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Where do Ents go after they die?

Arvedui

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I have yet to read anything on this.
But what place does the Ents have in the legendarium?
This is what Manwë said was Eru's words on the matter of Ents:
Behold! When the Children awake, then the thought of Yavanna will awake also, and it will summon spirits from afar, and they will go among the kelvar and the olvar, and some will dwell therein, and be held in reverence, and their just anger shall be feared. For a time: while the Firstborn are in their power, and while the Secondborn are young.
These spirits mentioned in the quote are in my opinion most probably maiar of some lesser degree. So if an Ent is hewn, is it then fair to say that it is comparable to a maia loosing his/her bodily form? So that the spirit in question would go back to Valinor?
 

Alcuin

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Consigned to the salt mines of Núrnen…
<snarky comment>
Would that make an ent the good equivalent of a tree-balrog? A Green version of Boldog in the forest? Ossë or Tilion encased in cellulose?
</snarky comment>

But if they’re lesser Maiar, why would the Elves have to teach them to speak, as Treebeard described?

When I first read it, I assumed that the passage you cited referred back to Aulë and the making of the Dwarves, a matter of concern to Yavanna, who feared they would destroy her trees. (That is the text immediately preceding the passage.) The Ents were a balance among the olvar for the Dwarves and the Children of Ilúvatar.

Aulë and Yavanna seem more like a married couple than any other Valar or Maiar pair. If Aulë does it, Yavanna’s gotta do it, too. Aulë gets Dwarves, Yavanna’s gotta have Ents. Aulë sends Curunír, Yavanna’s gotta send Aiwendil.
 

Thorondor_

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In Letter #91, to his son, Tolkien says that at that time (when apparently the Lotr was still in the making):
So ends the Middle Age and the Dominion of Men begins, and Aragorn far away on the throne of Gondor labours to bring some order and to preserve some memory of old among the welter of men that Sauron has poured into the West. But Elrond has gone, and all the High Elves. What happens to the Ents I don't yet know. It will probably work out very differently from this plan when it really gets written, as the thing seems to write itself once I get going, as if the truth comes out then, only imperfectly glimpsed in the preliminary sketch
Apparently, the truth about ents didn't surface... :).
But if they’re lesser Maiar, why would the Elves have to teach them to speak, as Treebeard described?
Well, when embodied, even the istari have to re-learn a lot of what they knew; the same could apply here. Tolkien describes them as 'rational souls' several times, and in another letter (#247) he advances the idea that [Ents were either souls sent to inhabit trees, or else that] slowly took the likeness of trees owing to their inborn love of trees - I think that should this be true, it would be a good testimony of their maiar-like nature.
 

Ingwë

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Thorondor_ said:
Tolkien describes them as 'rational souls' several times, and in another letter (#247) he advances the idea that [Ents were either souls sent to inhabit trees, or else that] slowly took the likeness of trees owing to their inborn love of trees - I think that should this be true, it would be a good testimony of their maiar-like nature.
I don't think that the Ents are Maiar. I would rather say that they are nature spirits created by Yavanna and her Maiar. Yavanna created spirits to protect her trees and they inhabited the trees. I think that theory fits well with your quote.
 

Helcaraxë

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I don't think that the Ents are Maiar. I would rather say that they are nature spirits created by Yavanna and her Maiar. Yavanna created spirits to protect her trees and they inhabited the trees. I think that theory fits well with your quote.
Yavanna couldn't possibly have created the spirits, for the same reason Aulë didn't actually create the dwarves; only Eru can give them free will. Yavanna might have created the bodies of the Ents, but we can safely assume that the Ents themselves are maiar.
 

Ingwë

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Helcaraxë said:
Yavanna couldn't possibly have created the spirits, for the same reason Aulë didn't actually create the dwarves; only Eru can give them free will. Yavanna might have created the bodies of the Ents, but we can safely assume that the Ents themselves are maiar.
Ok. But where is Yavanna's role? 1. Probably she transformed the Maiar like Melkor transformed other Maiar and so created Balrogs. 2. Or she asked them to choose other form and to become creatures looking like trees. I can assume 1. because the Ents became more tree-ish through the ages. I think that she transformed them but they lost their Maiar powers, all powers.
 

