is rewarded... where is the mistake?
I agree that none should be judged by the actions of the past. A new chance should be given. I don't say that they should be left in Middle Earth. But I disagree with the reward of long life span (or better, I don't disagree, I seek if it was correct).
You give another solution:
Had the life span been increased by the only other means I can think of: that is by giving men more control over their hroar with their fear, then this malcontent probably not have happend.
But is it possible? To give to men more control over the hroa? Doesn't it mean that they come closer to become "elvish"? Isn't is a slight alternation of their nature?
So, since they could not get more control ober the hroa and their hroa would imprison the fea after many years, I can't find any way of keeping this gift to the Numenoreans, but without its side-effects.
 

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On your first point:

I agree that just because something good came of it anyhow, does not make the Valar right in having done it. But, since Manwe is working under Iluvatar, there is a chance this was the will of Iluvatar. That aside, it could not seem like anything other than a mistake, to me.

Second point:

I agree with Finrod too.
I do not think Melkor changed the fear of men, if anyone did it was Iluvatar.

Perhaps I was not clear enough, but when I put 'the fall of men' and 'Arda Marred' together as the causes of 'the lessening of the hroar and fear of men' I ment that Arda Marred would lessen the hroa and that the lessening of the fea would be the fall.

gate7ole
Had the life span been increased by the only other means I can think of: that is by giving men more control over their hroar with their fear, then this malcontent probably not have happend.

But is it possible? To give to men more control over the hroa? Doesn't it mean that they come closer to become "elvish"? Isn't is a slight alternation of their nature?
I would say it was not possible for the Valar to do this, only Eru.

I can't find any way of keeping this gift to the Numenoreans, but without its side-effects.
If you believe Eru changed the nature of men in any way during the first fall, then him resoring that orginal nature would be the only way I can imagine.

Doesn't it mean that they come closer to become "elvish"? Isn't is a slight alternation of their nature?
Alteration - yes it would be. More elvish? I guess you could say that.
And is not the ability to die of one own's freewill a part of the fea's control over the hroa? I imagine men would have this ability if not for the fall. That they would have more control over the hroa with the fea, but would weary and give up life before they could live long enough for the power over the hroa with the fear to increase to the masterful point it does with elves.
 

Eriol

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Very interesting topic. Let me give you a few bits of information about Catholic doctrine on immortality. Why? Because I think that Tolkien spent most of his later philosophical musings trying to "adapt" his legends to Catholicism. (I got that impression from some letters, I think -- I can't quite put my finger of it. Perhaps I'm dreaming). And one of the thorniest problems in this adaptation is this mortality/immortality conundrum.

According to Catholicism, Man is not naturally mortal. Death was a result of the Fall, a result of Man's disobedience and refusal of God. (Andreth would like to hear that :D). And death will be vanquished after the Resurrection (which would be Arda Restored), never to be seen again.

Also, according to Catholicism, man is both body and soul. This means that the soul MUST have a body to be in the natural state -- disembodied souls are "unnatural", and this is a source of unhappiness for the soul. There is no fight between soul and body before the Fall; and even after the Fall, the soul's natural state is with a body.

I think the Athrabeth is heavily influenced by these two Catholic doctrines.

Now. Even if Tolkien wanted to make his legend coherent with Catholic doctrine, it does not mean that Catholic doctrine can shed any light on the legends themselves. And this topic is a case in point, as I see it. For if Catholicism were accepted as true in Tolkien's world, it would mean that the longevity of Numenoreans is closer to the natural state of mankind. Clearly Tolkien did not intend that, as the quotes by Nóm show. In his mind, the "gift" of the Numenoreans was the reason for their second Fall ("reward is more dangerous than punishment").

So how do we look at the question gate7ole proposed then?

I think that the most important point in man's spiritual constitution in Arda is that their fëar do not belong in Arda. This would be so even if there had been no Marring. The fight between hröa and fëa that is the result of the Marring (or at least of the First Fall of men) is not the reason behind this incompability of men's fëar and Arda. It aggravates it; it makes the life of men more miserable and painful; but even in Arda Unmarred, men would die*.

