CotW, Silmarillion Ch XII, Of Men

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Troels Forchhammer

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Apr 10, 2006, 6:15:15 AM4/10/06
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Chapter of the Week, /The Silmarillion/, Quenta Silmarillion ch. 12
'Of Men'

This post is a chapter introduction in the Tolkien newsgroups'
'Chapter
of the Week' (CotW) project. See also the message 'CotW Scedule'.


Chapter 12 -- 'Of Men'

'Of Men' this chapter is named, but that is only half the truth,
because great parts of this is not about Men at all, or only about
Men
by contrast ('this is what Men are /not/'). Despite that, the chapter
is still a very short one (I am afraid that this post is considerably
longer than the chapter it introduces), reflecting the truth that is
stated within, 'Of Men little is told in these tales;' well, of Men
little is told even in this chapter, which bears our Name.

The chapter owes the most to the chapter in the LQ2 with the same
name, which is described in HoMeXI by the changes made to the QS. The
published text follows the source fairly well over most of the text
with some cuts and re-arrangements. The second paragraph, however,
is,
with the exception of one sentence, taken from the Grey Annals.


Synopsis

The Valar have retreated after giving light, and despite the
protestations in the preceding chapter, at this point they seem to do
as Fëanor said 'in the folly of his heart', sit idle in grief. Except
Ulmo, of course, who at least gathers intelligence about Middle-
earth.[1]

When the Sun arose there starts a new chronology, counting 'the Years
of the Sun',[2] where life awaken from the Sleep of Yavanna, and, as
we
learn, with the first Sunrise awoke also the race of Men[3], and we
hear of the names this new race was given by the Eldar[4].

No Vala or Valië appears to guide this new race, much less to invite
them over for a spell of peace and ennoblement. The Men, possibly in
consequence, have feared rather than loved and understood the Valar
and
been 'at variance with them, and at strife with the world.'[5] Ulmo
again is the exception[6] who tries to aid the new race through his
omni-aqua-presence, but as usual 'the Nightfearers' don't understand
(but at least they learned to love water).[7]

At this point, we're told, Morgoth, having just recently come back
and
being still confounded by the new lights (Sun and Moon), hadn't
extended his influence to Hildórien,[8] so our ancestors could walk
about in peace and joy.[9]

Good times, however, never last, and 'now the time drew on to the
Great
Wars of the Power of the North' -- though I thought that the first
battle of the Beleriandric wars had already taken place under the
stars?[10]

Going back to the Elves, we learn how the the Noldor, who had lived
in
Aman, were as much above the Dark Elves (/not/ the Sindar, but the
other Dark Elves) as they again were above Men. Just to put us in our
right place here ;) Oh, and the exception of the Sindar is here
attributed to Melian who, being a Maia, was apparently capable of
lifting her subjects to a near-Calaquendi state (I suppose that
Thingol
also had a hand in this, but we don't hear).

We learn a bit more about Elven immortality[11] and the relation
between their spirits and bodies (Fëar and Hröar to use the Quenya
words),[12] and hear that the bodies of Men (just as is the case for
their spirits and minds) are weaker, or 'more frial' than those of
the
Elves, and that nothing is known about what happens to Men after
death,
'the fate of Men after death, maybe, is no in the hands of the Valar,
nor was all foretold in the Music of the Ainur.'[13]

We end this chapter at a foretelling note explaining how Men and
Elves
would eventually grow estranged,[14], but at first they would be
allies, and there would be the Peredhil.


Questions and notes:

[1] Another of these convoluted sentences that occasionally makes
Tolkien challenging to read (at least for this non-native
speaker)
Most in mind Ulmo kept the exiles, who gathered news of
the Earth through all the waters.
This, for me, parses to,
Ulmo kept the exiles (the Noldor) most in mind (of all
the Valar), and he (Ulmo) also gathered news of the
(Middle-)earth through all the waters (as he was somehow
'present' in all water in Arda).