Gothmog

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Helcaraxë said:
Yavanna couldn't possibly have created the spirits, for the same reason Aulë didn't actually create the dwarves; only Eru can give them free will. Yavanna might have created the bodies of the Ents, but we can safely assume that the Ents themselves are maiar.
In point of fact we can safely assume nothing of the sort. It may well be reasonable to assume this but not safe. It is equally reasonable that the spirits that were called by Yavanna were by-products of the 'Battle of the Themes' in The Music of the Ainur. As the followers of Melkor and the followers of Manwe each strove for victory in the Music many unforeseen things were created. Each of these was known to Eru and sanctioned by him at the time he created Ea.

So while it is true that only Eru can give these sprits free will, it is not certain that because he gave them free will they are automatically Ainur and therefore Maiar. After all the Dwarves are also children of Eru through adoption but that does not make them brothers to Elves and Men.
 

Thorondor_

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If this
Letter #247 said:
But some (Galadriel) were [of the] opinion that when Yavanna discovered the mercy of Eru to Aulë in the matter of the Dwarves, she besought Eru (through Manwë) asking him to give life to things made of living things not stone, and that the Ents were either souls sent to inhabit trees, or else that slowly took the likeness of trees owing to their inborn love of trees.
implies that the ents could have taken their form at will, then
Myths Transformed said:
Only the Valar and Maiar are intelligences that can assume forms of Arda at will.
would imply that they are maiar.
 

Gothmog

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Lots of 'ifs' there.

Let us look again.
Thorondor_ said:
If this
Letter #247 said:
But some (Galadriel) were [of the] opinion that when Yavanna discovered the mercy of Eru to Aulë in the matter of the Dwarves, she besought Eru (through Manwë) asking him to give life to things made of living things not stone, and that the Ents were either souls sent to inhabit trees, or else that slowly took the likeness of trees owing to their inborn love of trees.
implies that the ents could have taken their form at will,
It does not do that. It gives two equally valid possibilities. Either the spirits are sent to inhabit trees, or else the spirits slowly took the likeness of trees.
then
Myths Transformed said:
Only the Valar and Maiar are intelligences that can assume forms of Arda at will.
would imply that they are maiar.
This only follows the Second possibility not the first. So as I said earlier and as you have now proved, while it is indeed reasonable to assume them to be Maiar, it is far from Safe to do so. ;)
 

Thorondor_

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It gives two equally valid possibilities
But you will have to admit that being a maia or not makes a pretty big difference - how could those two variants coexist so "happily" in Tolkien's phrase? And, more importantly, if the ents are not ainur in origin, where from "afar" do they come, and what are they?
 

Gothmog

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I do admit that it makes a difference, but I don't see it as such a great difference.

How could the two variants coexist? Quite simply, Tolkien had not made up his mind between the two. As for where they came from if not Ainur, I already covered that in my first post on the subject. If they are not Ainur then they came from the clash in the Music.

Many things that were not in the Themes of Iluvatar came about because of the 'Battle of the Themes'. As Eru took up the work of Aule and made a place in his plans for the Dwarves. So too he could well have taken up the thought of Yavanna and given to the Ents the souls and free will in the same way.

Unless someone can come up with a definative answer from JRRT we are left with two very reasonable possibilities both of which give the same result within Middle-earth and neither of which can be called a 'safe bet'. :)
 

Helcaraxë

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As the followers of Melkor and the followers of Manwe each strove for victory in the Music many unforeseen things were created. Each of these was known to Eru and sanctioned by him at the time he created Ea.

No "unforeseen" things happened. Nothing is unforseen to Eru. While it is clear that many types of spirits were created, it would be Iluvatar himself who created them, not "by-products" of the Music. Anyway, these spirits would be in the same category, ontologically speaking, as the Maiar. This was an early concept in the Legendarium. If you look at some of the earliest versions of the Ainulindale, Tolkien describes "fays" and various lesser spirits which, though he does not call them maiar explicitly, he makes clear are Ainur created directly by Eru and not as "by-products."

It does not do that. It gives two equally valid possibilities. Either the spirits are sent to inhabit trees, or else the spirits slowly took the likeness of trees.
As Thorondor said, this would still imply that they are maiar. The fact that they can assume different forms, regardless of whether they did it because they wanted to or because they were bidden, shows that they are maiar.
 

