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Old 01-15-2007, 08:03 AM   #1
Elmo
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The Eye The atrocity of the Akallabęth

I grew sceptical of the Valar and therefore Eru and their supposed 'love' for Men when reading Silmarillion - the abandonment of men in the east for one the Valar could have easily sent a messenger but no they had to leave men defenceless in Melkor's grasp no wonder a lot of them turned evil- but the slaughter of women and children during the end of the Land of the Star made me become full of intense dislike for the Valar with them drinking metaphorical Pińa Coladas on Eldamaar beach in their paradise while men are left slogging it out in the sometimes hell hole of middle earth. The Akallabeth is an atrocity comparable to whatever Melkor, Sauron or Hitler commited and yet they are supposed to be the 'Good' guys. By all mean smite the invading conscript army to your land but what threat were the women and children to the Valar? Its the equivalent of after 9/11 George Bush targeted all the nurseries of Saudi Arabia, even he didn't do that!
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Old 01-15-2007, 08:17 AM   #2
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I am not sure if they really abandoned them. If I remember well, I think I read a bit of the HOME where Melkor first appeared to Men as a great and beautiful lord and deceived them, and Eru later spoke directly to the Men asking them not to listen to Melkor. I am not sure where it is, I am not such a HOME expert. As far as the Valar are concerned, the problem is we aren't given a lot of information on them and the Men in the east, or if any is given, I am not aware of its existence.
One proof that the Valar did not abandon people in the East where Alatar and Pallando who were sent there to help the people. Unfortunately Tolkien indicates they failed in their quest as well.

As far as Numenoreans are concerned I too think the Valar exagerated. They could have allowed the women and children to leave...I can't understand why they didn't. This wasn't just a warning, this was really too much.
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Old 01-15-2007, 09:03 AM   #3
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Off-topic

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Originally Posted by The Might
As far as Numenoreans are concerned I too think the Valar exagerated. They could have allowed the women and children to leave....
I've always failed to understand this (very common) point of view. What had the "normal" Númenórean men done more wrong than the women of the country? Children are a different thing, but raising civilian women over civilian men is just something I don't understand...

edit: Just to make my point clear. I don't think the civilian/innocent women should have been saved any more then civilian/innocent men, but in general I don't think anyone should have been punished that strongly. I'm also against capital punishment....
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Old 01-15-2007, 09:04 AM   #4
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Well, I think you have missed a part of the information mentioned in the Akalabęth. The Valar did not do anything at the approache of Ar-Pharazôn. They laid down there responsibility and commited the reaction to this breaking of a rule set by Iluvatar himself to him. All that followed was not the action of the Valar but of Eru himself.

What the Valar did before was sending warning after warning to the Numenoreans.

What else should they have done?

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Old 01-15-2007, 09:06 AM   #5
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The Eye Ok then

