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Silmarillion Chapter Discussion: Akallabeth (Downfall of Numenor) Part II
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Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Aug 31 2013, 4:00am

Post #51 of 60 (394 views)
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Devil's Advocate 2: The Revenge [In reply to] Can't Post

 
Now I don't want to seem argumentative or confrontational here. My only aim is stimulating discussion, and I find you to bear an interesting take on this chapter, and seem rather well informed in your opinions. SmileSo please do not take anything as I say as anything more than DA doing their part. Ok Smile

First, thanks for clarifying your position to me, you do raise interesting points, but let us flip the coin. Eh?

You seem to say that the whole passage is "problematic" because the Numenorians were punished for going against Eru's will in accepting their mortality, for holding beliefs that ran counter to His. Now I would say that they were not punished for this, (holding the beliefs). In later years no one seems to pray to or acknowledge Eru, Gandalf doesn't do around preaching and calling to service and prayer, so Eru would seem to tolerate whatever belief system they chose. If Rohan had a horse-god and served it, I don't see Eru calling down cataclysm on them. The fate of men seems to be inescapable, there isn't a final judgement spoken of, so Eru is pretty laid back, as far as gods go, requiring almost nothing to go to the ultimate fate if men.

So I wouldn't say that they were judged/punished for their beliefs.


For your second conclusion, I'd need a bit more info on how you came to it. There isn't anything for me to reply to.

The third, we both agree is awesome Wink

The next point. I concede that not everybody would be comforted by the urging to "have faith", but like I said, it depends on the person. Some people would, some people wouldn't. My only point is that it is possible, but dirsnt occur in every case.

Moving down....Then next point that you made, about Eru/the Valar knowing the psychology, in that giving them a paradise would be detrimental, I only sought to point out that it was the choice of imperfect beings, resulting in imperfect results. They did not KNOW what would happen.

The next point of discussion brings up the topic of the Cosmic Plan of Arda, I like to call it The Fate of the World. You ask why Eru doesn't explain the whole thing to them, right?

Now from a purely cynical view we could say," He is the Supreme Being, he doesn't report to anyone, and he can do as he likes! If he wanted to turn all the trees pink, he could, just because he WANTS to! "

I don't believe that this is the correct view to take, but hopefully you understand my point--Eru owes no one an explanation.

Personally, now, I think that Eru is very hands-off. I hate to invoke RL examples, as it can easily run away into a touchy subject, but I will break that rule here. There is a theological term that escapes me, but it perfectly encapsulates the situation of Arda. It is a belief that the creator of the universe, after finishing his creative acts, left the world to run on its own power. That seems to be the main case with Eru. He set things in motion and stepped back.

He did have a plan though, and the Great Music was the outline of history. There are things that MUST happen to serve Eru's Great Music, and instances where anything is allowed to happen. If anybody is a Dr. Who fan, I think of David Tennant's Doctor's explanation of time. There are "fixed" points in history where one thing MUST happen, or history will be changed. Then there are "flux" periods when anything can happen, and in these cases, the Doctor can change the outcome and interfere, without altering history.

Now that we are back from that tangent, I'll continue. There are certain prophecies and predicted/forseen events that are present in ME. These must cone true to follow the Great Music, limiting the actions of those involved. Mandos limits the Valar when they want to act against Morgoth, by saying that the Elves NEED to awaken under the stars--a fixed point.

Now backthose prophecies and predictions. The actors in the prophecy/Fate/fixed points, are never told EXACTLY what to expect. They are part of the Great Music, and inherently bound to follow it, but then we run into free-will. They all posess it, Vala, Elf, Man, Dwarf, and Halflings. They CAN and DO make their own decisions, so if they knew the future, they could alter it. By this time we get into time travel and paradoxes, so lets leave it there that it could be world ending, if they knew the future. Mandos does, and he keeps his mouth mostly shut!! (Is that because he is afraid that he might let one slip? LOL, I gues that with great knowledge, comes great responsibility...and a vow of silence!)

This whole topic reminds me of the end of TH, where Bilbo exclaims that the kefends of the rivers running with gold have come true. Gandalf remarks that surely Bilbo did not disbelieve them because he was a part of them? He was a part of the fulfillment of the Fate of the World. They shape that Fate and are shaped by it. Pretty complicated, (Wibbly-wobbly Timey-wimey, you might say) but what I believe us going on here.