[2] Regarding the passage about the Years of the Sun:
From this time forth were reckoned the Years of the
Sun. Swifter and briefer are they than the long Years of
the Trees in Valinor. In that time the air of
Middle-earth became heavy with the breath of growth and
mortality, and the changing and ageing of all things was
hastened exceedingly; [...].
In particular the idea that the change in chronology didn't just
affect the mere counting of passing time, but that the actual
effect
of passing time is changed as well -- the rate of change is
quicker,
as is the ageing of 'all things'.
This idea can be traced at least from the early version of the
Annals of Valinor [AV1] (HoMe IV, 'The Shaping of Middle-earth',
part VI). In the AV series, the idea is augmented by the
information
that the effect of time was affected both in Valinor and in
Middle-earth, but most in Middle-earth.
Now measured time came into the world, and the growth,
changing, and ageing of all things was hereafter more
swift, even in Valinor, but most swift in the Hither
Lands upon Middle-earth, [...]
Now, having established that this idea was part of Tolkien's
conception of the changes due to the time of the Sun and Moon, we
might look around for possible effects of this.
+ The Rings of Power:
The chief power (of all the rings alike) was the
prevention or slowing of decay (i.e. 'change' viewed as a
regrettable thing), the preservation of what is desired
or loved, or its semblance - this is more or less an
Elvish motive.
[Letter #131 To Milton Waldman, probably late 1951]
The construction of the Rings of Power seems to me closely
associated with a wish to return to a different pace of change and
ageing -- the pace the Elves had known before the first rise of the
Sun.
+ There were comments about the long eye-gazing of Thingol and
Melian
in the woods of Nan Elmoth, and though it might still be very much
out of the ordinary, it may not be quite as miraculous as it
appears
at first.
It seems reasonable to me, as an initial hypothesis, to use the
idea that one Year of the Sun brought as much change and ageing as
one Year of the Trees. In that case the period of staring is
effectively reduced to 22 years, which, recalling the control of
the
Elvish Fëa over the Hröa, might be acceptable without resorting to
extremes.
+ Finally this might also explain why the pacing of the story
doesn't seem to change all that much (recall, for instance, the
flight of the Noldor lasting more than a whole year of the Trees).

[3] You know -- I don't really recall why I made this note . . . I
probably wanted to discuss the time, place or manner of the
awakening
of the Atani ;)
CT comments on the placement of Hildórien in his commentary to
the
LQ version of this chapter, beginning
The placing of Hildórien 'in the uttermost East of
Middle-earth that lies beside the eastern sea' was
changed to; 'in the midmost parts of Middle-earth beyond
the Great River and the Inner Sea, in regions which
neither the Eldar nor the Avari have known'.
In the published version, CT obviously chose to go with the older
version, placing Hildórien in 'in the eastward regions of
Middle-earth', though his wording is vaguer than JRRT's 'uttermost
East' or 'East of East'.

[4] The names the Elves gave to Men -- nice cousins, eh? The Children
of the Sun doesn't seem all that bad until you consider what the
Sun
must have meant to the Star-people. The After-born is, of course,
just factually correct, but it is still kind of rubbing their nose
with it, just as is Fírimar, the Mortals. And of course the Sickly,
Usurpers, Strangers, Self-cursed, Heavy-handed, and the
Night-fearers are all kind of rude . . .
Regarding Fírimar, the Mortals, there is a note about this in
Quendi and Eldar (HoMe XI, /The War of the Jewels/, part 4):
They were then called Firyar 'Mortals', or Fírimar of
similar sense (literally 'those apt to die'). (Note 20,
p. 412)
Author's note 20:
That is, to die by nature, of age or weariness, and
inevitably, not only (as the Elves) of some grievous hurt
or sorrow.
There was a discussion a while back as to whether Dwarves were
Mortals or Immortals, and I think this definition of 'Mortal'
supports that Dwarves are indeed also to be counted as 'Mortal',
and
that this is not related to the (eventual) destiny of their Fëa.

[5] Concerning the relationship between Men and Ainur:
[...] Men have feared the Valar, rather than loved them,
and have not understood the purposes of the Powers, being
at variance with them, and at strife with the world.
These are quite harsh words -- surprisingly hars, to my ears. What
was Tolkien's meaning here? Is man-kind really 'at variance' with
the powers of Good, and 'at strife with the world'? Is this
thematically related to the statement already in BoLT1, 'The Music
of the Ainur' (LT1-II)?
Yet the Ainur say that the thought of Men is at times a
grief even to Ilúvatar; wherefore if the giving of that
gift of freedom was their envy and amaze- ment, the
patience of Ilúvatar at its misuse is a matter of the
greatest marvelling to both Gods and Fairies.

