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When do Elves stop ageing?
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iandea14
Rivendell


Sep 5 2012, 7:20am

Post #1 of 39 (2760 views)
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When do Elves stop ageing? Can't Post

I've wondered at what age does an elf stop looking older. Because if they're immortal and age as humans do imagine how old Elrond would look? Do they age at an extremely slow rate, so would a fifty year old look like a seven year old? I need some explaining!


Elizabeth
Valinor


Sep 5 2012, 8:12am

Post #2 of 39 (1611 views)
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The closest we can come to answers... [In reply to] Can't Post

...may be found in "Laws and Customs of the Eldar" edited by Christopher Tolkien in Morgoth's Ring (History of Middle Earth X):


Quote
The Eldar grew in bodily form slower than Men, but in mind more swiftly. They learned to speak before they were one year old; and in the same time they learned to walk and to dance, for their wills came soon to the mastery of their bodies. Nonetheless there was less difference between the two Kindreds, Elves and Men, in early youth; and a man who watched elf-children at play might well have believed that they were the children of Men...

...at the end of the third year mortal children began to outstrip the Elves, hastening on to a full stature, while the Elves lingered in the first spring of childhood....

Not until the fiftieth year did the Eldar attain the stature and shape in which their lives would afterwards endure, and for some a hundred years would pass before they were full grown.

The Eldar wedded for the most part in their youth and soon after their fiftieth year.

It's quite a fascinating essay. We are left to assume that after the 50 or 100 years or so, Elves didn't change much physically, but the "burden of memory" grew upon them.






Join us NOW in the Reading Room for detailed discussions of The Hobbit, July 9-Nov. 18!

Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


iandea14
Rivendell


Sep 5 2012, 8:24am

Post #3 of 39 (1577 views)
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Thank you! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you very much! That was very informative and interesting!


rings7
Rohan


Sep 5 2012, 9:54pm

Post #4 of 39 (1545 views)
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This is interesting, and confusing lol [In reply to] Can't Post

cause i remember in the movie when Elrond is telling Gandalf "i was there....some thousands years ago", when he was in the last alliance. He looked the same. And we're talking about thousands of years. So does this mean that he stopped aging and will look like that for the rest of his life? I mean, Galadriel is his mother in law, right?


mandel
Rivendell


Sep 5 2012, 11:31pm

Post #5 of 39 (1459 views)
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Don't forget Cirdan the Shipwright [In reply to] Can't Post

Apparently, when Elves become very very old, they begin to show further signs of age. The main bit of evidence is in the character of Cirdan the Shipwright, caretaker of the Grey Havens, who has a long grey beard. As I understand it, he is perhaps among those Elves who were born in Cuivienen before the Elves originally undertook the voyage to the Undying Lands. (I take it some people think he might even be among the 144 Elves who first awoke there; but this is controversial).

Mostly, I know about Cirdan because of a long blog essay by Paul Ashwell, who participates on this site under the username "malickfan." This essay is here:

http://paulashwellreviews.wordpress.com/...e-tolkien-fans-only/


(This post was edited by mandel on Sep 5 2012, 11:32pm)


Elizabeth
Valinor


Sep 5 2012, 11:34pm

Post #6 of 39 (1633 views)
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Yes, that's right! [In reply to] Can't Post

Elves are immortal. However, Tolkien does admit that, due to Morgoth's Taint (residual evil permeating the earth), after a very long time (thousands of years) they may "fade" so that their physical bodies are no longer visible, leaving only their spirits. That is why those who are eligible are returning West to Valinor, where Morgoth's Taint doesn't exist.






Join us NOW in the Reading Room for detailed discussions of The Hobbit, July 9-Nov. 18!

Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


imin
Valinor


Sep 6 2012, 6:43am

Post #7 of 39 (1312 views)
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A post from another site i found helpful - hope its ok to do this! [In reply to] Can't Post

Morgoth's Ring provides 50 years, for some 100 years (as just noted), and while this has proved to be popular on the web, it's not the only idea Tolkien had, nor even the latest idea he had. Other examples include:

'They' are the Númenóreans: 'Thus (as the Eldar) they grew at much the same rate as other Men, but when they had achieved 'full growth' then they aged, or 'wore out', very much more slowly.' Note 1, The Line of Elros, Unfinished Tales

Author's notes to NKE ('neter, kanat, enek'): Note 1: 'C.E. ? netthi. C.E. tth > Q., T. tt; S. þþ > þ. nette meant 'girl approaching the adult' (in her 'teens': the growth of Elvish children after birth was little if at all slower than that of the children of Men). The Common Eldarin stem (wen-ed) wendé 'maiden' applied to all stages up to the fully adult (until marriage).' JRRT, from Vinyar Tengwar 47, texts generally dated 1967-70

This text is quite a bit later than Laws And Customs Among the Eldar (Morgoth's Ring), which generally dates to the late 1950s early 1960s.