Men die naturally; their hröa and fëa, however, are not "natural enemies" -- they have become enemies as a result of the Fall.

Given these two facts, what is the bearing of the specific gift of longevity (considered apart from wisdom, a nice island, etc.)? What is the result of the greater span? Quite obviously, unless the enmity between hröa and fëa is amended, the result is a longer "warfare". But this would mean a quicker tiring of life, wouldn't it? This is exactly what did not happen. The Numenoreans were enamored of long life -- not tired of it. So I don't think we can ascribe their Second Fall to an enmity between hröa and fëa.

But let us look now at the evolution of the Numenorean "shadow". As the years went by, their lifespans became shorter, and they began to die "unwillingly", clinging to their lives. This is indicative that the fëa has grown enamored of Arda, which is NOT the natural state. And this, I think, is the major deleterious effect of the increased lifespan. The fëa was DESIGNED to abandon Arda after a while -- by staying on for longer, it became more engrossed with it. So in the end I don't think that it had anything to do with their hröar; I think that the second Fall was the result of "too much bliss", longevity PLUS all the other gifts. In other words, if all Numenoreans lived like Aragorn (from danger to danger) they would not grow as enamored as they did.

And this would mean that the error of the Valar, if there was any, was magnified by their throwing in wisdom, a nice island, etc. in the gift package.




*if we accept the Elvish legendarium as true, which is a thorny issue. I've read the Athrabeth closely to check on this matter. It is quite likely that Tolkien intended it to mean precisely that -- that the Elvish legends of Man's innate mortality are wrong, and that the lore of Andreth is the true story -- therefore making it compatible with Catholicism. The allusion to Eru "entering Arda" is quite telling.
 

Ithrynluin

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by Nóm
Though it must have been more marred than Aman, otherwise it would be the exact same as Aman in effect on men, would it not?
So is the level of taintedness the only thing that makes Aman different from Middle Earth? I would think there's more to it - the very presence of the Ainur dwelling there...

by Nóm
I think the first fall of men and Arda Marred effected the hroar and fear of men, and that the very nature of men was changed.
Who exactly was responsible for lengthening the life-span of the Numenoreans? I would assume it was Iluvatar, that he was the only one who could change the very nature of the children, and not even the Valar could do that. But then we have the first fall of Man, of which we only hear distand rumours in the Athrabeth (HoME X). Clearly Melkor was the one who caused this fall - but how can he have altered this?

by gate7ole
Shouldn't the Valar at least be able to understand that the prolonging of the life of Men would eventually cause the catastrophe? They could still give to the Numenoreans much wisdom without giving them 4 times longer life span (e.g. to pass wisdom to them through the Elves of Tol Eressea - which they actually did)
But was there time to accumulate all this knowledge and wisdom in the ordinary life-span of Men (cca 100 years)?

by gate7ole
I don't think that they were lessened in spirit at the first fall. I think that only the hroa was diminished, since Morgoth had only powers over the hroa (the fea coming directly from Eru). We read in various places (Myths Transformed, Osanwe Kenta - I think) that Morgoth could only cause fear to his slaves, by the torment of hroa (such as the threatening of death).
Yes, I think I read this too - In Myths Transformed. So what did Morgoth do to their hroa? Did he shorten its life span? How long were Men supposed to live before Melkor's intervention? Maybe as much as the Numenoreans later on - so Eru giving Numenoreans prolonged life could perhaps be viewed as a restoration of their original life-span.
 

gate7ole

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For Nom's last post:
You suggest that Eru lessened the power of the fea of the Atani, because of their first fall? So, in a way, you accept Andreth’ s suggestion that they were actually “punished” by the One, although you point this change in the fea and not the hroa as their tales say.
It is possible, but I have some strong objections against it:
First, it is not according to how Tolkien pictures Eru. He is not a “revenge” god, punishing its creations for their sins. We read:
Silmarillion Ch.1
But Ilúvatar knew that Men, being set amid the turmoils of the powers of the world, would
stray often, and would not use their gifts in harmony; and he said: ''These too in their time shall find
that all that they do redounds at the end only to the glory of my work.'
Ilúvatar knows that Men will stray often. Actually, he[/]I made them like this, being independent of the Music. This quote doesn’t sound that he would punish them, but that from their sins, new unforeseen better things would arise (e.g. Numenorean realms in Exile).

