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Old 04-03-2020, 02:33 PM   #1
Urwen
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The Fate of.....

What happens to the individuals who defy orders or are responsible for some great tragedy after they die? Do they get re-embodied?
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Old 04-03-2020, 03:36 PM   #2
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As it happens, I have The Peoples of Middle-earth to hand (I know! The first time anyone's ever admitted to Having The Books Right Now), and it contains a very pertinent quote:

Quote:
Originally Posted by HoME XII: Last Writings - Glorfindel
When Glorfindel of Gondolin was slain his spirit would according to the laws established by the One be obliged at once to return to the land of the Valar. Then he would go to Mandos and be judged, and would then remain in the 'Halls of Waiting' until Manwe [sic ~hS] granted him release. Elves were destined to be 'immortal', that is not to die within the unknown limits decreed by the One, which at the most could be until the end of the life of the Earth as a habitable realm. Their death - by any injury to their bodies so severe that it could not be healed - and the disembodiment of their spirits was an 'unnatural' and grievous matter. It was therefore the duty of the Valar, by command of the One, to restore them to incarnate life, if they desired it. But this 'restoration' could be delayed by Manwe [Footnote: or in the gravest cases (such as that of Feanor) withheld and referred to the One], if the fea while alive had done evil deeds and refused to repent of them, or still harboured any malice against any other person among the living.
So far as I can tell, this is Tolkien's final explicit comment on the matter, and it's pretty clear: Mandos judges the incoming spirits, and seems to give his recommendation to Manwe. In all but 'the gravest' cases, they would be released as soon as they had fully repented of all their misdeeds and rid themselves of any malice towards others. The 'gravest cases' were referred to the One, and I believe the only known examples are Feanor and Team Luthien.

But.

Tolkien goes on to hint at a more complicated view, in the continuation of the same passage:

Quote:
Originally Posted by HoME XII: Last Writings - Glorfindel
Now Glorfindel of Gondolin was one of the exiled Noldor, rebels against the authority of Manwe, and they were all under a ban imposed by him: they could not return in bodily form to the Blessed Realm. Manwe, however, was not bound by his own ordinances, and being still the supreme ruler of the Kingdom of Arda could set them aside, when he saw fit. ... it can be assumed that, though [Glorfindel] left Valinor in the host of Turgon, and so incurred the ban, he did so reluctantly because of kinship with Turgon[!!! ~hS] and allegiance to him, and had no part in the kinslaying of Alqualonde.

More important: Glorfindel had sacrificed his life in defending the fugitives from the wreck of Gondolin against a Demon out of Thangorodrim, and so enabling Tuor and Idril... and their child Earendil to escape, and seek refuge at the Mouths of Sirion. Though he cannot have known the importance of this (and would have defended them even had they been fugitives of any rank), this deed was of vital importance to the designs of the Valar. It is therefore entirely in keeping with the general design of The Silmarillion to describe the subsequent history of Glorfindel thus. After his purging of any guilt that he had incurred in the rebellion, he was released from Mandos, and Manwe restored him. He then became again a living incarnate person, but was permitted to dwell in the Blessed Realm; for he had regained the primitive innocence and grace of the Eldar.

[...] Glorfindel remained in the Blessed Realm, no doubt at first by his own choice: Gondolin was destroyed, and all his kin had perished, and were still in the Halls of Waiting unapproachable by the living.
So it seems that in the specific case of the Exiles, Manwe made an exception to the rule of 'free as soon as you're healed', and just... kept them all down there through at least to the mid Second Age (known exceptions: Finrod, Glorfindel).

This can actually be perfectly reconciled with the main description by reading 'if the fea while alive had done evil deeds and refused to repent of them' as indicating that they had to repent of them while alive, but I don't know how I feel about that idea. It's a very Christian notion, so it might be what Tolkien was aiming at... perhaps the best resolution is that 'evil deeds' means more than just 'anything bad': it means seriously bad stuff.