Your next question would probably be the deepest philosophical question that could be asked in ME, but I believe that my previous ramble satisfies this question. Simply, Eru owes no one anything, and that he could be altering the plan by telling it.

Addressing the next point. I must say that you are putting your morality on Eru, so we are going by your standards here. It is wrong to you but perhaps not to him. It would be so much easier if we had Eru's Ten Comnandments, as it were.

That said, another pint can be raised. If Eru is the setter of moral law, then he would be the standard for ME. Most courts do not take into consideration how foreign courts run, and don't pick and choose laws, in order to make it easier for the people operating in them. They use their own rule book. So Eru, if we see him as judge, is acting in accordance with his own rules, snd unles we can prove that he violated them, we cannot impeach him. We can disagree, and by all means do if you want, but I think that the only 'conviction' that we can get in ME court would be in the case that he transgressed his own law. Which we cannot do.

So it is up in the air,( Unless someone finds Eru's rule book.)

Your next statement had me peg you as a Questioner. Not wrong, just your part of your AWESOME personality. You need evidence, and tend to be skeptic of anything that you need to take someone's "word for it".

Am I far wrong?

Next point. Humane? Do you perhaps mean tolerant?

I would see this judgement coming as a result of actions taken by the Numenorians. They were punished for bringing, or trying to( does attempted murder weigh less than actual murder? Should we let it happen before we judge?) bring force against the Valar. In a court setting, lets imagine this.

Case: Numenorians vs. Valar

Judge Eru presiding

Charges: Attempted assault with deadly weapons, Trespassing, Libel , Intent to commit burglary and theft.

Summary: Now it fell out thus. While said party of Numenorians were trespassing, they sought to, by force and coercion, to harm and otherwise, to despoil the Said Valar of home, property, and possibly of life, and in the defense of their property, it happened that said Numenorians were killed, dead, on the premises of said Valar. It also fell out that the accomplices of said Trespassers, were harmed, injured, and othrwise killed in the defence of the Valar. It also happens that such Numenorians as were not made part, in deed or conspiracy, before or after the fact, were, regrettably killed in the defence if Said property of the aforementioned Valar.

Now after some cosmic dispute, this ruling is reached. The Numenorians who took part in the acts afore stated, and their co-conspirators, whether vofore or after the fact, are adjudged guilty of All charges afore stated. Their deaths will be ruled justifiable homicide, and the acts of the Valar, self defence.

It is, however, also noted, that in the furtherance of their schemes to protect both life, limb, and property, that the Valar, in question, did cause to occur the wrongful deaths of Numenorians, afore said, that had no part in the conspiracy against said Valar, and were totally innocent of all crimes. It is this courts decision, that a restauning order be issued, against such Valar, so that a minimum distance of 20.000.00 miles be placed between these, the survivors, and the Valar aforementioned. I do this in consideration that no malicious intent was observed in said Valar's actions, and that such survivors of this unfortunate instance may be dissuaded from retaliatory action.

A jokes aside, I think that the Valar have a good case, and Eru judged the Numenorians on their actions.

Now, you might say that Eru was the aggressor, OK. Lets look at that.

He stopped the Numenorians from conquering Aman, and caused the Island if Numenor to sink, killing innocents. Ignoring the criminally complicit, we will focus on innocents. You say, if Eru had not sunk Numenor they eoukd have lived. Right? True, perhaps, but in the long run would it have helped? You leave Sauron in charge if a bunch of people mad at Eru and the Valar(maybe rightly so!) So he works on their hatred and converts the majority to Morgoth worship, or some other end he has in mind. (Keep in mind his status here, most powerful person in ME, he could have had his own will). So they follow him, doing nasty things and tens of thousands suffer and die, as they come under his control.

I think this this a possible scenario. Do you Agree?

Perhaps Eru took the 'best route. He killed hundreds, to save tens if thousands. Not GOOD, they are still dead and innocent, but the BEST choice in this case. We don't always have 'everybody wins' scenarios, anymore then we have criminals punished and innocents waking away every day. It just doesn't happen. He made a call here, that was better than the alternatives.

Now you might say that Eru made this happen, but did he? No. Going back to the legal analogy, there is proximate cause and ultimate cause.

Example:

I fall down a man hole

Proximate cause: because the hole was uncovered.

Ultamite cause: because Joe the utility worker left it open!

I can't take legal action on the proximate cause, in this case(who do I sue, the man hole cover?), but I can IF I can prove ultimate cause--that if joe hasn't left the hole open, then I wouldn't have fallen.

Got it?