Second, this lessening of the fea of Men would mean a change in the nature of the race, inherited through the ages. We don’t doubt that only Eru can do it. But would he punish so hard a race because of the sins of the Fathers? Remember that the First Fall comes very early, at the first generation of Men. It would be unjust to punish all the descendants for these sins.
Let’s compare it with the punishment of Númenor. They were utterly destroyed. But the heirs (Elendil) survived and they did not bring along the punishment – it did not touch the later generations (like the change of fea you suggest). It doesn’t sound right, to punish a whole race for their first 60 years of behaviour so severely and punish lighter the Númenóreans, who also had the etaching and guidance of the Elves (and Eönwë).

Because of those two reasons, I don’t find it very possible that Eru would go that far. Of course we can’t know for sure. And the passages of Silmarillion referring to this (like the quote I provided), are two times away from the truth (spoken from Valar to Elves and from Elves to Men). It is not impossible that this “optimistic” view that whatever Men do they “in their time shall find that all that they do redounds at the end only to the glory of my work”, is rather the hope of Men and they that didn’t[/] actually fall from the grace of Ilúvatar.
 

Lhunithiliel

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Gate7ole: If this is correct, then wasn’t it wrong to give to the Númenóreans such a long span-life? I’m not sure if it was an action from the Valar or Eru himself.
I think that was a “gift” from Manwe. I can assume, however, that such an authority must have been granted to him by Eru.

But then a question arises: If Eru had permitted such an act, was it meant to :

A/ just to thank Men for what they did for the Elves? If so, then the belief that Eru loved BOTH his children equally becomes somewhat “shaky”. Don’t you think so? Why would he be so generous at that point and not ever before and not ever after? But on the other hand, when else in the story do we see the direct intervention of Eru to praise or punish the Elves as he did it with Men?
In very plain words… Which of the two races – Elves or Men – as children of the One, was his favourite, taking into consideration what he did and did not for the ones and what – for the others?
Or
B/ was it a method that Eru had chosen to show to Men that immortality is not a gift they should mourn about? Could it be a “lesson” by Eru, taught to Men in order to help them understand the great gift they had received from him? In other words – an opportunity for the fear of Men to “show up” finally its true power and meaning.

Try to descend to the very low, everyday level of the very long life of the Numenoreans. They were normal Men with all their joys and grieves, with all the successes and mistakes they had achieved in their lives, with all the feelings and thoughts but also with all the questions about the universe they lived in, about the ways of the world, about their fate, about the Gods and the Elves…
All these came from the mind. The mind however comes from the fea… And what if the fea had found these answers and wanted to accomplish what was meant for it by its creator?
And what if the fea got tired of being enclosed in the “shell” of the hroa? What if the fea of the first-generation - Numenoreans had reached these heights of its existence? Then it surely must have controlled the bodies.
It seems simple – in one moment the fea decides to do what it was meant for and commanded the mind to let the body die and free it.
From outside, it all may have looked as some very special deed done by the Numenorean himself. But was it so, I wonder?

As for the “misbehaviour” of the Numenorean fear in later times, I here agree with Eriol, although myself being almost ignorant on religious matters and didn’t know too much about the doctrines of Catholocism.
Eriol: As the years went by, their lifespans became shorter, and they began to die "unwillingly", clinging to their lives. This is indicative that the fëa has grown enamored of Arda, which is NOT the natural state. And this, I think, is the major deleterious effect of the increased lifespan. The fëa was DESIGNED to abandon Arda after a while -- by staying on for longer, it became more engrossed with it. So in the end I don't think that it had anything to do with their hröar; I think that the second Fall was the result of "too much bliss", longevity PLUS all the other gifts. In other words, if all Numenoreans lived like Aragorn (from danger to danger) they would not grow as enamored as they did.
Gate7ole: Is this time long enough for the fëa to become tired of life? Did the hroa drag the fëa too long and imprison it in Valinor? Maybe this was the source of the unrest of the Númenóreans, who wanted to live forever. The hroa prevailed over the fëa.
Because the way I see it, it was not the mind that made the Numenoreans feel unrest, it was their body- the body that suffered the marring of Morgoth.
Ah! See……If the body is just a “shell”, what decisions could it have taken? To take a sensible decision a mind is needed and the mind IS a characteristic or a feature of the fea. The way I see it is that it had ever and always been the fea that controlled the life of Men and it was its underestimating or rather its not-understanding that caused all their troubles.
Hence, I too agree that Melkor could not have done much in these matters.
Eriol: but even in Arda Unmarred, men would die*.
(Eriol, I started quoting you as if you were Tolkien himself! ;) :D )