And indeed, the first version of this passage says that they would be restored 'unless for some grave (and rare) reason: such as deeds of great evil, or any works of malice of which they remained obdurately unrepentant.'

Combining all the above, I think we get a pretty clear picture: if you did malicious (but not capital-Evil) things in life, you stay in until you repent. If you still feel malice towards anyone, you stay in until you get over it. And if you did a Great Evil, and didn't repent in life, you don't get out (and might be referred to the One).

'Repent', in the last instance (as in at least some branches of Christianity), refers not just to feeling sorry about it, but making amends - in the case of the Ban, that means actively progressing the plans of the Valar. Glorfindel did this by helping Earendil escape; Finrod did it by protecting Beren and thus enabling the rescue of the Silmaril. And Galadriel, while not dead, seems to have overcome the Ban by not taking the Ring, but sending it on its way to destruction.

So to answer your question: was it a Great Evil? If not, they probably get to repent in the Halls. If so, they'd better have tried to fix it while they were alive - or hope Mandos is feeling merciful today.

hS
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Old 04-03-2020, 03:58 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urwen View Post
What happens to the individuals who defy orders or are responsible for some great tragedy after they die? Do they get re-embodied?
This would not concern mortals, as there is no evidence they are re-embodied at all; in fact, they are set apart in Mandos and none know their fate. As for Elves, there is no evidence whatsoever that Elves who have committed evil, like Maeglin, are allowed to return from Mandos as a corporeal manifestation. That is solely in the realm of Mandos as the final arbiter of such a reincarnation. Not even Feanor is allowed to return until the very end of times.

As for Maiar? Saruman, once he died at the hands of Wormtongue, was not even allowed to return to Valinor. His spirit as Shippey notes, "dissolved into nothing". But Tolkien seemed more specific than that: "Whereas Curunir was cast down, and utterly humbled, and perished at last by the hand of an oppressed slave; and his spirit went whithersoever it was doomed to go, and to Middle-earth, whether naked or embodied, came never back."

Sauron, too, was not allowed to reincarnate after the destruction of the One Ring. His spirit rose above Mordor, "a huge shape of shadow, impenetrable, lightning-crowned, ...terrible but impotent," only to be blown away by a great wind. Tolkien notes in Letter 200: "The impossibility of re-building after the destruction of the Ring, is sufficiently clear ‘mythologically’ in the present book."

Interesting that both the spirits of Sauron and Saruman were blown away by the wind. Although the direction of the wind is not implied as it blew away Sauron's spirit, it is very specific in the case of Saruman's spirit as it loomed above the Hobbits: "For a moment it wavered, looking to the West; but out of the West came a cold wind, and it bent away, and with sigh dissolved to nothing." The implication is that it was blown away from the Blessed Realm.

But back to your original query, Tolkien is quite specific about "wicked" spirits and fea:

Quote:
"If they do not sink below a certain level. Since no fea can be annihilated, reduced to zero or not-existing, it is no[t] clear what is meant. Thus Sauron was said to have fallen below the point of ever recovering, though he had previously recovered. What is probably meant is that a "wicked" spirit becomes fixed in a certain desire or ambition, and if it cannot repent then this desire becomes virtually its whole being. But the desire may be wholly beyond the weakness it has fallen to, and it will then be unable to withdraw its attention from the unobtainable desire, even to attend to itself. It will then remain for ever in impotent desire or memory of desire."

JRRT, text VII, Myths Transformed, Morgoth's Ring
So, no, Maeglin ain't coming back, particularly since he didn't seem to have any redeeming qualities or the ability to repent. He was the very embodiment of what Tolkien referred to as "fixed in a certain desire or ambition, and if it cannot repent then this desire becomes virtually its whole being."
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Old 04-03-2020, 04:34 PM   #4
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Urwen has just left Hobbiton.
But Morlin will come back. In fact, he already has.
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Old 04-07-2020, 02:28 AM   #5
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Since we have a Mandos thread, I was wondering what, exactly, the Halls of Mandos were like. HoME XII gives a good overview of what elves are there for, but to find out what they actually looked like I went clear back to HoME I:

