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Old 05-30-2001, 05:15 AM   #1
Voronwe
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I was going to post this in 'The Books', but considering its nature, I thought that this might be a more appropriate place for it.

After reading 'Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth' which, I might add, I found to be one of the most interesting, not to mention moving, of all of Tolkien's writings, I was struck with a number of questions.

It seems to me that there are two different conceptions involving the death of Men: The Elvish and the 'Mannish'. Which of these, if any, is the 'right' one? I do not mean to imply a textual contradiction in Tolkien's works - in fact, Athrabeth shows he meant there to be two opinions, to emphasise the 'gulf' that lay between elves and men.

The Elvish conception, and the one which appears in the published Silmarillion, is that Men received death as an original gift of Eru; that their mortality was their 'true nature' and that they had lived short lives as long as they existed.

Men (or at least the Edain), appear to see things differently. Athrabeth shows us that they believed they were not mortal in the beginning. As Andreth puts it, &quot;We were not made for death, nor born ever to die. Death was imposed upon us&quot;. Among men there is a myth of a Fall, caused by Morgoth, which resulted in Death being 'imposed' upon an entire race forever. Certainly rather different from the Elvish account given in the Silmarillion.

Of particular interest to me was the 'Tale of Adanel', which is the myth of the Fall itself. Briefly, Men were created by Eru, seduced by Morgoth so that they began to worship him, whereupon Eru changed their nature so that they died soon and came to Him to know the truth.

Are these two ledgends, those of the 'Gift' and the 'Fall' completely separate and incompatible? Having not read all of Tolkien's writing on the subject, I don't think I'm really qualified to answer that, but nonetheless, allow me to propose a brief theory (probably wrong!) that brings them together.

In the beginning, could it have been that the nature of Men was to live in Arda, still as 'Guests', with an indefinate lifespan and yet having the freedom to depart Arda and go to Eru, in both body and spirit, when they became weary of the world? Then, Men were seduced by the evil of Melkor, and began to fear leaving the world. Thus, to allow men to escape from Melkor's evil, even if they were dominated by it and subject to it, Eru imposed a short life and inescapable death upon mankind, so they would all leave the world and know the truth about Melkor. Looked at like this, death might seem like a gift from Eru to man, giving them freedom and escape even from Morgoth's domination.

This theory does not seem to match the Christian myth of the fall, the one that Tolkien would be familiar with, leading me to suspect that it was perhaps not quite when he intended. But I don't know what his intentions were. I would like to hear some other opinnions on this subject, which I believe to be something which underlies a great deal of Tolkien's work.

I imagine that in the main text of a New Silmarillion only the Elvish idea of mortality would be included, since the Silmarillion was compliled from Elvish historys. Does the Athrabeth have a place too, to show the opinnion of a different race? It appears Tolkien thought it did when he noted it should be included as the 'last item' in an appendix to the work, but being unfamiliar with this project I don't know if you intend it to be included.

Comments on any of this would be greatly appriciated.


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He sped from Westerland.</p>
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Old 05-30-2001, 05:39 AM   #2
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Re: The 'Gift' of men and the Athrabeth

It is some years since I read the Athrabeth. I had some difficulties understanding it, but now thanks to you it all makes more sence, Thanks.
I think the two conceptions goes great together. If men had fallen - and then recivied the gift of death, so they could escape the evil of Morgoth and come to Eru. Men are weaker of mind and body - and therefore more easily corrupted by evil. Therefore Eru had to change the fate of Men: a gift to men because he had originally made them wilder, more free and more innocent.

I think your teory is very well put Voronwe!
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Old 05-30-2001, 09:21 AM   #3
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Re: The 'Gift' of men and the Athrabeth

A good explaination I must say Telchar. But just to make this clear, you are saying that originally men were immortal and that after being seduced by Morgoth, Eru gave them the gift of death to allow them to come to him in the end, instead of remaining in Arda marred. Right? If this is so, not saying it is since there is that lack of textual evidence, then several other questions way back in the recesses of the books forum may be answered.