Summarizing all the above (I hope it made sense), I’d say that if there was a mistake to be looked for on behalf of the Valar, then it must have been that they poured too much good and bliss to Men’s lives – thus causing the fear of the later Numenoreans to sort of “forget” its purpose and true predestination.

*******
I would like to add that this is a very good topic and there is much to think about ... or to speculate.. ?

:rolleyes: :confused:
 

gate7ole

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posted by Eriol
But let us look now at the evolution of the Numenorean "shadow". As the years went by, their lifespans became shorter, and they began to die "unwillingly", clinging to their lives. This is indicative that the fëa has grown enamored of Arda, which is NOT the natural state. And this, I think, is the major deleterious effect of the increased lifespan. The fëa was DESIGNED to abandon Arda after a while -- by staying on for longer, it became more engrossed with it. So in the end I don't think that it had anything to do with their hröar; I think that the second Fall was the result of "too much bliss", longevity PLUS all the other gifts. In other words, if all Numenoreans lived like Aragorn (from danger to danger) they would not grow as enamored as they did.
For me it is fundamental to understand that there was no change it the fea of Men. The effects you describe seem to have roots in the fea, but I think that their root is to the prolonging of the life of fea in Arda, which has ultimately to do with the hroa.
But since I reject the change of the fea after the first fall, and since the change in the hroa is not only concerning Men but the whole Arda, it seems to me that I don’t propose any special concequence of the first Fall. My best guess is that the hroa of Men is eventually much more altered than that of the rest Arda. It becomes much more dominant, pressing the fea to seek immortality, so that death would be seen as a punishment and not as a gift.
if we accept the Elvish legendarium as true, which is a thorny issue. I've read the Athrabeth closely to check on this matter. It is quite likely that Tolkien intended it to mean precisely that -- that the Elvish legends of Man's innate mortality are wrong, and that the lore of Andreth is the true story -- therefore making it compatible with Catholicism. The allusion to Eru "entering Arda" is quite telling.
We seem to redefine the writing much different, but in a sense the same. You say that maybe the tales of Elves are wrong and lore of the Men was correct (at least concerning the nature of Men). My suggestion is that Men changed the tales (on purpose or unconsciously) to a more “optimistic” fate (see my previous post). To be honest, I didn’t like the “Christianic” enter of Eru in Arda. Maybe Tolkien had in mind only to give to the Atani “Christian”-like religion, although it may be wrong in the context of Arda, so that to bring them to the current situation of real life.
 

Eriol

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Originally posted by gate7ole
For me it is fundamental to understand that there was no change it the fea of Men. The effects you describe seem to have roots in the fea, but I think that their root is to the prolonging of the life of fea in Arda, which has ultimately to do with the hroa.
But since I reject the change of the fea after the first fall, and since the change in the hroa is not only concerning Men but the whole Arda, it seems to me that I don’t propose any special concequence of the first Fall. My best guess is that the hroa of Men is eventually much more altered than that of the rest Arda. It becomes much more dominant, pressing the fea to seek immortality, so that death would be seen as a punishment and not as a gift.
I agree that there was no change in the fëa of men. What I think happened was that that fëa, which was originally designed to leave Arda after a while, "forgot" this fundamental fact of its nature, due to the many blessings and power of the Numenoreans. This lack of self-knowledge doomed the Numenoreans. It is not Melkor's mischief, but the failings in the Numenoreans themselves who doomed them. Sure, these failings were originally spawned by Melkor's mischief, but it is not "a change in the fëa" -- only a change in the self-knowledge of the fëa.