Eru might be proximate cause, but what is ultimate cause here? Evil. If Sauron had never urged the Numenorians to invade, it would my have happened.

Now Ultimate cause is VERY hard to prove, as there can be many layers. If the Numenorians hadn't sailed, if they hadn't listens to Sauron, if Sauron had never suggested it, if Pharazon had never brought him to Numenor, If the Valar had never given them Numenor, if Aule made more time for Sauron and taught him good better, if Manwe hadn't been so mean to Melkor when he wanted to order the others, and all the way back to If Eru never made Arda!!!

I hope you see how tricky and downright RIDICULOUS it can get, there has to be a point where ultimate cause fails, or it goes back ALL the way to the creative forces behind the world.(Blame God/Evolution/Physics for your actions in court, yeah.... See how far you get!!)

If we stop with Sauron as ultimate, we have another candidate to take Eru's blame.

Moving on....

In the first part of your next statement, you could find the answer above, in my cynical" he can do what he wants" or "his morality would be supreme in Arda".

Any disagreement would be fine, but we need to realize that our opinions are just that, opinions. We can't prove Eru a hypocrite, or condemn a fictionsl character by RL morals. It is all speculation.

But speculation makes things FUN!!!

In the second part, you disagree on writing style. Totally up to you, we can't fault your specific taste in literature( hey you like Tolkien! You're cool in my book!)


The next two points are comments on the conclusion so I will skip down three points to your comment on a "flawed law".

It is flawed in your opinion, which is fine, but I've rambled on this topic too much. So carry on...

On the final point you make.

You bring RL into it, or at least what some believe to be real life. Now these accounts of gods doing no wrong, would be such, as the people wouldn't believe in flawed gods. They would reflect rge morality of that people. So, knowing that, and that we are applying RL standard to a fake world's deity, I can inlt repeat my legal case, Eru made the BEST decision and as denizens of ME, they could trust him or not.

We as outside observers, not subject to Eru's power, have an imaginary position. We are trying to judge Eru from both an objective(what is right ultamitely) and subjective view(what is right in context of Arda and its morality). We must realize this, our false position, and account for it in our jugement. We must judge Eru subjectively, without any of our objective knowledge, or objectively, by his own laws as if we were subject to them. We cannot do both, and the fact it is a fictional work, just complicates the matter.

In closing I'd like to say again. THIS IS AN OPINION. Feel free to disagree. I just wanted to bring the other side if the coin into view.

Oh.... And us there an award for the longest post?

I think I just won it!!! LOL

Happy discussion everybody!!


noWizardme
Half-elven


Aug 31 2013, 4:24pm

Post #52 of 60 (376 views)
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Eru the war criminal? [In reply to] Can't Post

Eru is held to be omnipotent, and so has limitless options in dealing with the Numenoreans. So it's fair enough to wonder why his response seems so harsh.

To prevent the episode completely he could have:
Created the Edain so they were incapable of wishing for immortality
Created the Edain so that they could not disobey a direct order from the Valar.

…but perhaps this would constrain the power of free will which we observe characters in Arda have. Perhaps free will is essential in Erus schemes, even though it brings with it the possibility that people act against Erus wishes.

If Eru chooses not to prevent any rebellion, he has the option of acting only against Sauron, or only against Sauron and the Numenorean leadership (or against any other appropriate subset, rather than punishing Numenor so comprehensively. Destroying all but a few boatloads does seem disproportionate: as if the World War 2 allies had launched a genocide against all subjects of the formerly nazi states, save a few individuals who could prove they had always opposed nazi-ism.

I think we're led to believe that Eru is a moral being (?). If so we'd expect his decisions to be guided by doing no unnecessary harm. Either that or he has a disturbingly nasty temper for an ultimate being! Laugh

At this point it becomes a matter of faith, I suppose: one either trusts That Eru behaves morally (and so all other reactions would have been morally worse in some way which might only be comprehensible to Eru).
Or one doesn't …

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 2 2013, 8:55pm

Post #53 of 60 (361 views)
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"Eru is merciful" [In reply to] Can't Post

Isn't that what Yavanna said to Aule about the creation of Dwarves? He certainly was merciful to both the Dwarves and Aule.

In the Great Music, he was initially tolerant, then sternly disapproving of Melkor's dissent, but he didn't wipe out Melkor or his followers or even punish them with anything beyond verbal criticism.