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Old 05-30-2001, 10:01 AM   #4
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Re: The 'Gift' of men and the Athrabeth

My theory was mostly speculation, but I was suggesting that originally Men did not die after a certain length of time, but remained in Arda as long as they wanted to, before leaving it forever to go to Eru. So all men would have died in the end, but out of choice. Eru would have taken away man's choice with respect to death because Melkor had made them fear it, thus saving men from Melkor's complete domination.

Although I know of no direct textual evidence to support this, for me at least it seemed to fit. In his commentry on the Athrabeth, Tolkien said the following, refering to the Hobbit's sailing to Eressea:

<blockquote>Quote:<hr> The passing 'oversea', therefore, of Mortals after the Catastrophe - which is recorded in the Lord of the Rings - is not quite the same thing [as the passing oversea of the Elves]. It was in any case a special grace. An opportunity for dying according to the original plan for the unfallen: they went to a state in which they could acquire greater knowledge and peace of mind, and being healed of all hurts both of mind and body, could at last surrender themselves: die of free will, and even of desire, in estel. A thing which Aragorn achieved without any such aid.<hr></blockquote>

This makes Arwen's words 'Estel, Estel!' at Aragorn's death seem, perhaps, all the more meaningful.

The Numenoreans, in the days of their bliss, seem to have regained some of man's original nature - they lived long lives and died in the end of free will - probably because of their reconciliation with Eru. Sadly, this just makes the Downfall of Numenor more tragic - like a second Fall of mankind.

Durelen - what are these old questions that might be answered by this interpretation?


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<font size="2">Down the sunlit breath of Day's fiery death
He sped from Westerland.</p>Edited by: <A HREF=http://www.barrowdowns.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_profile&u=00000143>Voronwe</A> at: 5/30/01 12:40:45 pm
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Old 05-31-2001, 12:38 AM   #5
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Re: The 'Gift' of men and the Athrabeth

Actually Druelen, the &quot;good explaination&quot; has to be credited to Voronwe - I merely agreed and clapped my hands. This explaination makes &quot;the gift of Eru&quot; much beautiful and easier to understand.

If I remember anything from the time I read the Athrabeth, it was that Eru didn't find men fit to take part in making Arda &quot;unmarred&quot;.

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Old 06-02-2001, 11:06 PM   #6
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Re: The 'Gift' of men and the Athrabeth

Voronwe,
excellent questions &amp; I agree completly w/ your assesment of the Atrhrabeth' stature in the Legendarium. Nowhere else are we taken so far into conversation w/ one of the eldar and Finrod , as the most sympathetic to the edain was perfect.

As to which view, JRRT states in several places that the views of the characters are not nec. the the truth witness his disavowal of the orcs being corrupted elves, which still has several occurences in the text,it represents popular belief , but not the truth.

So I think any conception of the Silm would keep current references as they are in the final versions as given mostly in V, X,XI and UT but leave the Athrabeth in the last appendix slot as JRRT designated [ and CRRT competly failed to do?!] for my own privazte idea on just what would and would not be in a new silm see the thread entitled 'A new silmarillion -proposal and outline [or something like that. It sketches out chapters hints at source texts and poses a few questions.and lists my ideas on appendices.


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Lindil is oft found on posting on the Silmarillion Project at the Barrowdowns and working on a new Elven/Christian discussion board<a href="http://beta.ezboard.com/bosanwekenta" >Osanwe-Kenta</a> 'The dwindling Men of the West would often sit up late into the night, and awaken early before dawn- exchanging lore and wisdom such as they possessed , so that they should not fall back into the mean and low estate of those , who never knew or more sadly still, had indeed rebelled against the Light.' </p>
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Old 06-03-2001, 05:20 PM   #7
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Re: The 'Gift' of men and the Athrabeth

I would like to know where the note &quot;Should be last item in an appendix&quot; was written on that wrapper, that is, does it apply to the entire &quot;Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth&quot; plus the Commentary, or only to the Commentary.

I myself would like to see the Athrabeth inserted into the Quenta Silmarllion, it fits perfectly followng chapter 17, &quot;Of the Coming of Men into the West&quot;, looking back to the coming of Men and their taking service under the Eldar, and looking forward to the breaking of the Siege of Angband which follows immediately in chapter 18, as though Tolkien designed it to fit there.