In other words, they believed in Melkor's lies of immortality -- which of course prepared them for Sauron's lies of immortality. (Assuming the Elvish legends are right!)

We seem to redefine the writing much different, but in a sense the same. You say that maybe the tales of Elves are wrong and lore of the Men was correct (at least concerning the nature of Men). My suggestion is that Men changed the tales (on purpose or unconsciously) to a more “optimistic” fate (see my previous post). To be honest, I didn’t like the “Christianic” enter of Eru in Arda. Maybe Tolkien had in mind only to give to the Atani “Christian”-like religion, although it may be wrong in the context of Arda, so that to bring them to the current situation of real life.
Yes, we have two conflicting accounts of Men's nature here. Which one is correct? From the point of view of readers, informed mostly by Pengolodh & Co., surely the Elves, for they got the information from the direct sources -- the Valar, which in turn got it from Eru himself.

However, there is the word of Tolkien himself claiming that "God is the Lord of angels, men -- and Elves", and that his myth is believable by one who "believes in the Blessed Trinity". I think it was very clear in Tolkien's mind that Eru was God -- the Christian God, the God that he worshipped every sunday. Arda, to him, was our Earth -- that is also clear to me. So that to imagine he gave the Atani a Christian-like hope does not make sense if this hope was a false hope. It only makes sense if it is true -- for Tolkien himself believed it was true.

The "Andreth lore", unbelievable to a Finrod, is more compatible with Tolkien's own ideas about the nature of Eru. This may be seen as a sort of "cheating" -- using Tolkien's personal beliefs to strengthen a position. I don't know.

I just imagine that if I asked Tolkien whether Finrod was right or not at that point, he (Tolkien) would be silent. But in his mind I think he would agree with Andreth.

An interesting thought is that perhaps the blunder of the Valar is a hint showing that Andreth is right (I believe it was a blunder, and my main reason for that is the extreme remedy necessary -- Eru's direct intervention in the world and its laws, the only case recorded). For the Valar thought that Numenoreans would live as "little elves", be nice and happy forever. They thought that Men were resigned to their mortal destiny. But if Andreth is right and death is NOT their destiny, then the Valar can be excused through their own ignorance of men's nature.

An interesting aside is that Eru never said anything about "death". He always used the word "Gift'. Can it be that the Valar misinterpreted him to mean "death"? And the "Gift" of men would be something completely unlike that, like that ability to break fate, or perhaps the Incarnation of Eru himself.

I am just letting my mind roam here. I don't have access to the books right now to check these other two speculations.
 

Walter

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Indeed a very interesting issue, I apologize for being slightly off-topic too.

Originally posted by Eriol
Very interesting topic. Let me give you a few bits of information about Catholic doctrine on immortality. Why? Because I think that Tolkien spent most of his later philosophical musings trying to "adapt" his legends to Catholicism. (I got that impression from some letters, I think -- I can't quite put my finger of it. Perhaps I'm dreaming). And one of the thorniest problems in this adaptation is this mortality/immortality conundrum.
Here I do not agree. IMHO Tolkien rather tried to reconcile his educated intellect with the sometimes strange catholic doctrines.

According to Catholicism, Man is not naturally mortal. Death was a result of the Fall, a result of Man's disobedience and refusal of God. (Andreth would like to hear that :D). And death will be vanquished after the Resurrection (which would be Arda Restored), never to be seen again.
A complex issue, especially since in the Genesis the accounts of P and J significantly contradict each other and only J's account (IIRC) deals with the first fall of Man. And it was the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge that caused the "consilium abeundi" from the garden of Eden for Adam and Eve. They were doomed because they were aiming for "knowledge" - what a strange concept!

Also, according to Catholicism, man is both body and soul. This means that the soul MUST have a body to be in the natural state -- disembodied souls are "unnatural", and this is a source of unhappiness for the soul. There is no fight between soul and body before the Fall; and even after the Fall, the soul's natural state is with a body.

