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Of The Beginning Of Days

Snaga

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In the Sil it says (of Iluvatar)

Therefore he willed that the hearts of Men should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein; but they should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else; and of their operation everything should be, in form and deed, completed, and the world fulfilled unto the last and smallest.

But Iluvatar knew that Men, being set amidst the turmoils of the powers of the world, would stray often, and would not use their gifts in harmony; and he said: 'These too shall find in their time that all that they do redounds at the end only to the glory of my work.' Yet the elves believe that Men are often a grief to Manwe,who knows most of the mind of Iluvatar; for it seems to the Elves that Men most closely resemble Melkor of all the Ainur, although he has ever feared and hated them, even those that served him.
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I think this is an incredibly interesting passage. I'll come back and post my views on what is being said, but I'd rather not lead the witness. Loremasters and sages of our wonderful forum, what canst thou sayeth on this matter?
 

Grond

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With the exception of the rebellion of Feanor, the Eldar and most other Elves have behaved in a manner consistent with the "will of Iluvator". They understand the process and I have never seen a reference to an Elf being in the employ of Melkor or Sauron or anyone of Evil. There may be some exceptions with the dark elves and Maeglin in particular. But, other than these two examples, I find that the Elves in general act in a way consistent with the master plan.

As for man, he is his own enigma. He acts for the cause of good one day and the cause of evil another and yet on another day thinks he's acting for good and yet acts for evil albeit unwillingly. In other words, Man is a "pain in the heavenly butt."
 

Moonbeams

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When he said that Men and Elves most resemble Melkor, I don't think he was thinking only of evil that the can do, but also of their rebelius nature. Both Elves and Men try to change things to their benefit, as Melkor tried, they will not settle for things they don't like, they have an adventurous spirit, they will go to any lenght to get what's their hearts desire, and those are not bad traits on their own. Only when they think of doing evil are they bad. Although Melkor was always the evil one, he was the one who had the courage to stand up against all others, had the strenght to oppose Iluvatar himself, had the strainght to stand alone and fight for what he thought. The fact that he always thought only evil, well... but you have to admire his spirit. And that's something Men and Elves have incomon with Melkor.
 

Grond

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Originally posted by V of K
"... for it seems to the Elves that Men most closely resemble Melkor of all the Ainur, although he has ever feared and hated them, even those that served him..."
You need to reread the post Moonbeams, I think you misunderstood it. The quote states that the Elves thought man most resembled Melkor. The reason for this is that they were so easily turned to evil.
 

Snaga

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I read this as...

Elves are locked into the music aka Fate, but Men are not... they have free will

Because they have free will, they resemble Melkor, because Melkor equally played his own tune, not the own that Iluvatar wanted. But also because they do bad as well as good

But is it saying, but in the end its all Iluvatars will anyway? If so what's Manwe grieving about?

But then what is Fate anyway, once Melkor's messed up the music?
 
C

Curufinwe

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Did Eru know all? from beginning to end? If so he would of expected Feanor and all those people to do the stuff that they did and in that manner it would have meant that Eru had the master plan made. Do the people on Middle earth have free will or are they destined by Eru? This does apply to the Valar aswell no doubt. Eru is all controlling.
 

Gwaihir

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I believe it wouold be more correct to say "Eru is all creating". The Ainur, elves and Men are all givine the gift of the "Flame Imperishable", which confers some measure of free will. Eru may well be all knowing and seeing, but not really so "controlling".

This is not my original idea, of course, I'm interpretting Tolkien's words. I'll need some time this evening to find the relevant quotes from the Letters. There is a quote in there that not even Eru would seek to dominate one of the "children" by force.
 

Grond

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Originally posted by Variag of Khand
...If so what's Manwe grieving about?

But then what is Fate anyway, once Melkor's messed up the music?
The Sil clearly states that everytime Melkor began a discord, Eru would start a new theme. I'm going to go back to see if each theme had a specific purpose, but I think the indication is that ERU would not be swayed in creating HIS musical theme of Middle-earth. That is why I so firmly believe that He knew Melkor's mind from the beginning and knew the grief that would be necessary to prove the patience of the Elves and to test the spirit of Man.

As far as Manwe grieving? Manwe is not Eru. He doesn't know the master plan. All he sees of the future is what Erui chooses to reveal to him. He watches the wanton destruction of things he and the other Vala hold dear. He sees the corruption of Man and the division of Middle-earth into separate camps. He doesn't necessarily know the why, how, when or what, so he grieves for the damages being done, which all ultimately lead back to Melkor.

I keep coming back to my argument that if Eru had wanted a perfect world, he would simply have created Aman and destroyed Melkor as soon as he showed his true colors. Nothing else makes sense to me. And for those who disagree, I respect your opinion, which is why I said "makes sense to me." I do see how one could easily take the "Free Will Scenario" but my own belief in the All-knowing, Master-planning Eru, precludes free will from being a valid premise.:)
 

Snaga

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I think it is hard to avoid applying concepts from real world religions in order to interpret what is said in the Sil, because it is easier to grapple with existing concepts and apply those, than it is to seek to elucidate meaning from words on a page. Everyone is prone to fall into that trap, the more so if you hold beliefs strongly yourself, perhaps.

