View Full Version : Heirlooms of the elves

10-22-2001, 04:30 PM
Elrian's post in the "I was thinking" thread made something occur to me. When an elf is slain, he or she is fated to be allowed to live again after emerging from Mandos absent exigent circumstances (for example, Feanor has not been allowed to exit Mandos). So what happens to that elf's heirlooms after he is slain? Humans pass their heirlooms to their descendents or family/friends. These items become the property of those heirs.

The situation is very different for elves. Hypothetically, elf x is slain. Elf y, x's son takes up possession of x's sword and the jewels of x's house. Y returns to the west with the heirlooms. What happens when x emerges from Mandos?

To return to Elrian's post, Glamdring, the sword of Turgon, is found. Elrond is Turgon's grandson. Does Elrond have any right to Glamdring?

Gwaihir the Windlord
10-22-2001, 11:38 PM
Well, I s'pose that would depend on the individual, wouldn't it. If you were x and y took your sword to the West, what would you do? Let him keep it, or have it back? Depends on the decision of x.

Elrond probably would have claim on Glamdring if it was Turgon's blade; owever, what would he use it for? He stays in Rivendell, no longer doing any fighting himself. It was much more useful to Gandalf.

10-23-2001, 05:48 AM
Forgive me for being lacy, but is it stated anywhere that Glamdring was Turgons Sword??? I know that Elrond in the Hobbit states that "this is Glamdring the the king of Gondolin wore..."

My point is that maybe the thought of Elrond and Turgon being so close family as the are hadn't been developed at the time JRRT wrote the hobbit???

If so - Elrond would not have a claim on Glamdring - and of course didn't make it.
JRRT was were very keen on accepting things published as facts - and this may be why it was not changed or altered when he revised The Hobbit.

10-23-2001, 07:47 AM
No offense taken Telchar. The point of this thread is more to speculate about how Elves deal with this situation rather than address particular scenarios. Concerning Glamdring, I haven't looked at pre-Hobbit versions of the Sil. (Lost Tales, etc.) but the general conception of the King of Gondolin, whether he was named Turgon or no, was set in JRRT's earliest writings. Elrond came later of course, but by the time of LoTR his lineage was set (His relationship to Earendil, etc. and, in the then unpublished background Turgon's relationship to Earendil). JRRT revised the Hobbit when LoTR was being readied for publication. The first edition, fifth printing of the Hobbit issued in the early 1950s incorporated most of these changes. If JRRT wanted the detail of Glamdring's history to be changed he could have done so then or during the second edition revisions of the mid-1960s. I don't think it can be argued that Glamdring wasn't Turgon's sword.

10-23-2001, 01:54 PM
That's an interesting question. It would be safe to say that the Elves took their family heirlooms back into the west with them. But whether x would take them back if y offered them is a mystery. I don't think they would need swords in the west, but jewels and things like that they might share among family members.
Turgon was the only King of Gondolin so it had to have been his sword. If I remember right Elros got most of the battle type heirlooms of their house, like the Axe of Tuor and the sword of Thingol. Elrond knew Gandalf would have more use of Glamdring than he would, maybe that's why he never laid a claim. He may have had a weapon that came from another ancestor, but I don't recall if he did. smilies/smile.gif

10-24-2001, 12:43 AM
Elves were very rarely greedy. Of course, the Silmarils brought out the worst in them, but other than that it was quite uncommon for them to begrudge anyone anything. I think, while this doesn't answer the question, it is significant. I highly doubt there would ever be any difficulty over the rightful owner of material possessions.

As for Glamdring, considering the previously pointed fact that Elrond had no need of it, I think it very probable that, had he even considered who its rightful owner was, he wouldn't have requested it from Gandalf. Gandalf was, after all, the emissary of the Valar and the bearer of Narya.

[ October 24, 2001: Message edited by: obloquy ]

10-24-2001, 02:08 PM
it was quite uncommon for them to begrudge anyone anything

Sorry about trying to be picky, but weren't elves pretty tight with some of their more "magical" belongings when dealing with non-elves (like humans) I picked up that the fellowship getting the elven cloaks was pretty unardinary (and all but one of them were non-elves)

10-24-2001, 03:59 PM
I don't think the Lorien Elves had any dealings with outsiders, only Aragorn and the Fellowship. But now that you mention it I remember reading something to the effect of them hiding their most precious jewels of their hoards. smilies/smile.gif

[ October 24, 2001: Message edited by: Elrian ]

Mister Underhill
10-26-2001, 02:48 PM
Good topic, as always, Mithadan! I'm inclined to agree with obloquy. With the notable exceptions of the Silmarils and that pesky Fëanor and his ilk, the Elves seem to have been much less materialistic than the other races of Middle-earth. They were particularly generous in this regard when a particular item or items could be more effectively used elsewhere: Cirdan gave Gandalf Narya, the Eldar gave the Palantíri to Amandil “for the comfort of the Faithful of Númenor in their dark days”, and of course Galadriel gave the Fellowship many gifts without which their mission would likely have failed. It’s unimaginable that Elrond would lay claim to Glamdring while he’s biding his time in Rivendell and Gandalf is out fighting the good fight.