The &quot;Commentary&quot; on this chapter would then be the last item in one of the Appendices. Tolkien might have been picturing an appendix of similar philosophical material, such as the essay Notes on motives in the Silmarillion.

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Old 06-03-2001, 06:09 PM   #8
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Re: The 'Gift' of men and the Athrabeth

Don't know about where the comment was written. as for putting the athrabeth in the Silmarillion, I would actually be in favor of that, if in the course of a larger canon council it was approved. I just reread the note in X p.329 that speaks of 'it' being the last item in the appendix.
I am tentatively in favor of interpretating 'it' as the commentary and inserting the Athrabeth into the Silm. As i said above this wa my original thought till I read and assumed the newspaper note reffered to the entirety.

I am def. interested in hearing others on this point.


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Lindil is oft found on posting on the Silmarillion Project at the Barrowdowns and working on a new Elven/Christian discussion board<a href="http://beta.ezboard.com/bosanwekenta" >Osanwe-Kenta</a> 'The dwindling Men of the West would often sit up late into the night, and awaken early before dawn- exchanging lore and wisdom such as they possessed , so that they should not fall back into the mean and low estate of those , who never knew or more sadly still, had indeed rebelled against the Light.' </p>
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Old 06-06-2001, 02:39 PM   #9
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The 'Gift' of men and the Athrabeth

I don't think it really matters whether Tolkien's 'it' refers to the whole Athrabeth or only to the commentary. Tolkien was clearly thinking of THE Silmarillion; such a meticulous account has no place in the fictitious &quot;Quenta Silmarillion&quot; of Pengolodh. However, as I understand it, the goal here is not to construct an authoratative Quenta Silmarillion, but to compile everything canonical in one narrative - a goal I heartily agree with. I too would like to see the Athrabeth as part of the main narrative.

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Old 06-14-2001, 09:58 PM   #10
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Re: The 'Gift' of men and the Athrabeth

I agree with Voronwe. I have also heard in other places that the elves thought of mans death as a gift, so now I see why they would say so. It seems a little cruel though, if from the making of the world there was no evil and Melkor had never been or was not evil, that the men would have the choice to go back to Eru while the elves would spend an eternity on earth with the Ainor. That is why, I think, Eru made the elves more wise and strong. It is sad that man got so screwed over all the time, though almost always it was because of themselves.

"Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."</p>
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Old 03-14-2002, 01:38 AM   #11
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I think the Athrabeth would make a fine addition to the appendicies and would be better off there than 'cluttering up' the Silmarilion itself. I think that anything that doesn't contribute to the telling of the story that is the silmarilion, belongs in an appendix.

