View Full Version : The unfriendliness of Elves

10-30-2001, 05:46 PM
From the First Age forward, Elves distanced themselves from Men, seemingly avoiding them where possible. The Elven settlement of Edhellond was not far from Gondor but there is no mention of commerce or communication. Elves travelled through the Shire regularly but avoided the Hobbits. Gildor says "The Elves have their own labours and sorrows, and they are little concerned with the ways of Hobbits, or of any other creatures on earth." What labours? Lindir says "Mortals have not been our study. We have other business." What other business?

Why did Elves distance themselves from Men?

Gwaihir the Windlord
10-30-2001, 10:39 PM
I also noticed that the Elves have usually been very frigid when it comes to dealing with Men. Perhaps the Three Rings are to blame.
The Rings sort of preserve time, right? And the lives of Men don't take up much time. Men die.
So, unwittingly, the Elves grow a sort of subconcious dislike for them. While they, becaause of the Rings, like to preserve things as they are, Men change rapidly and die and our civilisation grows and changes quickly, all the time. It is not preserving, as the Elves, perhaps unknowingly, would rather have.

10-31-2001, 01:39 AM
Perhaps they were resentful of men because of the coming "Dominion of Men" They loved Middle-Earth enough to stay there for so long but with the coming Fourth Age men would eclipse all other races, leaving no room for the Elves.

Labors and business? Preparing to leave? Holding onto what they still had, like Lothlorien? Doing things unknown like the Dunedain? Who knows.

10-31-2001, 04:27 AM
Elves are, not least due to their stay (at least of some leading persons of them) well aware of the privileges, abilities and attributes of their race. As Iluvatar is said to have put it, they are the 'fairest of all earthly creatures' (Silm, 1). No elf, even if he could be considered a rebel or be accused of nefarious deeds, would, on the other hand, see himself as truly evil. The majority of the elves remains unfallen, the others for the largest part had their reasons for their actions, too, even if they were directed against the Valar. The nobility, splendour and beauty of elves therefore is dialectical, both objectively – as concepted by Iluvatar and witnessed by the Ainur – and subjectively, manifested in their arrogance, longing for a changeless, status quo-preservation, and sometimes, their self-righteousness.

Likewise is the nature of Man, and how the elves see it. In the Silmarillion, Chapter 1, we have the straightforward sentence
'Yet the Elves believe that Men are often a grief to Manwë, […] for it seems to the Elves that Men resemble Melkor most of all the Ainur […]'.
Of course they are to a considerable degree right with that assumption, as only men ever had multitudes serving (more or less willingly, though) the Dark Lords. The understanding of nature, the way of life and the metaphysics which the elves possess both from their education in Valinor and also apparently intuitively, is not compatible with the actions of many of mankind.
Here the fate of men is also important to be taken into the scheme, as it poses not only one reason for their estranging from the elves, but also often serves as a logical explanation of the behaviour of Man, whose point of view is limited to their short lifespans and to a past traditioned rather in rows of ancestors and the tales of their doings than in actual memory as is the case with elves.

The question to what degree the emnity from the elves towards the Strangers is justified naturally arises. Of course, there is enough emnity working the other way round, as is shown in all three ages, be it the alliances of Easterlings with Morgoth, the mistrust of the men of the King of later Numenor towards the elves, or the image of Lothlorien we see in Rohan and Gondor. On the other hand, one would have to argumentate that the elves as the side which has more insight, and more foresight as well, may not exact likewise sentiments on the men as they do on them. With a differentiated approach, the actual emnity of the elves seems questionable. Protection from harm is justified, and sometimes it was not only the elves protecting themselves from men, but also them lending aid to them. The fact that military aid, for example, was practically always denied with the arguments that the elves had own affairs to deal with, even though they had previously received mortal reinforcements in likewise situations, is a different topic.
Conclusively, there are a good number of reasons for the elves mistrust of the Atani, and most of these reasons work the other way round, too. What justifications both sides have is something else; one might argue that the one who exacts more emnity would have to have the better reasons as well.