I want to post here a summary of what I think is in the Sil, because it may help to clarify what is in the text and what readers may be bringing to it themselves.

Ainulindae

Eru/Iluvatar creates Melkor, and creates him with the greatest gifts of power and knowledge. Other Valar have a particular province, but he knows a bit about everything. Melkor travels around and sees the Void becomes impatient because its empty. He imagines what could be created, but only Eru has the Imperishable Flame. So he weaves these ideas in the Music, and the music becomes discordant.

Eru smiles and starts a new theme. But Melkor's discord contests it and wins.

Eru is stern, and starts another theme. This is quiet and unquenchable. It does not stop Melkors discord, but takes its most triumphant notes for its own.

Eru is terrible to behold and stops the music, and says - now you'll see what you've created. And Melkor you will find that everything you've created comes from me, and only serves to bring into being things more wonderful than you could imagine. And these things that you thought were seperate are just part of a whole. And they see that they have created a world that the Children of Iluvatar (Elves and Men) will live in.

The third theme, which the Valar don't have any part is where Elves and Men are created.

**********

I think this is quite mysterious in lots of ways. Eru and Melkor are in contest, but Eru says everything you do comes from me anyway. With some justification because he created Melkor, and so knows his nature. So why is he angry? And why does he smile first and then get angry? This reminded me of a parent with a child - first time a child does something wrong the parent smiles, teaches and puts right. The second time the parent may well be angry and punish.

And the description of the third theme in which Elves and Men. If Melkors' discord = evil, then evil doesn't win absolutely, but if it gets close good comes out of it. And good does not seek to dominate over evil - rather it is unquenchable. Much of Silmarillion is how pride and strength fail to avail the Noldor...
 

Walter

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Sorry to be not on topic - once again - but I felt I had to mention it anyway: Ain't it funny how we so often end up discussing the "underlying philosophy" or the "core religion" or "the myth in Tolkien's myth" here? The "Melkor, evil by will.." or the "Finding god ..." thread as well as quite a few other threads which I cannot remember the names of - they all circle basically round the same issue...

Maybe we could collect these threads and publish them - in analogy to B.Russels "A History of Western Philosophy" - as something like "A History of the Philosophy in Tolkien's Middle-Earth"? ;)
 

Gwaihir

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Walter, an interesting idea...

There really are two parallel but separate lines of thought that could be covered. One relates strickly to uncovering Tolkien's intent, and his own personal pholisophy on these matters. There are a variety of sources available and many clues, some subtle and many others less so.

The other, equally interesting line questioning concerns the "underlying philosophy" of this mythology as percieved by readers. No matter how much we might respect the author and admire his work, we are not he and cannot see these tales entirely in his eyes. Each reader has to explore the meaning of the work for him or herself, and some elements might resonate better than others or open different doors. Some of these impacts are certainly unintentional on the authors part, but cannot be avoided. I also think there are meanings in the work that Tolkien put there, but he never fully grasped or recognized himself.

It is this sort of inquiry that keeps me personally involved with books I read thoroughly many years ago. I hope to be able to comment more fully on the excellent posts above but time is short today (the primary world has this way of intruding...) so that will have to wait for the weekend.
 

Tyaronumen

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Originally posted by Grond
I keep coming back to my argument that if Eru had wanted a perfect world, he would simply have created Aman and destroyed Melkor as soon as he showed his true colors. Nothing else makes sense to me. And for those who disagree, I respect your opinion, which is why I said "makes sense to me." I do see how one could easily take the "Free Will Scenario" but my own belief in the All-knowing, Master-planning Eru, precludes free will from being a valid premise.:)
Most definitely, senor! And I think that Eru understood that great beauty may lose it's context without ugliness; that without the bitter tears of sorrow, joy is less sweet.

EDIT: In other words: "I will not say: do not weep! For not all tears are an evil."

:)
 

Snaga

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Would Gandalf counter that by saying: "he who breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom" (words to Saruman when captured at Orthanc - not exact). Do you need to mar beauty to understand how beautiful something is?

Grond posts:

I do see how one could easily take the "Free Will Scenario" but my own belief in the All-knowing, Master-planning Eru, precludes free will from being a valid premise.
I am glad you say this is your own belief. I don't know where you get that Eru is either All-knowing, or Master-planning. Although Master-plans can be many things, and not necessarily an account of every twist of every story. My interpretation is that Eru gives the themes, but the Valar create the Music according to those themes. Does that not sound as though he is actually not quite the control-freak you are describing?
 

Snaga

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Walter says:

Ain't it funny how we so often end up discussing the "underlying philosophy" or the "core religion" or "the myth in Tolkien's myth" here? The "Melkor, evil by will.." or the "Finding god ..." thread as well as quite a few other threads which I cannot remember the names of - they all circle basically round the same issue...
We do discuss lots of other things too you know!:) Some of these debates keep going round and round because there is no clear right answer (though you wouldn't know it from some of the posts!).

