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Old 09-26-2018, 05:47 AM   #1
Woman of Secret Shadow
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: in hollow halls beneath the fells
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White-Hand Did the Eldar eat Dwarves?

"Ha ha, very funny," you must be thinking.

But I'm not joking. I think the Elves may actually have eaten Petty-Dwarves.

I've brought this argument forward before (in a thread about Elven vegetarianism), but I think it merits more discussion.

We have evidence that the Eldar hunted the Petty-Dwarves nearly to extinction:
Originally Posted by The War of the Jewels, Quendi and Eldar, Appendix B. Elvish Names for the Dwarves.
The Eldar did not at first recognize [the Petty Dwarves] as Incarnates, for they seldom caught sight of them in clear light. They only became aware of their existence indeed when they attacked the Eldar by stealth at night, or if they caught them alone in wild places. The Eldar therefore thought that they were a kind of cunning two-legged animals living in caves ... and they hunted them. But after the Eldar had made the aquaintance of the Naugrim, [they] were recognized as a variety of Dwarves and were left alone. There were then few of them surviving.
But is there a way to confirm what they did with them?

I can think of three possible reasons to hunt:
  1. for food
  2. to kill monsters
  3. for sport

In The Hobbit, the Dwarves hear the noise of Thranduil's folk on a "great hunt" (Flies and Spiders) and later smell the roast meats of the Wood-elf feast, so there's proof that Elves did hunt for food.

Oromë - who presumably taught the Eldar to hunt - mainly hunted monsters and evil creatures, and one could argue that the Eldar thought they were simply defending themselves when hunting the Petty-Dwarves. I'm assuming nobody ate the evil creatures (orcs etc) they killed, but is it a different matter when you kill a potentially dangerous animal (which the Elves thought the Petty-Dwarves were) to defend yourself? I'd say it depends. We may not eat wolf, but we (at least us Finns) eat bear. And wolf skins may be used for clothes even if they are not eaten, so this is also a possibility regarding the Petty-Dwarves.

We also know of other Elven hunters - Beleg, Mablung, Celegorm, and Aredhel. The fact that so many are named implies that hunting was a popular Elven pastime, regardless of what they did to the bodies. Celegorm knew some of the languages of birds and beasts, so I take it the Elves had no qualms about killing something that had a consciousness - which they presumably did not know about the Petty-Dwarves, who "had never declared themselves to the Eldar" (ibid.)

There's obviously no written record of the Eldar actually eating the Petty-Dwarves, and I somehow doubt it would have occurred to the Professor, anyway. One of the (great) Dwarves' grievances against the Eldar was that "they had hunted and slain their lesser kin" (ibid.), but there's no mention of consuming their bodies. Then again I don't think the Elves would tell them about it, and chances are that the surviving Petty-Dwarves wouldn't know what happened with the bodies of their hunted companions, either.

When I last brought this up during a meady night at Oxonmoot, somebody proposed that the Elves value life so much as not to take it needlessly. Many people also seem to have the gut feeling that they wouldn't hunt for sport, although I don't think there's definite proof of that. But if this is the case, it seems reasonable to conclude that the Eldar would have eaten and/or skinned the Petty-Dwarves they hunted.

Rest in peace, precious Dwarves.
He bit me, and I was not gentle.
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