10-31-2001, 08:41 AM
Going back to the "Dominion of Men" issue plus the forsight of Elves, perhaps since Elves felt they weren't much longer for Middle-earth it wasn't their concern anymore. A feeling that struck me from most of the interactions with Elves in LoTR was a strong sense of forlorn especially in Lothlorien. If the Elves had gotten heavily involved in the war against the shadow it would have meant more death, devastation and perhaps ruin upon their land. Perhaps the dark lord giving most of his attention to Gondor suited the Elves well for, unlike men, previous wars against the shadow along with the misery associatied with them would be within living memory for many of them. Indeed it does sound a somewhat selfish stance but it is understandable. As Gwaihir mentioned the Elves liked to preserve beauty unchanging and most of their efforts on Middle-earth in the second and Third ages (despite leaving) seem to have been concerned with preserving beauty in their own lands to create a kind of Valinor on Middle-earth (Heaven on Earth?). As the time to leave grew more and more inevitable I think it's understandable that Elves kept more to themselves rathar than getting involved with 'mannish' issues of the day or issues that effected Middle-earth as a whole. It could have meant a sacrifice of all their labour. It was war against the shadow that caused them to give up Valinor in the first place. They also already lost Beleriand in war on Morgoth so they knew what it felt like to put great labour in making a land fair only to have it destroyed.

10-31-2001, 03:09 PM
Also remember that the Elves only had alliances with the first 3 ruling houses of the Edain - Beor, Hador and Haleth. Almost all other men of the First Age aligned themselves with the Dark Lord out of fear, i.e. the Easterlings, or had not come over the mountains yet. The only descendants of these three houses which remained in the 3rd Age were those of Elrond and the line of Elros. The Elves were indeed friendly to Aragorn, the descendant of Elros. Now, the line of Elros was that of the Kings of Numenor, and you could say that the Elves were friendly with Numenoreans, which later became Gondorians. But, the Elves did not live among the Men in Numenor, and through generation after generation, something of the bond between Elves & Men could have been lost. The Fall of Numenor pushed the bond even farther assunder. The Faithful who returned to Middle Earth and built Gondor were Elf-friends, but after the Last Alliance, there were not many Elves left in Middle Earth. Their appearance in the cities of Men probably became less and less frequent. Especially with the ruling house absent from the throne. With the short lifespan of men, generations passed and those who really knew Elves were gone. So, the Elves in Middle Earth became more of a legend than a reality to Men. Just as Eomer thinks that The Lady of the Golden Wood is a sort of witch. The mistrust grew more out of lack of knowledge and estrangement than out of resentment, I think. I really don't imagine that the Elves, as a whole, are capable of resenting Men for their inevitable dominion of Middle Earth. It was part of the song (of the Ainur), and the Elves, in their forsight and wisdom, knew that it was coming. They knew they would have to return to Valinor. Also, I think they avoided the struggles with Sauron, leaving them to the Men, not because they felt they had suffered enough and didn't want anymore losses, but because that was part of their fading. They were supposed to, in a way, let go of Middle Earth. Perhaps their "business & labors" were of gathering those who were lost and saying good-bye to the forests and streams of Middle Earth. Anyway, just my thoughts.

10-31-2001, 05:50 PM
"...the elves as the side which has more insight, and more foresight as well...."

"Going back to the 'Dominion of Men' issue plus the forsight of Elves...."

"...and the Elves, in their forsight and wisdom...."

Come on, people! Are you native English-speakers going to let Sharku, a German, be the only member of this thread who can accurately spell "foresight"? This is our language! Please aid in the efforts to keep it from transforming into a hideous Newspeak-esque form of itself! If a non-native speaker can help, surely you, too, can be a part of the ever more difficult task. Let us not allow our linguistic efforts to fall to the wayside so easily.

10-31-2001, 06:33 PM
Amen! http://www.plauder-smilies.de/happy/roflmao.gif


The Barrow-Wight
10-31-2001, 07:14 PM
Must be a couple of those snooty Elves we've been talking about (tree and red) smilies/wink.gif Who else would disturb a good conversation for something as trivial as poor spelling. Elves with their noses in the air! smilies/tongue.gif

[ October 31, 2001: Message edited by: The Barrow-Wight ]

10-31-2001, 10:54 PM
C'mon, BW. Thay raze a gud poynt.

10-31-2001, 10:58 PM
The Barrow Wight. smilies/wink.gif

Now I understand that the elves are hesitant when forming alliances or friendships, and that only three were formed that, in a way, still remained in the Third Age. But others were made, Bòr and his sons where faithful, the Drùedain where friendly with elves, and I am sure there were others. The elves are more excepting than it would appear. Rationalizing this, if you were to go through all the same events, wouldn't you act the same way?

Eowyn of Ithilien
11-01-2001, 02:23 AM
someone may have already said this but...I'm saying it anyway smilies/tongue.gif the Elves simply had loftier concerns than the suffering of men...it's almost like asking them to be concerned with someone's scraped knee while another lies dying

11-01-2001, 02:09 PM
Their was still trade between elves and men in the Third Age, but most of you seem to say that elves completely distanced themselves from men. One really good example is in Hobbit, when the elves send the wine down the river.