[6] Ulmo is not only the Vala concerns himself most with the exiled
Noldor, but also the only one to concern himself with the Atani. In
many ways Ulmo seems to me to be, for the peoples in Middle-earth,
the most important of the Valar -- the only one to really concern
himself with their fates.

[7] 'Therefore they loved the waters, and their hearts were
stirred,'
it says. I am reminded of how we put a conch to the ear to 'listen
to the sea'. And yes, I, too, love the sound of water.

[8] We hear here of how Morgoth was preoccupied, and didn't have time
to concern himself with the Atani for a while, yet in chapter 17,
'Of the Coming of Men into the West', we learn the following (in
the
Grey Annals dated to the Year of the Sun 60):
But it was said afterwards among the Eldar that when
Men awoke in Hildórien at the rising of the Sun the spies
of Morgoth were watchful, and tidings were soon brought
to him; and this seemed to him so great a matter that
secretly under shadow he himself departed from Angband,
and went forth into Middle-earth, [...]
In the 'Athrabeth Finrod and Andreth', actually in the appendix,
/The Tale of Adanel/, is told about the first time after Men awoke
in Hildórien:
Some say the Disaster happened at the beginning of the
history of our people, before any had yet died. The Voice
had spoken to us, and we had listened. The Voice said:
'Ye are my children. I have sent you to dwell here. In
time ye will inherit all this Earth, but first ye must be
children and learn. Call on me and I shall hear; for I am
watching over you.'
[...]
Then one appeared among us, in our own form visible,
but greater and more beautiful; and he said that he had
come out of pity. 'Ye should not have been left alone and
uninstructed,' he said. 'The world is full of marvellous
riches which knowledge can unlock.
Hmm -- when I started out on this, I thought there was some
discrepancy, but that appears to have been lost somewhere along the
way ;-)

[9] 'There was little peril [...], when every leaf is green.' I
suppose that I am not the only one to get a strong paradisiac
impression about this -- this /is/ the Garden of Eden.

[10] We've heard how 'the Elves came in force [...], and fought the
first battle in the Wars of Beleriand,' and the first battles
fought
by the Fëanorians also preceded the first rise of the Sun, so how
could the time draw on 'to the great wars of the powers of the
North
[...]' after Men had awoken -- it seems to me that those great wars
had already started ;)

[11] Regarding Elven immortality, Tolkien entertained several ideas
about how this unnatural seriality was to come about.
The version we're used to from the Silmarillion, where the Elven
Fëa is rehoused in a new body, identical to the one it had left
(the
Fëa retaining a memory of its Hröa) came from a rather late source,
The Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth -- more precisely the appendix,
/The
Converse of Manwë and Eru/, in which Manwë addresses Eru on the
occasion of Míriel's death, and then learns that the Valar must
create a new body for the spirit when it is ready to be rehoused,
and from the 'Glorfindel' essays found in the 'Last Writings'
section of PoMe (HoMe XII). In the texts about the Doom of Finwë
and
Míriel, /Laws and Customs among the Eldar/, the default is for the
spirit to reincarnate through a new child-birth (except if the
former body was still whole and sound, which pretty much limits it
to Míriel). The concept of reincarnation through rebirth into their
own children had been present, with variations (see e.g. below),
since BoLT, but was finally discarded, as far as I can discover,
about 1959/-60.

[12] There's a passage cut out from the text of narrative series
(BoLT-Q-QS-LQ1-LQ2) text at this point, explaining how the Elven
immortality worked, how they could die, but would then go back to
the halls of Mandos, and how they could thence be
'recalled at length to freedom, either as spirits, taking
form according to their own thought, as the lesser folk
of the divine race; or else, it is said, they are at
times re-born into their own children, and the ancient
wisdom of their folk does not perish or grow less.'
This concept of havning Elven Fëar go about unclad or self-arrayed
as the Maiar apparently entered into the story in the QS, but was
apparently not deleted in the LQ series.

[13] Does anyone have a good suggestion as to what really happens to
the spirits of Men after death?

[14] This triumph of Morgoth (because of which 'and Men became
estranged'): as this was obviously not a military triumph being
forshadowed, I assume this refers to the Marring of Arda in
general,
and to the mistrust and other results of his early Marring of Men
in
particular.