I would add that the cultural significance of family heirlooms was probably considerably less for Elves than for other races. What is an heirloom, anyway, but a way to create some sort of continuity with vanished ancestors? This is not such a big consideration for Elves, where generations do not fade and, in the event of death, there’s no mystery about the “afterlife” – you will meet your ancestors again in the West. There’s no need to maintain the superficial and woefully insufficient link to past generations through heirlooms.

10-26-2001, 09:08 PM
"Galadriel gave the Fellowship many gifts without which their mission would likely have failed."

I kinda picked up on the elves giving the fellowship giving the Fellowship so many things as almost out of character for the elves.

Also, considering your description of heirlooms, they wouldn't be held close. However, I think the term heirlooms is being used more as "really old objects," and also, the main question is whether an elf recovers their belongings when the come back after death.

One last thing, just as a question I've had for a while relating to the returning of dead elves. Does this keep the number of elves relatively constant, with all elves being born just returning elves, or does it make the # of elves always rising, where all of the dead elves return and then new elves are being born.

10-27-2001, 05:45 AM
To your question, Eldar14:
Elves returning from Mandos were not reborn to parents, so the total number of Elves was probably rising all the time. On the other hand, all Elves may not have wanted to return back to life or even to go to Mandos in the first place.

10-27-2001, 09:11 AM
Yeah, plus Elves usually only had a few children if any. That fact along with the elves who stayed in Mandos would probably keep the population rising at a healthy aerithmatic rateopposed to a dangerous geometric one.otherwise we would have begun to see a group of suburban isles being erected by the Valar around Tol Eressea to cope with the alarming population density spewing out of Valinor.
It wouldn't be so much 'the Lonely Isle' anymore.

10-27-2001, 08:41 PM
Didn't it say something in one of the HoME about some of the Elves moving on from Valinor to somewhere else after the 4th age? I remember reading something to that effect but can't remember which book I read it in.

11-02-2001, 09:20 AM
No one mentions a related issue. What happens when an Elvish king dies and returns from Mandos? Does his successor stand down and allow rule to return to his predecessor?

11-04-2001, 12:01 AM
I don't think Finwe ever tried to reclaim the High Noldor Kingship from Finarfin. But after their release from Mandos, Turgon, GilGilad, Finrod,Amroth, and Thingol both might still be considered Kings at least to their people that journeyed into the West.

11-04-2001, 10:48 PM
Finwë couldn't reclaim the kingship because he was never permitted to leave Mandos. Thingol would be a good question though, one that has probably been debated, but maybe not and would be an excellent discussion.

11-06-2001, 10:47 AM
I rather doubt Thingol would be coming out anytime soon. His greed over the Silmaril, his pride and haughtiness, his failure to follow the counsel of Melian would I imagine add up to a long stay. and assuming he gained humility during his stay, he might well commit the rule of the valinorin sindar to Olwe.
Just a thought.


11-06-2001, 12:00 PM
But what about other leaders such as Fingolfin, Oropher of the elves of Greenwood, Dan (?) the leader of the Nandor?

11-13-2001, 05:46 AM
Not enough information for a prime computation.
however somewhere in the bowels of HoME I recall something about those who died [fingolfin/finwe] would not become kings again but that Finarfin would continue to rule.


11-13-2001, 02:37 PM
Would that only aply to the Noldor that left Aman after being told not to do so? Now to deprive Elwë of his Kingship is a good question. And who rules over Tol Eresea?

Gwaihir the Windlord
11-13-2001, 10:35 PM
I would say that the former king, having returned from Mandos, would not attempt to knock his predeccessor off. However, if the predesesor (???) offered, and the people wished it, then the king may ascend again. As I believe I have said, there is no formula for that sort of thing; it balances on the decisions people make.

11-14-2001, 08:02 PM
Originally posted by Durelen:
<STRONG>Finwë couldn't reclaim the kingship because he was never permitted to leave Mandos. Thingol would be a good question though, one that has probably been debated, but maybe not and would be an excellent discussion.</STRONG>

Finwe was killed by Melkor before the Noldor revolted, why would he not be allowed to leave Mandos


Gwaihir the Windlord
11-14-2001, 10:31 PM
Actually I believe Finwe refused to leave Mandos, although he could have if he'd wanted to. He wished to share the same fate as his son.

