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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
**LotR Discussion: The Title Page and the Ring Poem**
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Oct 22 2007, 4:11am

Post #76 of 81 (121 views)
doom [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree that part of this does show Tolkien's love of alliterative poetry but it does also give us a clue about the different fates that govern elves and men. The immortal/mortal dicotomy is not immediately apparent in the story. It's more like a shadow that lies over the interactions the elves have with other races. The reference to mortal men doomed to die ties in nicely when the orgins of the "undying" Nazgul are explained. I also liked kdgard’s point about the different definitions of “doom”. Mortality was not supposed to be a bad thing but a gift from Iluvatar. But thanks to the Dark Power that Sauron was a servant of, death became something to fear and avoid.


Oct 22 2007, 4:45am

Post #77 of 81 (131 views)
The weakness of Men [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Saelind! Concerning the gift of Iluvatar, you said, "But thanks to the Dark Power that Sauron was a servant of, death became something to fear and avoid." I think that is part of it. The influence of Sauron and his big, bad boss, Morgoth, had that effect on Men, but it also is a testimony to the weakness of Men. The reason the Dark Lords had such an influence on Men is because Men were so easily influenced in the first place. This weakness seems to be a common theme in the history of Men in Middle-Earth. Take Numenor as an example. It was given to the Edain as a reward for the services of Men in the War against Morgoth. Men were already given the gift of Iluvatar, and now they were given an island paradise, second only to Valinar, and the Numenorians were also given extremely long lifespans. The only restriction was that they couldn't sail any farther west towards the Undying Lands than to within sight of the Western shore of Numenor. So, Numenor is very much like The Garden Of Eden; a paradise with a condition. Unfortunately, the weakness of Men shown through and the Numenorians decided they wanted more than the considerable gifts they already possessed and they broke the Ban of the Valar. Now, Sauron had a large part in fanning the embers of that rebellion into flames, but he was merely exploiting a weakness that already existed. I don't know. Am I being too hard on Mankind?



Oct 22 2007, 12:32pm

Post #78 of 81 (132 views)
weakness [In reply to] Can't Post

Man's weakness is a consequence of their "fall from grace" which happens off-stage so as not to interfere with the Genesis account. Also, Morgoth "tainted" all of Arda so the tendency towards evil is woven into the fabric of creation. Hard to overcome all that without outside help..


Oct 22 2007, 2:06pm

Post #79 of 81 (129 views)
The doom of Men [In reply to] Can't Post

The only place where Tolkien explicitly discusses the Doom of Men is in the Tale of Adenel, which is part of the commentary to the Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth, in Morgoth's Ring.

To summarize, in this Tale, before the early Humans ever experienced Death, they heard a Voice (that of Eru), but it refused to answer their questions, basically saying "don't try to grow up too fast." But then Melkor appeared to them in fair form, and gave them many gifts and seemed to teach them many things. Melkor taught them that the Voice was the voice of Darkness, and taught them to fear the Voice. Then they worshipped Melkor and he made them bow down to him, and brought few gifts and taught no longer. And the Voice only was heard once more, stating

Ye have abjured Me, but ye remain Mine. I gave you life. Now it shall be shortened, and each of you in a little while shall come to Me, to learn who is your Lord: the one ye worship, or I who made him.

And then humans began to die. But Melkor was not displeased, and told them that if they did not do his will, they would die all the sooner, by his hand. All things turned against Man, the Earth and Fire and Water, and they were afflicted by weariness and hunger and sickness. They yearned for their previous life, but continued to do Melkor's bidding, to avoid his wrath. But some openly stated that it was Melkor who was the Darkness, not the Voice, and declared him their Enemy. These few were slain, or hunted down and burned alive, and a few Men grew strong and cruel, and had great favor from Melkor. And the few of those who declared Melkor the Enemy that escaped

came at last to the land's end and the shores of the impassable water;and behold! the Enemy was there before them.

This Tale should not be properly thought of as part of the Athrabeth. Tolkien makes it clear (in Note 9, which discusses this Tale), "that Andreth was actually unwilling to say more" then is told in the Athrabeth proper. He says that "[l]onger recensions of the Athrabeth, evidently edited under Numenorean influence, make her give, under pressure, a more precise answer (about the nature of the Disaster that resulted in Man becoming Mortal). He points out that this Tale is explicitly a Tale of the House of Hador, and that the Numenorians "were largely, and their non-Elvish traditions mainly, derived from the People of Marach, of whom the House of Hador were the chieftains."

The idea of this tale being part of a version of the Athrabeth "edited under Numenorian influence" sets up an intriguing possibility. The Numenorian's obsession with Death is of course well documented. I find the thought that this Tale of Death being imposed on Man by Eru as a punishment for worshipping Melkor being a creation of the Numenorians in their obsession with Death to be quite compelling. I can easily picture the Numenoreans in exile in Middle-earth who "made tombs more splendid than houses of the living, and counted old names in the rolls of their descent dearer than the names of their sons" creating this legend as a way of explaining that they never should have been "cursed" with Death in the first place.

But just as soon as Tolkien raises this intriguing possibility, he largely shoots it down, and then replaces it with any even more intriguing possibility.

The legend bears certain resemblances to the Numenorean traditions concerning the part played by Sauron in the downfall of Numenor. But this does not prove that it is entirely a fiction of post-downfall days. It is no doubt mainly derived from actual lore of the People of Marach, quite independent of the Athrabeth [Added note: Nothing is hereby asserted concerning its 'truth', historical or otherwise.] The operations of Sauron naturally and inevitably resembled or repeated those of his master. That a people in possession of such a legend or tradition should have later been deluded by Sauron is sad but, in view of human history generally, not incredible.

So it is clear that this Tale should be thought of as part of independent tradition from the Athrabeth, and not really considered to be Andreth's actual words, nor should it be considered a "true" story. What I find most intriguing (okay, second most intriguing) about this passage is the suggestion that it makes that the particular flaw that Sauron was able to tap into to cause the downfall of the Numenorians existed already in the specific ancestors of the Numenorians, the House of Hador, the chief members of whom (Hurin Thalion and Turin Turumbar) were particularly cursed by Melkor. It makes the story of the Numenorians all the more complex and compelling.

But what I truly find most intriguing about this how insightful it is that about some basic facets of human nature. As Tolkien stated:

Indeed if fish had fish-lore and Wise-fish, it is probable that the business of anglers would be very little hindered.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

(This post was edited by Voronwë_the_Faithful on Oct 22 2007, 2:09pm)

N.E. Brigand

Jan 17 2008, 4:38am

Post #80 of 81 (151 views)
Glorfindel calls Sauron "the Lord of the Rings". [In reply to] Can't Post

Just a footnote to this old thread, to which FarfromHome might return in three weeks when she leads the discussion of "The Council of Elrond": Glorfindel says that if the Ring were sent to Bombadil, "soon or late the Lord of the Rings would learn of its hiding place". I had completely forgotten that use of the name.

We're discussing The Lord of the Rings in the Reading Room, Oct. 15, 2007 - Mar. 22, 2009!

Join us Jan. 14-20 for "A Knife in the Dark".


Jan 17 2008, 10:34am

Post #81 of 81 (142 views)
Interesting!/ [In reply to] Can't Post


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