Quote:
Originally Posted by HoME I: The Coming of the Valar
Vefantur [Mandos] and Fui [Nienna] his wife of tears… fared away far to the northward of those regions, where beneath the roots of the most cold and northerly of the Mountains of Valinor, that rise here again almost to their height nigh Arvalin, they begged Aule to delve them a hall…. Very vast were those caverns that they made stretching even down under the Shadowy Seas, and they are full of gloom and filled with echoes, and all that deep abode is known to Gods and Elves as Mandos. There in a sable Hall sat Vefantur, and he called that hall with his own name Ve. It was lit only with a single vessel placed in the centre, wherein there lay some gleaming drops of the pale dew of Silpion: it was draped with dark vapours and its floors and columns were of jet. Thither in after days fared the Elves of all the clans who were by illhap slain with weapons or did die of grief for those that were slain - and only so might the Eldar die, and then it was only for a time. There Mandos spake their doom, and there they waited in the darkness, dreaming of their past deeds, until such time as he appointed when they might again be born into their children.
I love the Book of Lost Tales in part because it does give these detailed, physical descriptions. Tolkien wasn't messing about - he knew exactly what Mandos' hall looked like.

There's a few really interesting points I want to draw out, quite aside from all the changing-around of names:

-The Eldar are described here as 'dreaming', and it's not clear how well that meshes with the later interpretation of the Halls as a place of healing and repentance. If we want to merge the two, we could imagine that their dreams are the way they go through that process - by reliving events over and over, they can come to terms with them, good or bad. It seems they're 'awake' on their first arrival, when Mandos speaks their doom (and in the case of Luthien, gets persuaded otherwise), but then they 'sleep'.

The counterpoint to this is that Feanor is mentioned in the published Silm as sitting in the Halls, where 'sleeping' would fit just as easily; and Finwe thinks about how he might see Elwe 'in the halls of Mandos'. So if 'sleep' is still in play, it would have to be a sort of waking sleep.

-The Halls of Mandos, in this original incarnation, are exactly that: multiple Halls in the region known as Mandos. Ve, the hall of Mandos himself, is one of them, but Fui Nienna also has a hall (its roof is made of bat wings), and there are other 'shadowy folk' who may have their own.

This concept, at least, is explicitly rejected by the published Silm: it's said of Vaire's weavings that 'the halls of Mandos that ever widen as the ages pass are clothed with them', which indicates that the Halls, plural, are the abode of the dead elves.

-The fate of Men is wildly different in this text: they go to Nienna's hall in Mandos, where she judges them:

Quote:
Originally Posted by HoME I: The Coming of the Valar
Slaughters and fires, hungers and mishaps, diseases and blows dealt in the dark, cruelty and bitter cold and anguish and their own folly bring them here; and Fui reads their hearts. Some then she keeps in Mandos beneath the mountains, and some she drives forth beyond the hills and Melko siezes them and bears them to Angamandi, or the Hells of Iron, where they have evil days. Some too, and these are the many, she sends aboard the black ship Mornie, who lieth ever and anon in a dark harbour of the North awaiting those times when the sad pomp winds to the beach down the slow rugged paths from Mandos.

Then, when she is laden, of her own accord she spreads her sable sails and before a slow wind coasts down those shores. Then do all aboard as they come South cast looks of utter longing and regret to that low place amid the hills where Valinor may just be glimpsed upon the far-off plain; and that opening is nigh Taniquetil where is the strand of Eldamar. No more do they see of that bright place, but borne away dwell after on the wide plains of Arvalin. There do they wander in the dusk, camping as they may; yet are they not utterly without song, and they can see the stars, and wait in patience till the Great End come.

Few are they and happy indeed for whom at a season doth Nornore the herald of the Gods set out. Then ride they with him in chariots or upon good horses down into the vale of Valinor and feast in the halls of Valmar, dwelling in the houses of the Gods until the Great End come. Far away are they from the black mountains of the North or the misty plains of Arvalin, and music and fair light is theirs, and joy.
This section has a proper ancient feel: Arvalin is Asphodel or Hel, Valmar is serving as Valhalla or the Isles of the Blessed, and Angband is being a very Christian Hell. It's certainly much more derived from the Primary World mythology than the Gift of Men later became.