11-15-2001, 08:22 AM
In Morgoth's Ring, a great deal of information is provided about elvish marriages in general and Finwe's marriage to Miriel. After Miriel abandoned her body and entered Mandos and it became clear she would not return, Finwe petitioned the Valar for permission to seek a new wife. Elvish tradition allowed and elf to marry only once. Death would not sunder a relationship because the deceased would eventually return. The Valar decided that if Miriel chose to not return from Mandos, Finwe could remarry and he did. After he was slain, he elected to remain in Mandos in grief and sorrow for his people (and perhaps to share Feanor's fate). Miriel was thus allowed to exit Mandos, the result being that Finwe can never return. Morgoth's Ring contains a great deal of philosophy and discussion of Elvish customs beyond the thumbnail of the story I have provided.

01-16-2003, 04:27 AM
Former kings Fingolfin, Fingon, Finrod etc. on rebirth into the Undying Lands would have had no kingdoms to rule! At the start of their new lives, they would have been considered nobility because of their birth and former rank, but would not have ruled over anyone unless they started their own new kingdoms in Aman. Which brings up an interesting point. After the flood of reborn Noldor into Aman, did everyone just coexist, or did the former inhabitants of Beleriand create dissension and form new realms?

In my opinion, it's hard to imagine them doing anything to anger the Valar, after such a long struggle against Morgoth in Middle-Earth.

When Gandalf is reincarnated, he is similar but different to how he was before, and had also "forgotten many things" that he once knew. Would a similar thing happen to reborn Elves, that they forget certain things, and come back with slightly altered personalities? Maybe Mandos is a kind of penitentiary, and their fëar are not released until properly atoned or subdued.

The age old rule of Finders, Keepers seems to come into play a lot with items, apart from the Palantír.

01-16-2003, 09:42 AM
After the flood of reborn Noldor into Aman, did everyone just coexist, or did the former inhabitants of Beleriand create dissension and form new realms?

Doug, as you speculated the Halls of Mandos are indeed a palce of penitence and you don't get out till you see straight. Of all of the Elves in the Silmarillion, only Finrod's release is mentioned in the text [ that he walked in Valinor with his father Finarfin, I think it says].

Also someone self-sacrificing like Glorfindel wourl probably be bound for shorter stay.

As for their heirlooms, I was suprised that gandalf took Glamdring [ it is mentioned at the grey havens by name I think] I always thought it would be more useful left in M-E, but I can easily envisage a conversation lie this between Elrond and gandalf in private that would not have been recorded in the Hobbit:

gandalf:[ alone in a private chambers with Elrond] " Then it belongs to you, and not me!"

Elrond: " If anyone can lay claim to it it is Turgon, and if your labors are successful here,then perhaps you can bear it
back to him across the seas.

Gandalf: If Mandos has released one so stubborn and proud!, He certainly had not done so when I left...

Elrond: hey! That's my great gramps you are dissin...

01-17-2003, 07:30 AM
Elrond "A sword, you say? Hmph. *shrugs shoulders* You can have it for an ounce of pipeweed."

Gandalf "Done."

Elrond "Just don't tell the others. And when we get to Valinor and Turgon asks about it, just use an Old Istari Mind Trick on him."

Seriously, though I think Glamdring is more representative of Gandalf's worthiness for his task than anything else. As such I don't think it could be taken away from him. Orcrist was buried with Thorin, even though it was probably twice as tall as he was! And Sting is passed on to the new Bilbo, Frodo.

It's an unfortunate coincidence that Glamdring turned out to be an heirloom of Elrond's house, but there is no doubt it is better bestowed with Gandalf.

The Saucepan Man
01-17-2003, 06:44 PM
It must have been quite a lucrative business being an Elvish lawyer, sorting out all those inheritance rights and the like.

One thing, though. If Mandos was a place where Elves who died went to repent, surely those who led good lives and fell valiantly in battle would be released almost immediately. And what about those Elves that told lies and stole sweets from the shop but never died. Did they ever have to repent? Or was it only bad Elves that died?

[ January 17, 2003: Message edited by: The Saucepan Man ]

01-18-2003, 07:24 AM
what about those Elves that told lies and stole sweets from the shop
I think that the Undying Lands had an element of purgatory about them. If you wanted to live there, you had to obey the code of the Valar. So any bad elves eventually either went to Aman, in which case they were made to see the light and repent, or they stayed in Middle-Earth, and the Valar never cared about what they did, especially since they were just to fade away eventually anyway. Elves being less powerful than say Sauron or Morgoth, it would be of less consequence to let a few bad seeds roam the Hither Lands. Not that there were many to begin with.

The Saucepan Man
01-19-2003, 07:25 PM
Elves being less powerful than say Sauron or Morgoth, it would be of less consequence to let a few bad seeds roam the Hither Lands.

So, if bad Elves stay in ME, there might still be a few around today ...? smilies/wink.gif