I think the Athrabeth is heavily influenced by these two Catholic doctrines.
Even more of Tolkien's "musings" about the nature of fëar and hröar is told in "Laws and Customs…", though Tolkien seems to have preferred to speculate about the relation between spirit (soul) and body of Elves rather than those of Man (of which we learn considerably less in his tales), maybe because he could do this more freely, without causing too much irritation in his Catholic environment (the Catholic church was - and still is not really partial of intellectual people questioning their doctrines, though the methods of persecution have - slightly - changed since Gallileo Gallilei and the Inquisition)

Now. Even if Tolkien wanted to make his legend coherent with Catholic doctrine, it does not mean that Catholic doctrine can shed any light on the legends themselves. And this topic is a case in point, as I see it. For if Catholicism were accepted as true in Tolkien's world, it would mean that the longevity of Numenoreans is closer to the natural state of mankind. Clearly Tolkien did not intend that, as the quotes by Nóm show. In his mind, the "gift" of the Numenoreans was the reason for their second Fall ("reward is more dangerous than punishment").
Again I disagree, IMO Tolkien purposely kept his sub-creation and his Catholic beliefs strictly separated and I think that is the way he wanted to see it.

So how do we look at the question gate7ole proposed then?
Pretty much all of what we know about hröar and fëar and their relation, we learn in "Laws and Customs.." and the "Athrabeth…", but in most cases what we learn is regarding to elvish hröar and fëar and only little is told about those of men and how they differ from elvish ones. We must be careful not to use the wrong tools for this discussion.

I think we should keep in mind that the Númenor was developed out of Tolkien's interest for the Atlantis-myth (he was even "haunted" in his dreams by it) and the Atlantis-myth ( as well as similar Celtic myths like the Cantre'r Gwaelod he certainly knew) was telling about the Golden Age of a people. Prolonged lifespans - due to whatever reason - are very common in "Golden Ages (even in the Genesis) and usually this lifespan diminishes towards the end of the "Golden Age". IMHO this was the original reason why Tolkien's Númenoreans had this longevity.

Edit: Typos corrected
 
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Walter

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Originally posted by gate7ole
To be honest, I didn�t like the �Christianic� enter of Eru in Arda. Maybe Tolkien had in mind only to give to the Atani �Christian�-like religion, although it may be wrong in the context of Arda, so that to bring them to the current situation of real life.
Me neither, but I don't think Tolkien ever intended to do this, he himself explained very well why he would consider the occurrence of any explicit Christianity (what IMO applies for a "Christian-like" religion as well) in his sub-creation as fatal (c.f. Letters #131 and "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics").

However, there is the word of Tolkien himself claiming that "God is the Lord of angels, men -- and Elves", and that his myth is believable by one who "believes in the Blessed Trinity". I think it was very clear in Tolkien's mind that Eru was God -- the Christian God, the God that he worshipped every sunday. Arda, to him, was our Earth -- that is also clear to me. So that to imagine he gave the Atani a Christian-like hope does not make sense if this hope was a false hope. It only makes sense if it is true -- for Tolkien himself believed it was true.
I can only say that I cordially dislike every attempt of Catholics to be "more catholic than the pope" regarding Tolkien's epos and remarks like this, Eriol, are pure speculation on your side (to which you are of course entitled). Of course Tolkien was Catholic, but he was also - or maybe even more so - linguist and philologist - a scholar. Everyone who has carefully studied what he has to say about the Beowulf-poet will probably realize that what Tolkien was saying about the Beowulf-poet was applicable for every author of such a sub-creation (including himself as an author) and how important a careful separation of the beliefs of the author (probably Christian in case of Beowulf-poet) from that of his sub-creation - a pagan or heathen world - seemed to Tolkien.
 

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Sure it is speculation... just as you are speculating that Tolkien did not want to mix the "somewhat strange Catholic doctrines" with his myth. It is as if you think Tolkien was a "non-believer in the closet".

But my speculation is corroborated by the many instances in which Tolkien referred to his myth as related to our Earth, and to the many instances of true Catholic faith reported in the Letters. I'm sure you know them and do not want me to go digging for them :D. They show that (1) Tolkien was a real believer and (2) that he wanted his myth to "agree" with the real world as closely as possible. "Real world", to a believer, includes the Christian God.

