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The Elves' Ages


Feb 17 2013, 1:56pm

Post #1 of 19 (1262 views)
The Elves' Ages Can't Post

I was wondering if there is any elves with stated age? Also if not what is your theories on the aging (or non aging that is) regarding elves?
I supposed it would depend on whether there's talk about book verse or movie verse though.
Going by movie verse for starters then, elves are immortal so they don't age, but obviously they got to stop aging at one point as various elven actors are of different ages.
Like Hugo (Elrond) being in his 50s while Cate (Galadriel) is in her 40s, then you got Lee (Thranduil) who's in his 30s.

All playing high ranked elves.

I'm trying not to loose my trail here Laugh Anyway do you have any theories of the elves' ages, how they age and such? When is an elf considered adult? Fit to be a leader?

I'll just... I'll just go now... -scurries off-

(This post was edited by CathrineB on Feb 17 2013, 1:57pm)


Feb 17 2013, 3:38pm

Post #2 of 19 (898 views)
My version of book-verse Elves [In reply to] Can't Post

I've always imagined them more different from human, with a rather unworldly air, and I think they reach 'adulthood' and simply stop aging (so in theory there are no middle-aged Elves). So in my head, when I read the books they are always young-looking (like in people in their late twenties), but with immense wisdom in their eyes and extreme grace in their movements.

In the movies, they need real people to portray the Elves, so unfortunately the results can't be as impressive... Personally I would have liked slightly younger actors in the roles though...

Sorry -- that didn't really answer your question >_<


Feb 17 2013, 3:49pm

Post #3 of 19 (907 views)
Book-elves vs. movie-elves... [In reply to] Can't Post

Don't confuse the movies with the books. Tolkien's elves tend to look young throughout their lives (or at least to the last stage of elven maturity), their great age only showing in their eyes. Círdan of the White Council is described as very tall, with a long beard and looking old, but he was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth.

Tolkien only provided actual birth years for a few of his Elves; most of his prominent Elves were born in the First Age.

Elladan and Elrohir, twin sons of Elrond and Celebrían are born in T.A. 130.

Elrond's daughter Arwen Undómiel is born in 241.

Tolkien never assigned a birth year to Legolas, son of Thranduil Elvenking. Movie reference books have him born in T.A. 87, which probably isn't too far off.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Feb 17 2013, 3:52pm)


Feb 17 2013, 6:36pm

Post #4 of 19 (834 views)
I always wanted to see elf children. [In reply to] Can't Post

Kind of like how Gimli says everyone thinks dwarf women spring out of holes in the ground, I almost think the same about elves. In the movies, you have Elrond who looks older than all the other elves, who all look about the same age (i.e. stopped aging at the same age). But there are no children in Rivendell or Lorien, unlike the Shire, (where they are all over the place) and in Rohan and Gondor. I suppose that having kids running around messes with the general peacefulness and calm of the elf day, but it would be nice to see one in the background.

However, not seeing elf children does make them seem that much more otherworldly.

Boromir Stark

Feb 17 2013, 8:27pm

Post #5 of 19 (807 views)
I like to think of it as outside elements playing a role in how old Elves look. [In reply to] Can't Post

Like grief and stress and pain.

That's why, though Galadriel is older, she looks younger than Elrond. Elrond fought on the front lines during the battles of the Last Alliance vs Sauron. He stood not far from Sauron and watched him bring down the King of Gondor, and almost slay Isildur. He then watched Isildur betray Middle-Earth and keep the ring.

These experiences would give Elrond painful memories, memories he would have to live with for three thousand years. The guy can't be blamed for not aging as well as other Elves.

Not that Galadriel hasn't seen her fair share, but you get my meaning.

(This post was edited by Boromir Stark on Feb 17 2013, 8:27pm)


Feb 17 2013, 9:03pm

Post #6 of 19 (777 views)
I imagine them the same way! [In reply to] Can't Post

Young in physical appearance and of course, the eyes show the real age and wisdom.

" He has just as much reason to go to war as you do. Why can he not fight for those he loves?"


Feb 17 2013, 9:07pm

Post #7 of 19 (783 views)
grief [In reply to] Can't Post

I think Galadriel had as much grief as Elrond. Her entire familie died, her daughter was tortured and in the end she would loose her home. I don´t think Elrond looks old in the books and in the movie it´s just that they chose an old looking actor.

For elves aging in general, they age until they are 50 years old, they then come of age and they would look the rest of their lives that way. Their only way of aging is fading, but only in ME it seems.

'As the weight of the years, with all their changes of desire and thought, gathers upon the spirit of the Eldar, so do the impulses and moods of their bodies change. This the Eldar mean when hey speak of their spirits consuming them;

Aragalen the Green

Feb 18 2013, 3:24am

Post #8 of 19 (736 views)
pain [In reply to] Can't Post

Galadriel, along with the Elves left behind by Feanor, crossed the Grinding Ice after Feanor had burned the ships. Many died on that journey. Galadriel looks pretty darn good (at least in the movie) after all she has endured. Wink

'"Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!" he said to himself, and it became a favourite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb.'