Comments:

Regarding the timing of the awakening of the Atani:
The March of the Eldar is through great Rains? Men awake
in an Isle amid the floods and therefore welcome the Sun
which seems to come out of the East. Only when the world
is drier do they leave the Isle and spread abroad.
[...]
The coming of Men will therefore be much further back.
This will be better; for a bare 400 years is quite
inadequate to produce the variety, and the advancement
(e.g. of the Edain) at the time of Felagund.
[MT-II, HoMeX, /Morgoth's Ring/ part 5]
In other of the MT texts there is also the idea that Orcs were bred
from Men before Morgoth's return to Middle-earth, but in this case
it is, of course, not before the rising of the Sun, as the Sun
preceded even the Two Trees.
This later conception obviously has the advantage of allowing the
Atani much more time to develop and spread out in Middle-earth
before they arrive in Beleriand -- that is one aspect that has
always seemed to me problematic: that there should be only 400
years
between the first awakening of Men in Hildórien (and less than that
from Morgoth visited them in Hildórien: something which seems
implied also in the myths of the Edain) and their appearance in
Beleriand by more or less natural diffusion (with just a bit of
guidance, probably, from Avari).

Regarding the Mortality of Men:
The /Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth/ is essentially a conversation
between Finrod and the wise woman, Andreth, of the House of Bëor
about the natures of Quendi and Atani. One of the surprising
concepts introduced in this text is the idea, presented by Andreth,
that Men were also, by their original nature, meant to be immortal.
'Yet among my people, from Wise unto Wise out of the
darkness, comes the voice saying that Men are not now as
they were, nor as their true nature was in their
beginning. And clearer still is this said by the Wise of
the People of Marach, who have preserved in memory a name
for Him that ye call Eru, though in my folk He was almost
forgotten. So I learn from Adanel. They say plainly that
Men are not by nature short-lived, but have become so
through the malice of the Lord of the Darkness whom they
do not name.'
Finrod appears sceptical, and doesn't really believe this story. In
the words of JRRT's commentary to the text:
He therefore guesses that it is the fear of death that
is the result of the disaster. It is feared because it
now is combined with severance of hröa and fëa. But the
fëar of Men must have been designed to leave Arda
willingly or indeed by desire - maybe after a longer time
than the present average human life, but still in a time
very short compared with Elvish lives.
I wonder, what would be the status of this idea when the text was
written? Did Tolkien intend it, the whole time, as a misconception;
a 'human misrepresentation of their own tradition', or did he at
some point during the writing actually intend this to be true? And
how, if at all, would this be related to the general
transformations
of the mythology at this time? (from Elven reincarnation to the
fundamental cosmology).

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

Thus, the future of the universe is not completely
determined by the laws of science, and its present state,
as Laplace thought. God still has a few tricks up his
sleeve.
- Stephen Hawking

Count Menelvagor

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Apr 12, 2006, 11:41:57 PM4/12/06
to

Troels Forchhammer wrote:
> Chapter of the Week, /The Silmarillion/, Quenta Silmarillion ch. 12
> 'Of Men'
>
> This post is a chapter introduction in the Tolkien newsgroups'
> 'Chapter
> of the Week' (CotW) project. See also the message 'CotW Scedule'.
> [4] The names the Elves gave to Men -- nice cousins, eh? The Children
> of the Sun doesn't seem all that bad until you consider what the
> Sun
> must have meant to the Star-people. The After-born is, of course,
> just factually correct, but it is still kind of rubbing their nose
> with it, just as is Fírimar, the Mortals. And of course the Sickly,
> Usurpers, Strangers, Self-cursed, Heavy-handed, and the
> Night-fearers are all kind of rude . . .

elves are cads.

> [13] Does anyone have a good suggestion as to what really happens to
> the spirits of Men after death?

they dance the rhumba.

i think he did intend it to be true. it's been quite a while since i
read the athrabeth, but my recollection is that it's one of tolkien's
more explicitly xtian writings (the "old hope"). xtianity teaches that
man was oiriginally intended to be immortal, but became mortal with the
fall (the "disaster" alluded to above). this view cconflicts somewhat
with the ida of death as the "gift" that is found elsewhere.

as i recall, tolkien wrote some stories of the fall in MR, the sme
volume that contains the athrabeth. tolkien seems to have become
concerned that the middle-earth mythos wasn't "true" (hence also the
sun and moon thing).

Jamie Andrews; real address @ bottom of message

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Apr 13, 2006, 9:45:30 AM4/13/06
to
Thanks Troels.