I find it funny that people who do not like Catholicism usually try to ascribe it to a lack of education. So Tolkien was trying to reconcile his "educated intellect" with the "strange Catholic doctrines", is it?

:rolleyes:

Let's get on merrily speculating then :D.

This is one point raised, whether Tolkien was a true Catholic. The other point is whether the Valar did a mistake -- and that question must build upon our theories about the fëar and hröar of men, of which, as Walter said, there is little information. In fact only the Athrabeth deals with it specifically as far as I'm aware (i.e., of men's souls and bodies as distinct from those of Elves). There are some clues in Myths Transformed, and Laws and Customs. Not enough to be certain of anything.
 

Walter

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Originally posted by Eriol
Sure it is speculation... just as you are speculating that Tolkien did not want to mix the "somewhat strange Catholic doctrines" with his myth. It is as if you think Tolkien was a "non-believer in the closet".
No, not a non-believer, but I think that's a rather complex issue that doesn't belong into this thread...

I'm sure you know them and do not want me to go digging for them :D.
I would hope so :D (and had I not read them in the Letters I would still know them all by now, for the Catholics/Christians are rather eager to come up with them on every possible occasion ;))
They show that (1) Tolkien was a real believer
agreed
and (2) that he wanted his myth to "agree" with the real world as closely as possible.
agreed again
"Real world", to a believer, includes the Christian God.
Is that so? Are you sure this applies for Tolkien? And for his sub-creation as well? Did you study Tolkien's lecture I mentioned in my previous post? What do you make of it?

I find it funny that people who do not like Catholicism usually try to ascribe it to a lack of education. So Tolkien was trying to reconcile his "educated intellect" with the "strange Catholic doctrines", is it?

:rolleyes:
Well, yes, that's my take. Or why else would a firm believer like Tolkien come up with a concept of re-incarnation (to name but one issue)? But then again, look at the first line of my signature, I am aware how little it is, that I actually know...

However, what I seem to notice frequently here is, that Catholics try to "kidnap" Tolkien and/or his epos to support Catholicism, something I am not very partial of and - honestly - I don't think Tolkien ever intended that with his sub-creation.

Myth and fairy-story must, as all art, reflect and contain in solution elements of moral and religious truth (or error), but not explicit, not in the known form of the primary 'real' world.

Letters #131
 

Eriol

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Originally posted by Walter
However, what I seem to notice frequently here is, that Catholics try to "kidnap" Tolkien and/or his epos to support Catholicism, something I am not very partial of and - honestly - I don't think Tolkien ever intended that with his sub-creation.
Well then, both of our "partialities" have been exposed, cordially :D What do you think of the question of the thread? Was it a mistake by the Valar? Or an effect of the marring that they had no chance or opportunity to foresee?
 

Walter

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Originally posted by Eriol
Well then, both of our "partialities" have been exposed, cordially :D What do you think of the question of the thread? Was it a mistake by the Valar? Or an effect of the marring that they had no chance or opportunity to foresee?
Actually I'm not sure Tolkien gave much thought to this issue from this point of view. I think that at the time Númenor evolved in Tolkien's mind he was more concerned with his "time-travel-issue" (c.f. HoMe5 & 9) and how that would fit into his mythology as a whole (but I may be way off the mark with that).

As I tried to express in my first post, I believe that the longevity of the Númenoreans was something that was "inherited" from other myths of Golden Ages, in this case the Atlantis myth...
 

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OK, back in topic then :D
I simply cannot just reject Numenor as part of Tolkien's mythology, as something not consistent. It is true that he did not come back to the tale of Numenor after the cosmological changes made at the later stage of his work. I may try to explain scholarly something that Tolkien himself never gave much thought - that's the risk of studying a fictional world. But I will try my best, even though there may be no answer.

Any other views on the matter?
I think that in order to understand whether the Valar did a mistake in giving longer life span, we must first understand what was the First Fall of Men. And then link it to the late passage concerning the "inability" of Men to live in Aman (given in the opening post).
 

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