Feb 18 2013, 4:23am

Post #9 of 19 (779 views)
Elven Appearances [In reply to] Can't Post

Galadriel is indeed older than Elrond but I always interpreted his older appearance to his human inheritance. Many of the half elves in the Silmarillion like Dior and Earendil are only around thirty years of age and have already matured enough to be considered independent adult elves. Full blooded elves it is implied take at least fifty years to mature physically and mentally. However Elladan and Elrohir along with Arwen are 3/4 elven mostly with some minuscule Maiar blood so they appear just as youthful and elven as the others portrayed.

We do see some movie elves like Gil-galad and Elrond looking less perfect and embodying the elven ideal. Perhaps this could be attributed to Noldor being less beautiful than other kindreds? Or stress has indeed aged Elrond and Gil-galad for having contended with Sauron and watching Eregion burn to ruin.

Cirdan we must remember is far older than Galadriel and Tolkien said the eldest of Elves can even grow a beard just as Cirdan is described. I believe it was mentioned that Cirdan belongs to the same generation as Elwe Thingol and Finwe. He is portrayed in the movies as beardless but definitely older than the majority of the elves.

Grey Havens

Feb 18 2013, 5:48pm

Post #10 of 19 (722 views)
Elf-child to adult [In reply to] Can't Post

The notion that it took about 50 (or for some 100) years for an Elf-child to becomes an adult is only part of the story in my opinion.

It seems in the later 1950s Tolkien imagined that (this is my interpretation based on the texts Aman, the Athrabeth, and Laws and Customs all published in Morgoth's Ring): in their beginning in Middle-earth, it took roughly 3000 years for an Elf Child to grow to be an Elf-man or Elf-woman, or around 21 yéni.

A yén is an Elvish Long Year equal to 144 Sun Years, as noted in The Return of the King and as used by Galadriel. This slow rate appears to have also been the case in Aman (see Aman for the text I'm basing this on). And in this conception, the Valian Year equals the Elvish yén, incidentally.

However Laws and Customs states that it took 50, and for some 100 years, for Elves to attain the body in which they would afterwards endure. This is obviously significantly lesser than 3000! Yet in the Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth, Finrod seems to say he notices the change of Elvish bodies is swifter -- in Middle-earth -- than it was in the beginning (and one of the texts here had 'growth' instead of 'change').

So despite the major difference in years, I'm wondering if these three texts possibly represent the same concept -- they appear to be written at about the same time (late 1950s or early 1960s) in any case.

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? At this point Tolkien might have also been thinking of a much greater amount of time between the awakening of the Elves and the return of the Noldor -- much greater than that imagined when one Valian Year was 'only' around 10-ish Sun Years -- which might help account for the drastic reduction in the Elvish maturity rate, allowing more years in which it could arguably occur in Arda Marred.

But that said, Tolkien appears to have dropped this idea in any case, as this...

(...) 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

... is dated to 1967-70, written after all the three texts I just noted here.

I tend to doubt all these ideas were intended to be part of the same conception -- that is, even the 50 or 100 had itself internally (within the story) later reduced to Elves growing at about the same rate as Men -- of if so, had this not happened yet by the time Elfwine was being instructed?

Wait... 'Elfwine'? Wink


Feb 19 2013, 2:38pm

Post #11 of 19 (666 views)
Lets not forget Cirdan was probabaly born at Cuivineien [In reply to] Can't Post

‘Before they ever came to Beleriand the Teleri had developed a craft of boat-making; first as rafts, and soon as light boats with paddles made in Imitation of the water-birds upon the lakes near their first homes, and later in the Great Journey in crossing rivers, or especially during their long tarrying on the shores on the ‘Sea of Rhűn’ where their ships became larger and stronger. But in all this work Círdan had ever been the foremost and most inventive and skilful…’

Cirdan was only a nickname he recieved after he started building the boats-his orginial name was said to be Nowe (similar to olwe) by the loremaster Pengolod, the real meaning of which was uncertain (perhaps no one was old enough to remember it) but was possibly realted to the word 'dream'. Cirdan was also leader of the elves that looked for Elwe when he was lost in the woods of Doriath, this together confirms to me at least that he was born at Cuivinien-to be chosen as a leader, reciving a nickname so early in the first age, and being a fully grown member of the eldar (dosen't it say somewhere that elves aged slowly in the years of the trees?) so early in the timeleine.