Thorondor_

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I think that the following passage from Letter #200 to R. Bowen, concerning the ainur/angelic spirits, is also relevant to our discussion:
They were allowed to do so, and the great among them became the equivalent of the 'gods' of traditional mythologies; but a condition was that they would remain 'in it' until the Story was finished. They were thus in the world, but not of a kind whose essential nature is to be physically incarnate. They were self-incarnated, if they wished; but their incarnate forms were more analogous to our clothes than to our bodies, except that they were more than are clothes the expression of their desires, moods, wills and functions. Knowledge of the Story as it was when composed, before realization, gave them their measure of fore-knowledge; the amount varied very much, from the fairly complete knowledge of the mind of the Creator in this matter possessed by Manwë, the 'Elder King', to that of lesser spirits who might have been interested only in some subsidiary matter (such as trees or birds).
 

elrilgalia

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oh, Im sorry... but I just cant resist posting this :eek:

Where do Ents go after they die?

On the woodpile :confused:
*ducks*

(sorry!)
 

Gothmog

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Helcaraxë said:
No "unforeseen" things happened. Nothing is unforseen to Eru. While it is clear that many types of spirits were created, it would be Iluvatar himself who created them, not "by-products" of the Music. Anyway, these spirits would be in the same category, ontologically speaking, as the Maiar. This was an early concept in the Legendarium. If you look at some of the earliest versions of the Ainulindale, Tolkien describes "fays" and various lesser spirits which, though he does not call them maiar explicitly, he makes clear are Ainur created directly by Eru and not as "by-products."
Where is your proof that Eru foresaw everything that would be produced by the music? We can only be sure that he knows everything about the past, present and future of Arda because he heard and understood every part of the music.

When Eru allowed the Ainur to embelish his themes according to their own abilities through their own free-will he also allowed for things he did not foresee to comeabout through this. He then saw all that came about through the music and sanctioned every part during his creation of that music into Arda.

As Thorondor said, this would still imply that they are maiar. The fact that they can assume different forms, regardless of whether they did it because they wanted to or because they were bidden, shows that they are maiar.
We do not know if they can assume different forms. Indeed, we do not know if they can assume even one form. As was stated earlier,
Either the spirits are sent to inhabit trees, or else the spirits slowly took the likeness of trees.
The first option does not require an ability to assume a form since the trees already have the form and the substance of trees and spirits simply take over these. It is only with the second option that they need the ability to assume a form and therefore would be Maia.

If the first option is what happened then less potent Ainur could have been called to take over the trees [and therefore be Maia) or Eru could have created lesser spirits for this task (and therefore not be Maia). Tolkien had not, it would seem, decided this question.
 

Thorondor_

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Where is your proof that Eru foresaw everything that would be produced by the music?
In Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth, it is stated that the creation depends in every detail and in every moment on the design (and will) of Eru.

I don't know why you ignored the quote I gave from Letter #200; it makes sense to me that the spirits that were mentioned in Of Aule and Yavanna as taking care of kelvar and olvar are the same "angelic" spirits mentioned in the letter as taking care of trees and birds - i.e. maiar.
 

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Anything that happens in Arda is but a part of the themes of the Ainur. So even if the dwarves weren't supposed to be made the were, so they became part of the theme.
 

Wonko The Sane

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Do Ents die in the sense that we die?

They probably don't die of old age. We know that some of them at least become more tree-ish, and that some become indestinguishable from trees at all.
Would those Ents also be subject to whatever rules (whatever afterlife) that active Ents like Treebeard would enjoy?

Do they still retain their status as maiar, or spirits or whatever they are?
 

Helcaraxë

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I would say yes. The only instances I can really think of in which an Ainu dies (the Balrogs are uncertain; I would argue they survived in some way) is Mandos' prophecy about Turin slaying Melkor, but even here I just don't see it happening; nothing happening in Arda can affect the feä, only the corporeal form. But this is very debatable.
 

Ciryaher

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I would assume that since the Dwarves returned to that from which they were created, and since the Ents (and Eagles) were created similarly to the Dwarves (one would assume, since they came shortly after), the Ents would also return to that from which they were created. I don't recall what the Ents were shaped from...and I can't look it up.

Needless to say, I think it's not so unreasonable to believe that nothing happens to them when they pass away. I believe the dwarves hold that their House Fathers are reborn into the bodies of their descendants, so perhaps something similar happens to the greatest ents as well.

There is far too little information on them, however, to make a solid decision, sadly.
 

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