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Old 09-26-2018, 05:47 AM   #1
Aganzir
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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:
Quote:
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.
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Old 09-26-2018, 06:08 AM   #2
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The evidence of the passage you quote seems to be that they hunted them because they were dangerous: They only became aware of their existence indeed when they attacked the Eldar by stealth at night. If the Petty-Dwarves were as 'non-civilised' as Tolkien seems to suggest, then they might well have looked basically like cones of hair/fur: long beards and long hair combining together and practically reaching the ground. If something like that started attacking your campsite, you'd certainly hunt it afterwards!

I think there are a few arguments against skinning or eating. For the former, I feel like the first time an elven hunter found hands under all that fur - or clothes! Do we have any reason to think the Petty-Dwarves didn't wear clothes? It seems somewhat foolhardy when you live underground - the jig would have been up. For the latter, while Finns may well eat bear, and I know my mother has eaten crocodile, carnivore meat is generally less eaten. (For one thing, it's a lot easier to get parasites from something that has eaten multiple other animals.) Even assuming the elves did eat carnivores, how common is it to eat cave-dwelling animals? I'm guessing not very.

It's very interesting that Tolkien (/Pengolodh - Quendi and Eldar contains the statement that ' All that has here been said concerning the Elvish names and their origins, and concerning the views of the older loremasters, is derived directly or indirectly from Pengolodh.') uses the word 'animals' rather than 'monsters'. The Silm contains this interesting quote:

Quote:
But as the third age of the captivity of Melkor drew on, the Dwarves became troubled, and they spoke to King Thingol, saying that the Valar had not rooted out utterly the evils of the North, and now the remnant, having long multiplied in the dark, were coming forth once more and roaming far and wide. 'There are fell beasts,' they said, 'in the land east of the mountains, and your ancient kindred that dwell there are flying from the plains to the hills.'

And ere long the evil creatures came even to Beleriand, over passes in the mountains, or up from the south through the dark forests. Wolves there were, or creatures that walked in wolf-shapes, and other fell beings of shadow; and among them were the Orcs, who afterwards wrought ruin in Beleriand: but they were yet few and wary, and did but smell out the ways of the land, awaiting the return of their lord. Whence they came, or what they were, the Elves knew not then, thinking them perhaps to be Avari who had become evil and savage in the wild; in which they guessed all too near, it is said.
At the time the elves encountered the Petty-Dwarves, then, they had never seen Orcs, or any creatures of the Enemy. As far as they knew, the only Incarnates were themselves, the Avari, and the Valar and Maiar (and maybe the Ents). The notion of a thinking being that didn't look pretty much like then was completely outside their experience, which is why it took them so long to catch on.

But they'd still surely have noticed the clothes, right?

hS
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Old 09-26-2018, 01:00 PM   #3
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Now this is a nice, meaty topic.

I don't really have anything to add to what I said in the earlier thread Agan referenced, however...

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Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
But they'd still surely have noticed the clothes, right?
One would think! Unless the Petty-dwarves...no....surely they did wear clothes!

Could the clothing of the early ones though have been so rudimentary, maybe just unadorned animal skins, that the Elves would just attack first? And the beards so wild and unkempt no facial details were apparent?
I think that would support a "no eat" argument though: the Elves killed them for safety reasons and let them lie, with no close scrutiny.
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Old 09-26-2018, 02:01 PM   #4
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Question

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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
Could the clothing of the early ones though have been so rudimentary, maybe just unadorned animal skins, that the Elves would just attack first? And the beards so wild and unkempt no facial details were apparent?
I think that would support a "no eat" argument though: the Elves killed them for safety reasons and let them lie, with no close scrutiny.
Even as much as I agree with the general reasoning here that the Elves probably killed for safety reasons, I'm wondering about "let them lie," as Inziladun puts it. It doesn't seem very Elven, for lack of a better word, to leave good-sized carcasses to rot--especially since killing for apparent defence probably indicates killing fairly close to dwelling places. Granted, the Elves probably have fewer sickness-related concerns about rotting corpses than Men, but I don't see it as being aesthetically likely even of the darkest of Avari to leave corpses to stink up the environment close to home.

I suppose it's possible that the Elves might have dug graves and hurriedly dumped the Petty-Dwarven corpses in without examining them, but we're either dealing with spectacularly unlovely Dwarves or with spectacularly inobservant (squeamish?) Elves if the idea that the Petty-Dwarves were beasts wasn't quickly disproven.