These two texts appear to say that the Eldar grew at about the same rate as Men. But even this is not the complete story, as there is another indication, from other texts published in Morgoth's Ring (still later 1950s however), that the Eldar, at least early in the history of Middle-earth and in Aman, matured much slower than 50 to 100 years -- and actually the notion seems to be that it took roughly 3,000 years for an Elf-child to become an adult! and possibly (based on a further text written at this time called Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth) in Middle-earth (not in Aman) this rate dwindled, meaning that it took less time to grow to be an adult in Middle-earth as time passed, suggesting Elven children reached maturity faster and faster until at least Finrod's conversation with Andreth.

This idea is wound up with possible drastic changes in the internal chronology, as well as the notion of 144 Sun Years being equal to 1 Valian Year (not roughly 10 Sun Years being equal to 1 Valian Year, as formerly).


It's a complicated subject, but considering external chronology, I tend to think Tolkien had altered all this for a simpler scenario: that Elves grew at much the same rate as Men, until reaching their mature bodies.


iandea14
Rivendell


Sep 6 2012, 6:59am

Post #8 of 39 (1557 views)
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Movie might be wrong [In reply to] Can't Post

Maybe the Movies (God Forbid) did a bad job showing the ageing of Elrond.


Elthir
Gondor

Sep 6 2012, 12:26pm

Post #9 of 39 (1282 views)
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Quoting others [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
'(...) It's a complicated subject, but considering external chronology, I tend to think Tolkien had altered all this for a simpler scenario: that Elves grew at much the same rate as Men, until reaching their mature bodies.' Originally posted by Galin at The Lord of the Rings Plaza, Tolkien Fanatics Forum




I think it's ok to quote someone, but maybe put the text in quotes or link to the actual page, or perhaps include the person's name (like here), whether a 'real' name or not. But I agree, the idea found in Laws and Customs Among The Eldar appears to be only one answer among others. Tolkien sometimes changed his mind!

It might be remotely possible that all these ideas could be parts of the same idea, the notion being: a rate of growth that dwindled in Middle-earth as time passed, if the rate rather drastically altered in Middle-earth over time that is: thus 3,000 or so years very early on (and in Aman), but after time the Elves matured faster and faster, and at some point this rate reduced to 50 or 100 years, perhaps at the time of Finrod's conversation with Andreth* -- and even later, the Eldar ultimately grew at much the same rate as Men.

I think that's much less likely than Tolkien simply changing his mind however, as 3,000-ish to about the same rate as Men is quite the change internally! It was probably easier to keep track of chronology if Elves simply matured at the same rate as Men, but that's a total guess as to why Tolkien seems to have later headed that way.

_______________

* 'This I can well believe,' said Finrod: 'That your bodies suffer in some measure the malice of Melkor. For you live in Arda Marred, as do we, and all the matter of Arda is tainted by him, before ye or we came forth and drew our hroar and their sustenance therefrom: all save only Aman before he came there. For know it is not otherwise with the Quendi themselves: their health and stature is diminished. Already those of us who dwell in Middle-earth, and even we who have returned to it, find that the change* [*the word change was an emendation to the typescript B (only); the manuscript has growth -- footnote by CJRT] of their bodies is swifter than in the beginning. And that, I judge, must forebode that they will prove less strong to last than they were designed to be, though this may not be clearly revealed for many long years.'

Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth (and see Author's note 7 on the Commentary)


Noel Q. von Schneiffel
Rivendell


Sep 6 2012, 5:17pm

Post #10 of 39 (1473 views)
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Cirdan and Fading [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, precisely. In addition to that effect, Cirdan had also been wearing Narya a lot, which was a Great Ring after all. Clearly, the fading effect of that wasn't as strong as that of the Nine, but it had taken its toll. Cirdan eventually noticed that he got less and less visible, panicked and gave the ring to Gandalf, but the damage was already done.

And this is the reason why Cirdan had glued a fake beard to his face. Most of his face had already faded, and he felt self-conscious about not having a chin.