In rec.arts.books.tolkien Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@thisisfake.invalid> wrote:
> [5] Concerning the relationship between Men and Ainur:
> [...] Men have feared the Valar, rather than loved them,
> and have not understood the purposes of the Powers, being
> at variance with them, and at strife with the world.
> These are quite harsh words -- surprisingly hars, to my ears. What
> was Tolkien's meaning here? Is man-kind really 'at variance' with
> the powers of Good, and 'at strife with the world'? Is this
> thematically related to the statement already in BoLT1, 'The Music
> of the Ainur' (LT1-II)?

I think that while JRRT did not believe in the literal
truth of the Adam/Eve/snake story in the Bible, he did not want
to write anything that explicitly denied it or offered an
alternative story. To be consistent with the Bible, Mankind
must come out of its early days with Original Sin, which is what
I think he is alluding to here. But the closest he comes to
openly supporting the Bible story is the passage that you quote
from the Athrabeth:

> Some say the Disaster happened at the beginning of the
> history of our people, before any had yet died. The Voice
> had spoken to us, and we had listened. The Voice said:
> 'Ye are my children. I have sent you to dwell here. In
> time ye will inherit all this Earth, but first ye must be
> children and learn. Call on me and I shall hear; for I am
> watching over you.'
> [...]
> Then one appeared among us, in our own form visible,
> but greater and more beautiful; and he said that he had
> come out of pity. 'Ye should not have been left alone and
> uninstructed,' he said. 'The world is full of marvellous
> riches which knowledge can unlock.

> [13] Does anyone have a good suggestion as to what really happens to

> the spirits of Men after death?

Again, I think JRRT did not want to write anything that
contradicted Christian doctrine, so he kept mostly silent on
this point in his own writings. In any case, according to
Christian doctrine, the "full truth" of what happens to the
spirits of Men after death was not revealed until the time of
Christ, and Silm is supposed to take place in a pre-Christian
world. (Though I have to be careful here... not being 100%
Christian myself, I sometimes make mistakes when trying to
describe Christian doctrine.)

--Jamie. (efil4dreN)
andrews .uwo } Merge these two lines to obtain my e-mail address.
@csd .ca } (Unsolicited "bulk" e-mail costs everyone.)

Christopher Kreuzer

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Apr 18, 2006, 12:18:46 PM4/18/06
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

<snip>

> Chapter 12 -- 'Of Men'

> (I am afraid that this post is considerably


> longer than the chapter it introduces)

<sniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip>

Um. Yes!

I'm most impressed by the length of that post. But that means, of
course, that it will take me at least two weeks to read, cogitate,
digest and then reply... :-)

Well, actually, the real reason is that I won't be able to post for a
few weeks, but I thought this was an interesting way of communicating
that rather boring detail...

Christopher

--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard

Troels Forchhammer

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Apr 18, 2006, 5:11:43 PM4/18/06
to
In message <news:Gj81g.55337$wl.4...@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
>
> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
>>
>> Chapter 12 -- 'Of Men'
>
>> (I am afraid that this post is considerably longer than the
>> chapter it introduces)
>
> <sniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip>
>
> Um. Yes!

Rather ;)

I just tried to count words -- 3078 in the introductory post vs. 1129
in the chapter . . . LOL!

All I can say is, at least I got the synopsis done in 461 words; less
than half the actual chapter.

> I'm most impressed by the length of that post.

I'm afraid I got a bit carried away -- I only hope that the signal-
to-noise ratio isn't too bad :-/

> But that means, of course, that it will take me at least two weeks
> to read, cogitate, digest and then reply... :-)

;)

> Well, actually, the real reason is that I won't be able to post
> for a few weeks, but I thought this was an interesting way of
> communicating that rather boring detail...

Just you wait and see when you get back -- all the catching up you'll
have to do (although, admittedly, it's been rather quiet here over
Easter, so perhaps it'll be manageable).

Good luck with whatever it is that will keep you away from us.

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

The soul may be a mere pretence,
the mind makes very little sense.
So let us value the appeal
of that which we can taste and feel.
- Piet Hein, /A Toast/

Christopher Kreuzer

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Apr 30, 2006, 8:11:18 AM4/30/06
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

<snip>

> Good luck with whatever it is that will keep you away from us.

Thanks. It was actually a holiday, but a very nice one. I'm now ready to
tackle some more Silmarillion CotW posts!

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