Indeed, it almost makes more sense if you accept an early date for the creation of Orks--i.e. before the fall of Utumno. Even if Orks hadn't really been seen by the Eldar in Beleriand and might only belong to murky legends from Cuivienen, the idea of inhuman (inelven?) roughly human-shaped beasts as a perversion to be shot on sight would fit well.
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Old 09-26-2018, 04:41 PM   #5
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Yes, the Elves did indeed eat petty-Dwarves, which is where the term "Petit Fours" was derived (Petit = Petty, Fours being the dwarves' height in feet). And after all, Petit Fours are an appetizer, and thus would be the original "finger food".
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Old 09-27-2018, 10:39 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
One would think! Unless the Petty-dwarves...no....surely they did wear clothes!
Or Gandalf isn't the only one uncloaked?



I think that safety / monster hunting was the predominant motivation for hunting the Petty-Dwarves; that is not to say we know what Elves did with them after killing. I picture their appearance as a sort of raccoon infestation that has to be cleared away if you don't want your settlement perpetually harassed, even if raccoons can be cute and everything. But what to do with the bodies? Is it possible the Elves haven't seen that many dead bodies? Would the dwarves try to rescue the bodies of their fallen comrades to prevent the Elves getting them?
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Old 09-27-2018, 02:58 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Aganzir View Post
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.
That depends on the tribe of elves. The Noldor were known for slaughtering even their own kind when it suited their objectives.

Quote:
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.
I would go even further than saying there isn't proof, and simply disagree.

Hunting "for sport" can be a subjective term, too. There was always some degree of "sport" in hunting, even when it was done to put food on the table (deer, boar, pheasant, et al) in the age before supermarkets and industrial farms.

What we know about the Sons of Feanor, for example, allows us to infer several things.

We know that Celegorm, Amrod, and Amras were considered great hunters:
Quote:
and the youngest Amrod and Amras, who were twin brothers, alike in mood and face. In later days they were great hunters in the woods of Middle-earth; and a hunter also was Celegorm, who in Valinor was a friend of Oromë, and often followed the Vala's horn.
And we know that Celegorm was such a good hunter that Orome, himself, gave him Huan as a gift.

We also know that the Sons of Feanor were monarchs in their own rights, ruling the lands in the north of Beleriand. These weren't monarchs of subsistence-level, hunter-gatherer, skin-wearing tribes, either; they were powerful, with steel (or better) weapons, armor, and armies at their command.

Being monarchs of realms which had the capability of fielding armies with the latest and greatest in weaponry, they could, therefore, have gotten meat upon their tables simply by decree. Yet, instead of sitting back and living the good life of being waited upon, they chose to hunt (for "sport", one could say), and received great renown for their prowess.
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Old 09-27-2018, 03:12 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
Now this is a nice, meaty topic.
Yes, weren't we discussing here, in the past... perhaps several times... the common ancestry between elves and orcs?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6PkDHuaXi8

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Old 09-28-2018, 02:13 PM   #9
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Well, it may not be a coincidence that Tad-dail is so similar to Tarka Dal. Best be careful what you eat at a Noldorin barbeque.

Although it's not expressly denied in any text, this idea of the Noldor eating dwarves feels wrong to me. I think that it's suggested by the word hunt, which Tolkien uses fairly regularly to describe chasing down enemies. For example, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas become the Three Hunters when chasing Uglúk's merry band, but I don't recall them toasting up Uruk burgers on the edge of Fangorn.

Huinesoron has identified the possibility of either clothing or hands identifying the quarry as something more than an animal, and it would seem to me that a butcher gets a fairly close look at the kill. Enough at least to constitute catching sight of it in a clear light. Anything left lying dead in the wilderness will be eaten very quickly (nature tidies up well), so I doubt that abandoned bodies would constitute much of a health risk. Also I'm by no means convinced that if the hunting itself can become widely known among the Dwarves, feasting on the corpses can be kept a secret. Even Mîm has no record of it in his litany of grievances, yet it seems that the hunts are common knowledge. Who would need to be kept in the dark anyway? These were mere cunning animals after all: who hides their bacon from a pig?