But I daresay it holds special significance for you, Urwen, because it's the setting for the final tragedy and triumph of the House of Hurin:

Quote:
Originally Posted by HoME II: Turambar and the Foaloke
Yet it is said that when Úrin was dead his shade fared into the woods seeking Mavwin, and long those twain haunted the woods about the fall of Silver Bowl bewailing their children. But the Elves of Kôr have told, and they know, that at last Úrin and Mavwin fared to Mandos, and Nienóri was not there nor Túrin their son. Túrambar indeed had followed Nienóri along the black pathways to the doors of Fui, but Fui would not open to them, neither would Vefántur. Yet now the prayers of Úrin and Mavwin came even to Manwë, and the Gods had mercy on their unhappy fate, so that those twain Túrin and Nienóri entered into Fôs’Almir, the bath of flame, even as Urwendi and her maidens had done in ages past before the first rising of the Sun, and so were all their sorrows and stains washed away, and they dwelt as shining Valar among the blessed ones, and now the love of that brother and sister is very fair; but Turambar indeed shall stand beside Fionwë in the Great Wrack, and Melko and his drakes shall curse the sword of Mormakil.
Yup: Tolkien's most messed-up family continue to be messed-up even to the last: Turin and Nienor are locked out of the Halls of the Dead for reasons unstated (coughincestcough), and then when Hurin and Morwen manage to accidentally win lenience for them, it means they don't get to see their kids ever again; but hey, at least their incest has divine approval!

Also Turin, now a god, will not only get to stab Melkor, but also to take out his anger on as many dragons as he can lay his hands on. Which, honestly, I can't blame him for.

hS
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Old 04-07-2020, 03:39 PM   #6
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With the caveat that the BoLT was very early and in a LOT of areas superseded. In particular, its Valar owe a lot more to RW pagan pantheons, including the bloodthirsty war-Valar Makar and Measse; while Mandos in this early period fit in well with the "gloomy caverns" of Hades or Hel, later descriptions of them lined with Vaire's tapestries invoke, for me, something more like a monastic rest home than a subterranean dungeon.

Also, the concept of the Second Prophecy is fraught, especially given his later flat statement that the Valar were forbidden to take away the Gift of Men. In the BoLT phase, Men as well as Elves went to Mandos, in segregated accommodations.
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Old 04-07-2020, 05:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post

-The Eldar are described here as 'dreaming', and it's not clear how well that meshes with the later interpretation of the Halls as a place of healing and repentance. If we want to merge the two, we could imagine that their dreams are the way they go through that process - by reliving events over and over, they can come to terms with them, good or bad. It seems they're 'awake' on their first arrival, when Mandos speaks their doom (and in the case of Luthien, gets persuaded otherwise), but then they 'sleep'.

hS
Elvish dreams are not quite like human ones though are they if you think of Legolas “resting his mind in the strange paths of Elvish dreams, even as he walked open-eyed in the light of this world” or sleeping “eyes unclosed, blending living night and deep dream, as is the way with Elves.”
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Old 04-08-2020, 01:31 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
Also, the concept of the Second Prophecy is fraught, especially given his later flat statement that the Valar were forbidden to take away the Gift of Men. In the BoLT phase, Men as well as Elves went to Mandos, in segregated accommodations.
Men went all over the flippin' place. I'm now stuck wondering how late the Second Prophecy actually persisted - and for that matter, how late the mention of Turin stayed in it.

I'm also wondering about the fate of Tuor; the tradition that he's counted among the Elves comes from the published Silm, right? Of course it could be wrong, but it's still there.

For that matter, Ar-Pharazon 'sleeping' until the End is in there, too; does that just count as a deferment of the Gift, rather than a removal?

hS
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