In this thread I'd like to discuss 'what do the works of Tolkien actually say about God/divinity/mortality/free will/fate/blah blah blah in Tolkien's world' rather than 'what do you believe about said topics in the real world'. I.E. Its off the point of this thread to go into the applicability of Tolkien's ideas to the real world, because it doesn't tell you what is in his fiction.

I'd much prefer it that way since this is a Tolkien forum, and a love of JRRT and his works is what unites us. Once we stray away from that we don't seem half as nice to each other! So far we're doing fine!!!:D But every thread has a life of its own, and just because that's what interests me, it doesn't necessarily mean the thread will pan out that way!;)

PS Best of luck editting all those threads. Rather you than me!
 

Grond

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Originally posted by Variag of Khand
...I am glad you say this is your own belief. I don't know where you get that Eru is either All-knowing, or Master-planning. Although Master-plans can be many things, and not necessarily an account of every twist of every story. My interpretation is that Eru gives the themes, but the Valar create the Music according to those themes. Does that not sound as though he is actually not quite the control-freak you are describing?
The Music of the Ainur is nothing more than the Master Plan you seem to deny exists. It is apparent that no matter what Melkor did, Eru had already prepared the apporpriate counter-action to Melkor's discord. What Eru planned could not be undone or changed by Melkor. The very quote you cited is further evidence of the "Master Plan" you deny.
originally posted by V of K
And Melkor you will find that everything you've created comes from me, and only serves to bring into being things more wonderful than you could imagine. And these things that you thought were seperate are just part of a whole. And they see that they have created a world that the Children of Iluvatar (Elves and Men) will live in.
What is more clear than this?:confused:
 

Snaga

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But if the Music is the master plan, then it is not created by Eru, its created by the Ainur. He gives them the theme, but not every last note.

Hence he can be glad at first when their Music is pleasing. Then he smiles (tolerantly? - that's my suggestion though) at Melkor's first attempt to inject his own thoughts into it, but creates another theme to counteract it.

Now if he was expecting Melkor's discord, why does Melkor's discord defeat his attempt to counteract it? And why does Eru get angry? If its all part of his plan, I don't see why he is so upset by it!

When they've finished the music Eru shows them the vision and says 'you see, its still my creation Melkor, you can't spoil the groove DJ' but then the Valar have to go and labour to create the vision on Ea. But whilst most of them are good boys and girls, Melkor tries to destroy their work. IE even if the music is a masterplan (I'd prefer game-plan), Melkor tries to wreck it.

BTW I'm not saying I think this is totally straightforward I don't. I think it is quite contradictory, probably in a classically mythological way.
 

Flame of Utumno

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Variag, I also think this is a very important quote because it is one of the few passages in the Silmarillion that comes closest to explaining the purpose and destiny of men.

What I find most interesting is the comparison with Melkor, and the fact that men most resemble him of the valar. If you read closely, it is really only the opinion of the Elves and Manwe that men are more similar to Melkor.
I think that its the total lack of conformity to the overall fate of the world that probably irritates Manwe and the other beings that are bound to the world.

The final destiny of the souls of men is an enigma that the geat powers cannot reconcile.
 

Snaga

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Yes neither the Valar or the Elves seem to understand humans very well. Silmarillion is deliberately not humano-centric (is that a word:confused: ) and so it really doesn't have much about their purpose/fate whatever. And they appear to be an enigma.

It strikes me that one of the strange things about the actions of the Valar is that they are so eager to meet the Eldar and rush into ME to find them and guide them across the West, but by contrast they show no such appetite with the Atani. Even when it appears that Morgoth is doing his best to corrupt them, the Valar make no attempt to make themselves known. They seem to let Morgoth have it his own way.

Strange:confused:
 

Brent

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Originally posted by Variag of Khand
In the Sil it says (of Iluvatar)

.

I think this is an incredibly interesting passage. I'll come back and post my views on what is being said, but I'd rather not lead the witness. Loremasters and sages of our wonderful forum, what canst thou sayeth on this matter?
Men are very much the creatures of Eru. The Ainur are of his mind but stem only from a particular paradigm. They are limited by the paradigm from which they spring - even Manwe AND Melkor, though Melkor flows from a particularly powerful paradigm within Eru and Eru oviously knows this (I agree with Grond here). He knows Melkor but Melkor can NEVER know him.

Now also consider that the Ainur who went into the world are imprisoned there, bound to it, so are the Elves, so is Melkor for all his power.
Men are not, they come, make whatever path they will and leave. A Gift that even the Powers will envy.
They are the microcosm of Eru, theirs is the ultimate freedom, weakened considerably because they do not know themselves as Eru knows himself. Doesn't it say elsewhere in Tolkiens writings that its the Fire Imperishable - that Melkor sought but found not - that ages men so quickly. The flame that Olorin is a servant of.

Its a theme found in almost all religions and myth systems
Macrocosm Microcosm, as above so below
that man is capable of a state of union with his maker - Nirvana, enlightenment, finding god, becoming one with the cosmos etc etc etc etc.
Impossible for an Elf bound to the destiny and fate of the world, or a an Ainur who is but a paradigm of thought.
 

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