Gwaihir the Windlord
11-01-2001, 10:35 PM
Eowyn; what loftier concerns? Name some.

Yes, the Elves still had dealings with Men. And Lothlorien and Thranduil's realm in Mirkwood were both attacked two or three time during the War of the Ring; the Elves weren't inactive during the War. They defended their homes when they were attacked, but they didn't send any troops to aid Gondor. They should have, really, Elrond and Cirdan especially.
I don't think Elrond would have abandoned Middle-Earth, as if it was no longer his concern. He sent the Company. however he sent no aid. That's what gets me.

11-02-2001, 12:33 AM
What troops could Elrond or Cirdan have sent? Perhaps there were only enough elves left in middle-earth to defend their homes in Mirkwood, Lothlorien, and Rivendell.

Eowyn of Ithilien
11-02-2001, 01:58 AM
perhaps the Company was his aid...and by loftier concerns I mean the Three, and the knowledge that the Elves would either leave Middle Earth or perish in it
hmm I haven't answered the question very well

11-02-2001, 09:15 AM
I disagree with those who say that Elves were unfriendly. You confuse aloofness with nobility and wisdom. To Elves men were as ignorant, superstitious children, lacking knowledge of the world, its workings and history. The exception would be human lords or members of the great houses, particularly those who were fostered among elves or raised with their traditions like Hurin, Huor, Tuor, Beren, Turin, Aragorn and some Numenoreans of the Second Age. Elves would not wish to associate with the common folk.

Also, association with men may have been a source of grief and anguish to Elves. A living reminder of the transitory and fleeting nature of what had become the mortal lands. I don't blame elves for maintaining their distance from men.

Eowyn of Ithilien
11-02-2001, 02:41 PM
smilies/smile.gif well said

11-03-2001, 10:08 AM
I don't know, I think Ecthellion just illustrated the arogance of the Elves. They may have been more noble and wizened but that doesn't mean the other Eruhinì should be beyond their concern.

11-03-2001, 11:40 PM
Not even the Valar understood the gift of Men. Many Elves had dealings with the race of Men in all 3 ages. Lothlorien being the exception, but then again they had no dealings with the Dwarves after the fall of Moria, or even Thranduils people in Mirkwood , it would seem that only the other High Elves were the ones they dealt with. Cirdan always aided the Northern Kingdom, and Numenor would send aid to GilGalad during the 2nd age, and Eanur came with an army for the Battle of Fornost. Thranduil dealt with the Lakemen and Dorwinion. And Elrond aided all the races. Elves seemed more concerned with things of beauty, music, and nature. Another reason could have been that since Men die, it was hard to bear the loss, after befriending them. Rivendell and Mithlond may well have been preparing to defend their own lands not knowing if or when they would be attacked, also they Elves were not as numerous as they had been previously, with many being having already gone into the west or had died in prewvious battles. I hadn't heard of an Elven colony near Gondor, only the old port that the Lorien Elves used to sail out of.
OK, I'll stop babbling smilies/smile.gif

11-06-2001, 12:35 PM
GtW said: He [Elrond] sent the Company. however he sent no aid. That's
what gets me.
Lindil: Maintaining Rivendell throughout the 2nd age was no mean feat. It provided a staging ground for all of the major events of the late 3rd age. A home base for Gandalf's wandering, a secondary homebase for the Arnorian Dunedain, Lothlorien's only point of contact w/ the outside world, a place for frodo & co. to escape to from the Shire and a home of Noldorin smiths capable of reforging Narsil. I am sure there is more...

As an analogy, should america have closed all of it's univerities during WWII, just so more folks could have fought Hitler?