All this is conjecture, though. To be honest, dark though he could be when the mood took him, Elves eating Dwarves doesn't sound much like Tolkien. He called the Noldor Gnomes for years to emphasise their wisdom, and where they fall into evil he portrays it as tragic. Cannibalism, even the eating of other rational beings, is something he assigns to Gollum and Orcs, and has Saruman ascribe to Wormtongue. It's something bestial, sub rather than superhuman, not consistent with his apparent view of the Eldar. While it might have been as unknowing as Túrin's incest, something tells me that this idea is one so serious that he would have done something with it had it occurred to him.
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Old 10-10-2018, 11:06 AM   #10
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They likely hunted them both in response to attacks and for sport, not food.
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Old 10-10-2018, 04:14 PM   #11
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Maybe it's also notable that when Turin's band of outlaws captured Mim the Petty-dwarf, it was noted that Mim "bit like a beast". Androg marked Mim as either an Orc or something akin, despite being close enough to have been himself bitten by him. Turin spared Mim, noting the beard and recognizing him as a Dwarf, though it's a fair certainty the outlaws would have killed him without a second thought.
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Old 10-11-2018, 01:18 PM   #12
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Speaking of Mim, checking in Children of Hurin I find that Khim took an arrow to the chest, and yet still managed to make it the rest of the way home (a full day's journey for Turin's company), and live through to the following evening. Dwarves, even Petty-Dwarves, are hardy folk, and the arrows of Elves are unlikely to bring them down where they can be examined closely.

Unrelatedly, I note that one reason the elves so strongly rejected Petty-Dwarf personhood is probably those beards: Elves as young as they were didn't grow them, so 'hair on the face' wasn't something they knew a person could have.

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Old 10-11-2018, 03:14 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
Unrelatedly, I note that one reason the elves so strongly rejected Petty-Dwarf personhood is probably those beards: Elves as young as they were didn't grow them, so 'hair on the face' wasn't something they knew a person could have.

hS
I thought Cirdan had a beard (?). Though it was probably less glorious and manly than mine. One would have to go to Erebor or the Iron Hills to find one to match.
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Old 10-12-2018, 05:13 AM   #14
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I thought Cirdan had a beard (?). Though it was probably less glorious and manly than mine. One would have to go to Erebor or the Iron Hills to find one to match.
Círdan's beard seems to be a special case among the Elves. The possible reasons for its existence notwithstanding, perhaps it was a relatively recent adornment for him (ie, post Second Age or so). First Age Círdan could have been beardless.
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Old 10-12-2018, 07:00 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
Círdan's beard seems to be a special case among the Elves. The possible reasons for its existence notwithstanding, perhaps it was a relatively recent adornment for him (ie, post Second Age or so). First Age Círdan could have been beardless.
The earliest confirmed beard is Mahtan's, who had one before the death of the Trees. If you take Tolkien's weirder writings into account, this grew early in his second stage of life (out of three), and was highly unusual; Cirdan's was an old-age third-stage beard. Tolkien Gateway speculates that the first stage was childhood and adolescence, ending at age 100; that means beards could have been seen on Elves hundreds of (what would later be) Years of the Sun before they left Cuivienen. But I'd hate to lay money on it.

Delving deep into speculation: Tinfang Gelion (AKA Tinfang Warble) appears in the Lay of Leithian, pegged as one of the three greatest musicians of the elves (my pet theory is that he was actually the composer of the Lay, and name-dropped himself into it). His name means 'Spark-beard', and the 'Gelion' suffix suggests he was a native of the lands beyond Gelion - in other words, one of the Nandor of Ossiriand. If his beard was an actual beard, he was either a very elderly musician (and the poem does say 'who STILL the moon/enchants on summer nights of June'), or he was another early-beard-grower.

One final stab in the dark: 'tin-' means 'small star/spark'. It's not a word you'd use to describe a colour, so I wonder whether 'Tinfang' means something like 'star-spangled beard' - in other words, a salt-and-pepper colouring. Given that we've never heard of elves with multicoloured hair (thank the stars!), that would suggest that Tinfang was old, and that his beard appeared even as his hair was turning silver-grey.

hS
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Old 10-13-2018, 05:10 AM   #16
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Elves eating Dwarves doesn't sound much like Tolkien. He called the Noldor Gnomes for years to emphasise their wisdom, and where they fall into evil he portrays it as tragic. Cannibalism, even the eating of other rational beings, is something he assigns to Gollum and Orcs, and has Saruman ascribe to Wormtongue. It's something bestial, sub rather than superhuman, not consistent with his apparent view of the Eldar. While it might have been as unknowing as Túrin's incest, something tells me that this idea is one so serious that he would have done something with it had it occurred to him.
I agree. It doesn't seem like something he'd have just forgotten to mention.
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