As far as Voronwe's idea, he may be right and he may not, but without that theory being suggested by tolkien, what place would it have in our Silmarilion?
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Old 03-16-2002, 11:09 AM   #12
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Reading this post I was reminded of a passage in the Silmarillion from Of the Comming of Men into the West.
Quote:
It was not long therefore before Felagund could hold converse with Beor; and while he dwelt with him they spoke much together. But when he questioned him concerning the arising of Men and their journeys, Beor would say little; and indeed he knew little, for the fathers of his people had told few tales of their past and a silence had fallen upon their memory. "A darkness lies behind us and we have turned our backs upon it, and we do not desire to return thither even in thought"... Of Melkor's dealings with Men the Eldar indeed knew nothing, at that time, and learnt but little afterwards; but that a darkness lay upon the hearts of Men (as the shadow of the Kinslaying and the Doom of Mandos lay upon the Noldor) they percieved clearly even in the people of the Elf friends whome they first knew. To corrupt or destroy whatsoever arose new and fair was ever the chief desire of Morgoth...
What could this darkness, which is likened to the Kinslaying, that lies on Man's past be? I think it is very likely that the darkness that lies behind Man is the imposition of death on them by Illuvitar. This corresponds with the story of Eden from the Bible; after the fall of man, man becomes mortal. If I had witnessed or been a part of the fall of mankind, I certainly would not have wanted to share the story with my children in any great detail. Hence the shadow that lies on their past.
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Old 03-18-2002, 10:43 AM   #13
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This darkness is somewhat explained in HoMe X, Morgoth's Ring. There is a story there among the Edain concerning the first fall. It was apparently the belief of some of the Edain that Melkor was responsible for causing them do die, but it seems more likely that it was Iluvatar punishing them for listening to Melkor, as in Christianity.
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Old 07-29-2002, 05:40 PM   #14
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I was just wondering, if you would put also in the revised version, The 'Tale of Adanel'too. To me, that part seems very interesting in how Morgoth deceive the men regarding Eru and made him limit their lifespan.
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Old 07-31-2002, 08:54 AM   #15
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I can't think of any reason not to include the Tale of Adanel. There's nothing in later writings that invalidates it, so I would favor putting it in.
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Old 10-18-2002, 01:42 AM   #16
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I dont have much to say right now, but last night reading in SILM nor the Nth time, I stumpled on this:
Quote:
In those days, moreover, though the Valar knew indeed of the coming of Men that were to be, the Elves as yet knew naught of it; for Manwë had not revealed it to them. Bat Melkor spoke to them in secret of Mortal Men, seeing how the silence of the Valar might be twisted to evil. Little he knew yet concerning Men, for engrossed with his own thought in the Music he had paid small heed to the Third Theme of Ilúvatar; but now the whisper went among the Elves that Manwë held them captive, so that Men might come and supplant them in the kingdoms of Middle-earth, for the Valar saw that they might more easily sway this short-lived and weaker race, defrauding the Elves of the inheritance of Ilúvatar.
Try to put this in regard to what we know of Mannish tradition concerning immortality of men. Comments, anyone?

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Old 10-18-2002, 03:36 AM   #17
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comment would be that for men themselves their immortality was a traditional beleif (known only to wise among them at that), so not necessarily true
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Old 10-18-2002, 04:36 AM   #18
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Very good question Telchar!

Quote:
...but now the whisper went among the Elves that Manwë held them captive, so that Men might come and supplant them in the kingdoms of Middle-earth, for the Valar saw that they might more easily sway this short-lived and weaker race, defrauding the Elves of the inheritance of Ilúvatar
well Melkor was obviously the whisperer to the Elves, and he is already assuming they will be short-lived and weaker, so perhaps their fall was already forseen and woven into the third Theme?
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Old 10-18-2002, 04:57 AM   #19
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Yes - to both of you! Excactly what I thought. I merely brought it to attention because I felt it relevant to take into view. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 10-18-2002, 06:13 AM   #20
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I think it might be otherwise. But this is of only me interpretation: The gift of men from the beginning was to leave Ea and time when they were tired of it. None of the unfallen men had reached that stage before they were corrupted. So they were in their own view immortal. They never had the idea that the parting of soul and flesh was a part of their nature. When they rebelled against Eru he punished them with a short live and a death that came unwonted. And since never before had any of them died they thought death it self was their punishment. But that was not true and might have be a lie of Morgoth. (Don't forget that even the fathers of the three houses came from fallen men that repented.)

In regard to this special question, we have also to think about the time line. The Athrabeth is a round world story and the fall of men had in that version already occurred when Morgoth was in Valinor to teach the Elves about men.

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Old 10-18-2002, 07:40 AM   #21
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Welcome to the Downs, Findegil [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

Interesting theory that of yours, but highly speculative. Yet if we go on, we can assume the very first generation of men was corrupted, so they really had no time at all to get accustomed to their short/long span and develop ideas about their immortality. How would they know anything at all concerning mortality-immortality? For they were fallen before they met elves to campare with. I daresay the idea of their former immortality was developed only after they came to Beleriand, out of suspended envy. Me speculating as well, of course
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Old 10-18-2002, 09:19 AM   #22
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You are right, it is speculative. But what I did was take all that is said in the late sources about the fate of men into account and search for a reasonable theory how it could go together. We can of course go the other way and search for a reason to disbelieve some of sources. Or a combination of both.
All I wanted was to show an alternative solution.
What ever solution we will find is highly speculative. It is something nice to discuss but in respect to the project it must be surly left as an enigma.

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