Elrond was a great hater of evil and a stalwart foe of Sauron and he proved his wisdom by not biting off more than he could chew in the wars against Sauron.
Elrond was no king and had no kingdom.
Rivendell shows all of the signs of being an elven 'commune'.albeit one w/ a venerable lord.
I see Imladris in the following way:
A collection of Elven refugee's from Eregion, follower's of Gil-Galad and Elrond from Lindon, and a small assortment of 1st age elves who landed at the havens of Sirion. Most would have sailed over the seas or remained at the havens w/ Cirdan and some of the Sinadar would have immigrated w/ Thranduil's father.
Elves such as Gildor and his company, would make it a regular stop, possibly during times of storytelling/ festivals. Unlike anywhere else we know of in M-E, Elronds house harbored and sheltered Elves, dwarves, Men and Hobbit's.
Elrond had of course the final say, but unlike a kingdom, one would be free, I imagine to come and go from 'formal' duties [such as scouting] w/out it being treason.One would be accountable while in the household for whatever duties one was most suited or where there was a need.
Elrond alone of the eldar, maintained a military [albeit guerilla] alliance w/ Men. Maintaing the secret and the tresures of the house of Elros/Elendil/Isildur and aiding in their watch over Eriador.
Rivendell [along w/ lorien] are to me the fascinating places in the third age of M-E. Rivendell could be characterized as the locational hub around which the wheel of the Hobbit/LotR saga turns.

As a basic fact great power easily breeds distance from those who do not have it.
You do not see baby Bush going down to the pub every night to hang out w/ the longshoremen.

Elves lived in many ways in a different Middle-Earth, they lived differently than Men did, because they could think realistically in terms of millenia.
Elvish relationships w/ men [and vice-versa] came at a cost, as was discovered in the Kingdoms and feifdoms of Beleriand. Elves knew [from numenor] that Men could be envious of their immortality, and even though the Edain/northern Dunedain/Numenoreans had proven their friendship many times over the Ages, it was seen as healthier that men live in their own realms and w/ their own lords. why ? because their psyche's were organized around different principles. I imagine as note in the UT [aldarin and erendis note 2 - end] says that [good] Men held the Elves in awe. Similarly to how people who encounter saints fiond their whole world upended.

In short smilies/wink.gif, elves had learned to interact w/ humans only when destiny drew them together.
while their was much for men to learn from elves, such learning can only happen when a multitude of factors was right, which in M-E was relatively rare.

Osanwe Kenta@

Gwaihir the Windlord
11-06-2001, 10:37 PM
by loftier concerns I mean the Three, and the knowledge that the Elves would either leave Middle Earth or perish in it
hmm I haven't answered the question very well

Yeah. Elrond and the Elves of Rivendell, and ME, had the concern, certainly, of defending their homes; however all peoples of Middle-Earth did. This wasn't a 'loftier concern', just an ordinary one.

Er, on the side, what does everyone think of my Rings theory? smilies/smile.gif (the first reply). I think it's rather good, personally. I'll stick by that one.

11-06-2001, 10:57 PM
It was difficult for elves to have lasting relationships with men, because men's lives are so short compared to the elves. When the men die, the elves found themselves trying to carry on the relationship with the next generation of men, and that doesnt work out as well and is not consistant. Relationships with men meant nothing, because men die so quickly. So I suppose that after awhile, elves just stopped putting up with men altogether.

Gwindor the Grand

[ November 07, 2001: Message edited by: Gwindor ]

10-06-2002, 06:24 AM

Tirned Tinnu
10-06-2002, 08:40 AM
You know, I don't see mentioned anywhere here the sadness that the ELves felt towards Men. Surely the Elves called Men the Sickly Ones, Short-lived, Aftercomers. But at the same time, once each relationship was struck up, man aged that much faster, and died that much quicker; it must have been almost like a parent losing a child to the Elves.

After so much bitterness, war and loss of their own kin, it must have been a triple blow to see a beloved "child" die in what seemed a relatively brief time of existance.
I too, would have been left mourning, and not wanting to strike up more friendships with these short-lived peoples if I had lost one to whom I had tremendous love for. smilies/frown.gif

10-06-2002, 10:35 AM
So true Tirned. We all missed that.

I need to think from an immortal perspective more often.

08-15-2005, 07:47 AM
No elf, even if he could be considered a rebel or be accused of nefarious deeds, would, on the other hand, see himself as truly evil. ...

In the Silmarillion, Chapter 1, we have the straightforward sentence
'Yet the Elves believe that Men are often a grief to Manwë, […] for it seems to the Elves that Men resemble Melkor most of all the Ainur […]'.

But isn't this in fact one of the most significant factors about those who have fallen to evil, that they themselves cannot see themselves as evil? Was this not supposed to be Saruman's problem, that he was unable to see how his delight for lore led him to use that lore the wrong way?

And, secondly, it is always easier to absolve oneself of error if one can point fingers towards others and accuse them of greater error. Let he who is without sin cast ...

The problem seems to be that none of the creations are in fact as perfect as the creator, assuming the creator to be perfect as we have been told.