I have written an essay about that matter, which is on my website ("Wraights, Wights and Invisibility"), which also includes imagery of how Cirdan looked with his fake beard on.



The Glorious Truth of J.R.R. Tolkien
Radiates from his Holy Writings


http://www.tolkientruth.info/


Elthir
Gondor

Sep 6 2012, 5:37pm

Post #11 of 39 (1475 views)
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preservation power [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree Ciryatan's beard was probably fake...

... but couldn't Narya have helped preserve his hroa from fading? I'm confused.


(This post was edited by Elthir on Sep 6 2012, 5:38pm)


Noel Q. von Schneiffel
Rivendell


Sep 6 2012, 5:54pm

Post #12 of 39 (1438 views)
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Maybe both happened [In reply to] Can't Post

The skin, being in direct contact with the ring, faded. The internal organs were preserved. Finally, you end up looking like a disgusting floating ball of intestines. Yuck!

We never learn how the Nazgûl looked under these robes, do we? Not below the neckline, at least. (The Witch King's head was completely invisible, of course, during the Siege of Gondor.)



The Glorious Truth of J.R.R. Tolkien
Radiates from his Holy Writings


http://www.tolkientruth.info/


Elthir
Gondor

Sep 6 2012, 9:47pm

Post #13 of 39 (1257 views)
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Tolkien's number [In reply to] Can't Post

I think it would be interesting to know the age, or range perhaps, that Tolkien would have picked.

And by that I mean at what age, compared to mortals, did an Elf reach physical maturity. Cirdan confuses me actually, as I would think he would look 'faded' in some measure rather than looking old, as the text implies at least (if I recall correctly technically the text notes that Cirdan 'was' old, but the way the passage is worded, admittedly the implication is that he looked old as well, save his keen eyes).

What 'mortal age' would Tolkien himself have chosen for, say, Celeborn and Galadriel? Twenty five maybe? Something a little older?

Within the various explanations all we really know is that the Elves reached some 'adult' form (physically) and then appear to have 'stopped' ageing (while ageing internally in ways), or stopped in the sense that they then outwardly aged so slowly that no Elf we meet actually 'looks old'...

... well again except for that pesky Shipwright, seemingly. Drat.


PhantomS
Rohan


Sep 7 2012, 1:34am

Post #14 of 39 (1301 views)
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Elrond [In reply to] Can't Post

Elrond , like other Elves does not look old at all and to humans looks quite young apart from his eyes. Even Galadriel and Celeborn, who are from the First Age look magnificently fit and beautiful apart from the depths of their eyes. And Elrond was only born near the end of the First Age when Galadriel was already centuries old!

It's worth mentioning that Elrond is of both human and Elvish descent and he is accounted as among the High Elves despite not having been to Valinor (he has starlight in his eyes, like the Noldor) so he will have a particular blend of features that reflect this. And yes he has not aged since he was fifty years old, and Elves look young even after that , like Legolas when he entered Minas Tirith with Gimli.

Only a life of several millenia will make an Elf look old- Cirdan the Shipwright is of the very first generation of Elves, being a relative of Thingol, and he has a beard. Hard labor and a lifetime of seclusion may also age an Elf prematurely, in the case of Eol of Nan Emloth, who became stooped because of his smith-work.


Elthir
Gondor

Sep 7 2012, 3:44pm

Post #15 of 39 (1354 views)
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Ageless [In reply to] Can't Post

Hmm, the face of Elrond Halfelven was described as 'ageless, neither old nor young' and 'venerable he seemed as a king crowned with many winters, and yet hale as a tried warrior in the fulness of his strength'

So obviously he looked... ah... [cough] [mumble]... '__' [fill in number] years old.

As a side note, I don't see why Cirdan being older than Galadriel should necessarily make him look old. Celeborn could have been as old as Cirdan, or fairly close. Well 'could have' isn't very compelling I admit, but the question is: why should some great number of years that is admittedly higher than some other, but still great number of years, mean that one Elf looks old while the Elf who is 'lesser' in years does not?

In other words, we don't have a number. The idea seems to be that since Cirdan looks old there 'must' be some number that he reached that others haven't. Hmm. But considering Tolkien's later descriptions about how an Elf in Middle-earth will ultimately fade in the body -- the Elvish hroa (roughly translated as 'body') becoming invisible to mortal eyes in general -- if this is the result of great age, is there really a 'stage' in between where Elves look physically old?

And if so how long does this stage last? Cirdan is described as...


Quote
'Very tall he was, and his beard was long, and he was grey and old, save that his eyes were keen as stars;...'