I think that's why Eru feels out place in this chapter ("the war criminal"), like he's a different person altogether when wiping out Numenor. One could say he has different rules for Valar and Edain, but that's a flaw in itself, isn't it? Melkor did far more evil than the Edain did.

I suppose we're all focusing on the end of the Akallabeth. The parts I DO enjoy are the early ones, where Numenor is fresh and there's the thrill of building something new and rediscovering the world. It's significant that Numenor is happiest in this era and helps other men instead of dominating them. It becomes richer and more powerful later, but much less happy. That's a recurring Tolkien theme about finding balance and avoiding extremes. When Numenor was more like the Shire, i.e., accepting boundaries on the Edain, including their mortality, Numenoreans lived a naturally harmonic life.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 2 2013, 9:25pm

Post #54 of 60 (356 views)
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Judging Eru [In reply to] Can't Post

First, an enormous Thank You! (I'm passing them out today) to Bombadil and you, Rembrethil, for agreeing to disagree so politely. You're demonstrating that the Internet doesn't have to be about crushing the opposition with venom and ad hominem attacks; if only more people thought the same.

Second, good point about judging Eru, and yes, I'm imposing my morality on him over Numenor's destruction, which is the equivalent of him imposing his morality on them for attacking Valinor, so it's good to keep that in perspective.

One thing I'll note is that he didn't destroy Numenor for its people's beliefs (worshipping the Dark Side) but for its military invasion of Valinor, so it was about actions, not beliefs. But do you suppose the invasion only precipitated Numenor's destruction? They were practicing human sacrifice, and even Melkor didn't do that. I wonder if that would have caught up with them in a Big Tsunami sooner or later. There were plenty of warning signs of Valar/Eru disapproval long before the invasion took place.

It is just a story, after all, and a story needs a climax. It would have made more sense if Eonwe showed up in Numenor and told people what would happen if they didn't get their heads on straight. Sauron was beguiling, but he didn't hypnotize them all. For that matter, even Sauron didn't see the island's destruction coming, so how could the Edain? And if some divine power didn't want Pharazon to invade Aman, then Osse could have destroyed their fleet before it left the harbor. Those outcomes would be more rationally and emotionally satisfying to me, but none of them would make a satisfying climax to the story. Bad and terrible things need to happen. Otherwise, Eagles would take the Ring to Mordor and drop it in Mt Doom. Happily ever after.


Brethil
Half-elven


Sep 2 2013, 9:33pm

Post #55 of 60 (353 views)
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Clashing free wills? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Second, good point about judging Eru, and yes, I'm imposing my morality on him over Numenor's destruction, which is the equivalent of him imposing his morality on them for attacking Valinor, so it's good to keep that in perspective.
One thing I'll note is that he didn't destroy Numenor for its people's beliefs (worshipping the Dark Side) but for its military invasion of Valinor, so it was about actions, not beliefs. But do you suppose the invasion only precipitated Numenor's destruction? They were practicing human sacrifice, and even Melkor didn't do that. I wonder if that would have caught up with them in a Big Tsunami sooner or later. There were plenty of warning signs of Valar/Eru disapproval long before the invasion took place.
True CG - there were signs but I think the line crossed may have been involving free will and I wonder if we can delineate the entire moral of the Numenor story in the context of free will - after all, it was the free will of the Valar to create Numenor (not Eru's). And Eru allowed this land to take what course it would, based on the choices and free will of the Numenorean's. He interferes where the choices of the Numenoreans impacted the Valar directly, and was forcing them to choose to destroy the Men themselves or to ask for aid and counsel from Eru (which they did) before taking action against his Children.


Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 2 2013, 9:48pm

Post #56 of 60 (349 views)
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Capital punishment [In reply to] Can't Post

You bring up a good point about Eru's intervention, Breth. It seems implied that he's saving the Valar in one of two ways, and maybe saving them was *more important* than punishing Numenor. Either the invading army is too great for them to defeat (which I doubt), or they don't want to kill the Numenoreans themselves, which is why they lay down their guardianship, and they get him to do the deed. I'm not sure if that's because they think killing the Edain is outside of their legal jurisdiction, or if they are morally repelled by the idea, or if intellectually they just don't have the slightest idea what they should do. Hence they throw the problem in his lap.