08-15-2005, 09:42 AM
After so much bitterness, war and loss of their own kin, it must have been a triple blow to see a beloved "child" die in what seemed a relatively brief time of existance.
I too, would have been left mourning, and not wanting to strike up more friendships with these short-lived peoples if I had lost one to whom I had tremendous love for.
This reminds me of the Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth
'Across the gulf that divides our kindreds!' said Andreth. 'Is there no bridge but mere words?' And then she wept again.
'There may be. For some. I do not know,' he said. 'The gulf, maybe, is between our fates rather, for else we are close akin, closer than any other creatures in the world. Yet perilous is it to cross a gulf set by doom; and should any do so, they will not find joy upon the other side, but the griefs of both. So I deem.
'But why dost thou say "mere words"? Do not words overpass the gulf between one life and another? Between thee and me surely more has passed than empty sound? Have we not drawn near at all? But that is, I think, little comfort to thee.'
'I have not asked for comfort,' said Andreth. 'For what do I need it?'
'For the doom of Men that has touched thee as a woman,' said Finrod. 'Dost thou think that I do not know? Is he not my brother dearly loved? Aegnor: Aikanár, the Sharp-flame, swift and eager. And not long are the years since you first met, and your hands touched in this darkness. Yet then thou wert a maiden, brave and eager, in the morning upon the high hills of Dorthonion.'
'Say on!' said Andreth. 'Say: who art now but a wise-woman, alone, and age that shall not touch him has already set winter's grey in thy hair! But say not thou to me, for so he once did!'
'Alas!' said Finrod. 'That is the bitterness, beloved adaneth, woman of Men, is it not? that has run through all your words. If I could speak any comfort, you would deem it lordly from one on my side of the sundering doom. But what can I say, save to remind you of the Hope that you yourself have revealed?'
'I did not say that it was ever my hope,' answered Andreth. 'And even were it so, I would still cry: why should this hurt come here and now? Why should we love you, and why should ye love us (if ye do), and yet set the gulf between?'
'Because we were so made, close kin,' said Finrod. 'But we did not make ourselves, and therefore we, the Eldar, did not set the gulf. Nay, adaneth, we are not lordly in this, but pitiful. That word will displease thee. Yet pity is of two kinds: one is of kinship recognized, and is near to love; the other is of difference of fortune perceived, and is near to pride. I speak of the former.'
'Speak of neither to me!' said Andreth. 'I desire neither. I was young and I looked on his flame, and now I am old and lost. He was young and his flame leaped towards me, but he turned away, and he is young still. Do candles pity moths?'
'Or moths candles, when the wind blows them out?' said Finrod. 'Adaneth, I tell thee, Aikanár the Sharp-flame loved thee. For thy sake now he will never take the hand of any bride of his own kindred, but live alone to the end, remembering the morning in the hills of Dorthonion. But too soon in the North-wind his flame will go out! Foresight is given to the Eldar in many things not far off, though seldom of joy, and I say to thee thou shalt live long in the order of your kind, and he will go forth before thee and he will not wish to return.'
Then Andreth stood up and stretched her hands to the fire. 'Then why did he turn away? Why leave me while I had still a few good years to spend?'
'Alas!' said Finrod. 'I fear the truth will not satisfy thee. The Eldar have one kind, and ye another; and each judges the others by themselves - until they learn, as do few. This is time of war, Andreth, and in such days the Elves do not wed or bear child; but prepare for death - or for flight. Aegnor has no trust (nor have I) in this siege of Angband that it will last long; and then what will become of this land? If his heart ruled, he would have wished to take thee and flee far away, east or south, forsaking his kin, and thine. Love and loyalty hold him to his. What of thee to thine? Thou hast said thyself that there is no escape by flight within the bounds of the world.'
'For one year, one day, of the flame I would have given all: kin, youth, and hope itself: adaneth I am,' said Andreth.
'That he knew,' said Finrod; 'and he withdrew and did not grasp what lay to his hand: elda he is. For such barters are paid for in anguish that cannot be guessed, until it comes, and in ignorance rather than in courage the Eldar judge that they are made.

Rhod the Red
05-05-2006, 07:07 AM
I don't think it's unreasonable. Take the Third Age: Sauron has returned, Orcs are raiding Ithillian, Osgiliath has been taken and Moria and Mirkwood under seige by goblins.

Plus Rohan and Gondor don't communicate with the Elves, combined with whispering unfair rumours about the 'dangers' and 'perils' of seeking them out.

If you had uninvited visitors at the edge of your country in those times it woul;d be only fair to raise your bow and arrow and ask "What do you want?" wouldn't it?