There is some pretty interesting stuff about him in Last Writings, The peoples of Middle Earth (H.O.M.E Volume 12)

Its a topic I've explored in much, much greater deatail in an old post on my blog if you are interested:


‘As they came to the gates Cirdan the Shipwright came forth to greet them. Very tall he was, and his beard was long, and we was grey and old, save that his eyes were keen as stars; and he looked at them and bowed, and said ‘All is now ready.’

Perhaps the most fascinating Individual in Middle Earth


Feb 19 2013, 3:06pm

Post #12 of 19 (636 views)
Wow that was one impressive blog post! [In reply to] Can't Post

I have always had a bit of a soft spot for Cirdan but your post makes me think even more highly of him, really good read Smile

Grey Havens

Feb 19 2013, 4:45pm

Post #13 of 19 (649 views)
Maybe this? [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
'... (dosen't it say somewhere that elves aged slowly in the years of the trees?) so early in the timeleine.

As noted in my post in this thread, the text Aman (Morgoth's Ring) seems to state that in their beginning in Middle-earth, it took roughly 3000 years for an Elf Child to grow to be an Elf-man or Elf-woman, or around 21 yéni. The idea seems to be that this remained the case in Aman, but we must remember that -- according to this concept anyway -- 1 Valian Year = 144 Sun Years (not roughly 10 as in other texts).

That said, as I noted above I think the suggestion is that the time it took for an Elf in Middle-earth to become an adult changed (lessened over time), so they began to reach adulthood faster in Middle-earth compared to Aman. When it changed and by how much, I don't know however.

And in any case the latest of these texts seems to suggest Tolkien abandoned all this for the notion of the Elves growing at much the same rate as Men. Thus now 20 or 21 Sun Years instead of 21 Elvish Long Years! which is a huge difference of course... or whatever number of years (if not 20 or 21) one imagines a Man or Woman reach physical adulthood I guess.

The idea that the Eldar grew at the same rate as Men is also suggested in a note in Unfinished Tales (with respect to the Numenoreans growing at the same rate as Men).


Feb 19 2013, 5:30pm

Post #14 of 19 (627 views)
Cirdan vs Treebeard [In reply to] Can't Post

Treebeard tells the hobbits that the Elves "woke them up" and taught them to speak, so the Elves came first. If Cirdan was one of the original Elves awakened at Cuivinien, it seems to me that he'd be the oldest living being in Middle-earth, though Treebeard gets that title somehow. No point in quibbling, it just seems that it should go to Cirdan.


Feb 20 2013, 9:19pm

Post #15 of 19 (619 views)
Ents [In reply to] Can't Post

I was thinking about this just the other day, and came up with an idea of how both could be true: that Ents were alive and sentient, but did not communicate until the Elves "awakened" them and taught them to speak; if so it might fit in with how the Dwarves were--living beings, but "put to sleep" so to speak, until the Elves were in existence.

After all, the Ents were Yavanna's as the Dwarves were her husband Aule's. So it would suit Tolkien's sense of parallelism if they had a similar background...

Just a bit of speculation...


Feb 20 2013, 10:04pm

Post #16 of 19 (615 views)
That does make good sense. Thanks.// [In reply to] Can't Post



Feb 23 2013, 5:03am

Post #17 of 19 (601 views)
I thought Arwen was the last elf born in Middle Earth [In reply to] Can't Post

or very close to it, which is part of the reason she is called UndĂłmiel, the Evenstar. And in the movie, they played this up, as it seemed that this was one of the reasons the vision of her potential child was so overwhelming to her and persuaded her to change her mind and stay.

In Reply To
Kind of like how Gimli says everyone thinks dwarf women spring out of holes in the ground, I almost think the same about elves. In the movies, you have Elrond who looks older than all the other elves, who all look about the same age (i.e. stopped aging at the same age). But there are no children in Rivendell or Lorien, unlike the Shire, (where they are all over the place) and in Rohan and Gondor. I suppose that having kids running around messes with the general peacefulness and calm of the elf day, but it would be nice to see one in the background.

However, not seeing elf children does make them seem that much more otherworldly.


Feb 23 2013, 4:25pm

Post #18 of 19 (578 views)
That would certainly explain it. [In reply to] Can't Post

I now think I remember reading that once, long ago, but obviously my desire to see cute elf children overrode my ability to remember any actual information. Thanks!


Feb 24 2013, 12:37am

Post #19 of 19 (678 views)
Arwen born last High Elf [In reply to] Can't Post

Somehow I doubt Arwen is last elf born in Middle Earth. What about all the Laiquendi and Nandor? Surely they not burdened by the grief of war and passing ages of darkness would not be in their twilight like the Noldor. Many of the so called Silvan elves are not even desiring the path to Valinor, the true West. In fact most like in Mirkwood are still full of merriment and enjoy the lands of Middle Earth yet. Arwen was born 2500 years before the events of LOTR and I would imagine some of the Nandor would be only a few hundred years old.


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