I'll admit it mirrors my own feelings about capital punishment in the RL, which I don't want to spark a debate about, just acknowledge my own ambivalence about it: someone commits a heinous crime, but I don't think killing them will solve anything, but if they wind up dead, I'm glad in a guilty kind of way. Similarly, the Valar didn't seem to want to pull the trigger on Numenor, but I doubt they grieved its fall in anything more than an abstract "all life is worthy; too bad this happened" way.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 2 2013, 10:08pm

Post #57 of 60 (367 views)
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Aldarion and Erendis [In reply to] Can't Post

As a side note to the Akallabeth, have many people read "Aldarion and Erendis" in Unfinished Tales? That story sheds light on Numenor in its more innocent era, but in a rather unsettling way. They're two strong-willed people who fall out of love after their royal marriage, and their bad relationship leads to a disagreeable daughter, Ancalime. Aldarion's relationship with his father is also strained.

Why is it that Tolkien showcases more realistic but negative behavior in Numenor than anywhere else? Arnor, Gondor, and Rohan have their problems, and so did Turin, but most of the time, Men act heroically, or better than they did in Numenor, which was supposed to be when they were at their best.


Brethil
Half-elven


Sep 3 2013, 2:12am

Post #58 of 60 (338 views)
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Paternal intervention and the theology of the death of Numenor [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
You bring up a good point about Eru's intervention, Breth. It seems implied that he's saving the Valar in one of two ways, and maybe saving them was *more important* than punishing Numenor. Either the invading army is too great for them to defeat (which I doubt), or they don't want to kill the Numenoreans themselves, which is why they lay down their guardianship, and they get him to do the deed. I'm not sure if that's because they think killing the Edain is outside of their legal jurisdiction, or if they are morally repelled by the idea, or if intellectually they just don't have the slightest idea what they should do. Hence they throw the problem in his lap.

I'll admit it mirrors my own feelings about capital punishment in the RL, which I don't want to spark a debate about, just acknowledge my own ambivalence about it: someone commits a heinous crime, but I don't think killing them will solve anything, but if they wind up dead, I'm glad in a guilty kind of way. Similarly, the Valar didn't seem to want to pull the trigger on Numenor, but I doubt they grieved its fall in anything more than an abstract "all life is worthy; too bad this happened" way.




I think that the Valar both perhaps did not know what to do (other than capitulate - not a great plan) because they have gone and donked things up with their choice, yet again, of being rather angelically paternal themselves towards another race - but one created not by them by but by Eru: so a paternalism that they could never fully experience or act upon. Thus their position is not one of being the ultimate parent, and they cannot take the steps that Eru can (and is rather forced to take at this stage of the game, due to the choices made.) I always like to note here that Ulmo seems to have stayed right out of the whole situation.
In a theological sense, I think what he is getting at here is that (although as he says in Letters, ME is not a Christian world, unlike Narnia) the ultimate power of the Universe, and of the judgment of the fate of Men is not the Valar but the One: Eru. So ultimately a monotheistic universe, though we are given a living pantheon of divinities...I think it is a fascinating literary exercise in contrast. For the Men of Arda, the One would assume more and more importance, especially as the Valar retreat and their memory fades from the minds of men (bringing us to present day in JRRT's world and theological view I think).
I do think the Valar grieved less for Numenor than for Feanor - but they had to feel some sense of loss and responsibility.

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








Brethil
Half-elven


Sep 3 2013, 2:16am

Post #59 of 60 (337 views)
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Pure humor and speculation here... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
As a side note to the Akallabeth, have many people read "Aldarion and Erendis" in Unfinished Tales? That story sheds light on Numenor in its more innocent era, but in a rather unsettling way. They're two strong-willed people who fall out of love after their royal marriage, and their bad relationship leads to a disagreeable daughter, Ancalime. Aldarion's relationship with his father is also strained.

Why is it that Tolkien showcases more realistic but negative behavior in Numenor than anywhere else? Arnor, Gondor, and Rohan have their problems, and so did Turin, but most of the time, Men act heroically, or better than they did in Numenor, which was supposed to be when they were at their best.




But I wonder, just as a fun musing, (since I think the concept of royalty in the real world would have derived from the Numenoreans) if the captivating antics of Royals in general as part of the English culture was an influence for the more pronounced Numenorean misbehaviors?

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Sep 3 2013, 2:50am

Post #60 of 60 (346 views)
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Didn't Tolkien say.... [In reply to] Can't Post

That the it was strange, but that the gruesome, scary, sad, bad things in life make the best stories. He went on to say that children like the scary stories, and should know them, so that they fear the right types of things, and not bugbears.

It could have been someone else, but is true. The happy stories of peace and prosperity don't make as good stories as upset and trouble.

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