Again I admit the full context implies Cirdan looked old, but perhaps he did not look old beyond his 'grey' hair and long beard? Celeborn had silver hair for example, so did Cirdan.


Quote

Elwe himself had indeed long and beautiful hair of silver hue, but this does not seem to have been a common feature of the Sindar, though it was found among them occasionally, especially in the nearer or remoter kin of Elwe (as in the case of Círdan).

JRRT Quendi And Eldar, The War of the Jewels





Could this explain the 'grey' part in The Lord of the Rings. Maybe he had silvery 'grey' hair.



Quote

'The hair of Olwe was long and white, and his eyes were blue; but the hair of Elwe was grey as silver, and his eyes were as stars;...'

JRRT, Morgoth's Ring




Elwe has 'grey' hair -- ok grey as silver, but still we have the word grey here -- and his eyes were as stars. Cirdan has silver hair, and was 'grey and old, save that his eyes were keen as stars.' Shave the beard, maybe dye the hair, Cirdan would still be old, but would he look old?

OK I'm reaching! I don't care if there is some stage with old looking Elves. If so, fine...

... I just think it's a little odd that in Morgoth's Ring, where Tolkien delves into certain ways an Elf might be said to age over time, he yet doesn't seem to suggest his Elves will look old before 'fading' in Middle-earth. It seems to me an odd thing to (seemingly) 'forget' to mention, if so.

Or maybe Tolkien thought it should be obvious enough... given Cirdan Smile


(This post was edited by Elthir on Sep 7 2012, 3:52pm)


Noel Q. von Schneiffel
Rivendell


Sep 7 2012, 4:21pm

Post #16 of 39 (1463 views)
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Living at the coast [In reply to] Can't Post

Do not forget that Celeborn lived in a climatically sheltered forest, whilst Cirdan had always been living at the ocean coast. Maybe he had simply eroded in the salty air.



The Glorious Truth of J.R.R. Tolkien
Radiates from his Holy Writings


http://www.tolkientruth.info/


DanielLB
Immortal


Sep 7 2012, 4:29pm

Post #17 of 39 (1345 views)
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You of course meant weathered [In reply to] Can't Post

Unless Cirdan skinny-dipped. Wink


Noel Q. von Schneiffel
Rivendell


Sep 7 2012, 4:44pm

Post #18 of 39 (1353 views)
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I don't think I'd like to see... [In reply to] Can't Post

...the photographic proof of that.

But seriously, is there a difference in meaning? Erosion happens from wind too, doesn't it?



The Glorious Truth of J.R.R. Tolkien
Radiates from his Holy Writings


http://www.tolkientruth.info/


DanielLB
Immortal


Sep 7 2012, 5:11pm

Post #19 of 39 (1420 views)
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My degree in Geography isn't wasted!! [In reply to] Can't Post

Hurray!

Erosion is (basically) the removal of solids from a source by wind, water, ice etc.

Weathering is (basically) the decomposition of rock, from biological, physical and chemical activity.

My supervisor would be proud.


Elthir
Gondor

Sep 7 2012, 5:40pm

Post #20 of 39 (1395 views)
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See salt [In reply to] Can't Post

But can't sea salt be used to preserve some things? This is very confusing.


DanielLB
Immortal


Sep 7 2012, 5:57pm

Post #21 of 39 (1283 views)
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Sea water only has about 3% salt in it / [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Elthir
Gondor

Sep 7 2012, 6:40pm

Post #22 of 39 (1362 views)
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But there's a lot of water... [In reply to] Can't Post

... in sea water. So couldn't you get plenty of salt to preserve, say, an Elf between 6 1/2 to 7 feet tall?


DanielLB
Immortal


Sep 7 2012, 7:10pm

Post #23 of 39 (1282 views)
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Mining salt from rock might be easier ;-) / [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Noel Q. von Schneiffel
Rivendell


Sep 7 2012, 7:16pm

Post #24 of 39 (1312 views)
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I see now [In reply to] Can't Post

So if a sharp breeze from the sea ripped little pieces off Cirdan, then that would be erosion? Tongue



The Glorious Truth of J.R.R. Tolkien
Radiates from his Holy Writings


http://www.tolkientruth.info/


DanielLB
Immortal


Sep 7 2012, 7:23pm

Post #25 of 39 (1337 views)
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Erosion and weathering! [In reply to] Can't Post

The wind would rip off his beard, while the salt would get into all his nooks and crannies, weathering him from the inside.

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