It stills makes it atrocious if Eru did it then and anyway weren'te ALL the men in the invasion force (except the 'Failthful') I also dislike civilian women being held over civilian men and the Valar could still have evacuated the the civvies
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Old 01-15-2007, 09:33 AM   #6
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I also don't think killing women and children would be OK, but I suppose what we have are forgetting is, that possibly 90% of the Númenoreans were really wicked at that time. This would include the women as well (they could very well make sacrifices of their own children to Sauron, for example). And after all, Valar let the Faithful leave. If they acted really ruthlessly as you say, they'd have put the island down no matter if any faithful were there.
TM, you said they missed warning... I think they got enough warnings: if you don't consider their own tradition, then from the Elves, the Faithful ... and this took centuries. Ar-Pharazon was really much then. I think we'll all agree that worshiping Sauron and making bloody sacrifices of other people is really not nice. But we have many warning omens even in the last generation: eagle-like clouds from the west, restless earth beneath the island, lightnings from the skies, and here is the reaction of the Númenoreans to the warning:
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Then some few would repent for a season, but others hardened their hearts, and they shook their fists at heaven, saying: 'The Lords of the West have plotted against us. They strike first. The next blow shall be ours!'
If I exaggerate it a little bit, the Valar were very kind to wait until the last moment, till Ar-Pharazon really attacked Aman. You also have to look at it from the point of Valar, or Eru - you have some world you had a hard work with, but when your own creation turns against you, who have created it for them, believes Sauron that you are just a nonexisting phantom (sorry TP ) and instead worships Melkor as "Lord of All" (when actually he is stuck somewhere in the Void), and finally, wants to attack you (?!?! huh?), that's really much. Destruction of Númenor was not exaggerated punishment in my opinion, for the "evil ones", of course. And as I said, when the Faithful left, there possibly were not too many of those who didn't deserve the punishment. So, I also don't agree that the death of those women and children was O.K., but they surely were not so many - they were not all of the inhabitants of Númenor, there were just few of them, so the portrait is not as terrible as you show it.
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Old 01-15-2007, 09:37 AM   #7
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I believe not one child should die for the sins of their parents... and I'm also opposed to the death penalty
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Old 01-15-2007, 09:41 AM   #8
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I believe not one child should die for the sins of their parents... and I'm also opposed to the death penalty
Yeah, I am as well... but... well, you know, I can't think of any possibly better continuing of the story...
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Old 01-15-2007, 10:07 AM   #9
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Within the context of Tolkien's story, it is incorrect to assume that the women and children were innocent of the crimes against Eru and the Valar for which they are punished, while the men are guilty. Were the women quarantined? Were the children not around? No, all were together in the same disobedience against the Law set down by Eru, and paid the penalty thereof.

"But they didn't do anything!"

... that would be the objection, I believe.

Maybe they did and maybe they didn't, we cannot say based on what we are told; what is implied, though, is that the attitude of the Numenoreans was shared by all. The next generation would have been no better, and probably worse, than the one that received the punishment.
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Old 01-15-2007, 10:26 AM   #10
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Unless I haven't overread something, there was no messenger or whatsoever sent to the first Men. Then again, the Valar only found out about the Elves by chance, so maybe they didn't know about Men before it was too late, because they didn't go to Middle-earth regularly anymore. Later the Valar couldn't have helped Men against Morgoth without helping the Noldor as well. Obviously they weren't particularly good at swallowing their pride.
I think that they didn't intentionally neglect Men, but that it all was just a lot of bad luck and maybe shortcoming of character.


As has been said, the Drowning of Westernesse was not the Valar's deed. I don't see what they could have done either. But it casts an ambiguous light on Eru, I think. Numenor was a gift to the Edain of the first age. Their descendants rebelled against the Valar, so Eru surely has a good right to take it from them again. But he killed everyone on it who didn't have a ship prepared perchance, and that was cruel.
I think we agree that the unfaithful Numenorians deserved punishment. Death? If there is one person who is able to judge that, it is Eru.
If he had let the women and children live (in Numenor or Middle-earth), history would have repeated itself, I'm sure. So, judge each individual and only kill the wicked? Leaves a weird feeling in me.
Maybe judge each individual, withdraw the gifts that the Valar once granted to the Numenoreans from the guilty and banish them from the isle, therefore making them no better than the average Man of Middle-earth? Not sure whether this would have been wise. But maybe Eru just wasn't wise in the moment? Maybe he was just angry about these people who received more wisdom etc. from the Valar than any other Man and still weren't satisfied and turned to evil to have more? Maybe he thought that even the Faithful would, after having multiplied, turn to evil eventually? (if I read the Silm correctly, it was the Valar, not Eru, who helped the Faithful escape)
Whatever the case, the drowning remains a deed that, in my mind, was unjustifiedly cruel and overshot the mark. Was it justified? I don't think so. Is it understandable? Maybe.

Concerning the warnings, I think the reaction of the Numenorians to it shows more of the paranoia of the people than of their actual peril. I doubt even the Valar knew what was to come when they laid down their supremacy.
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Old 01-15-2007, 10:27 AM   #11
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Within the context of Tolkien's story,. . .
I think what lmp means is that there have been a few changes in perspectives in ethics from the Second Age to the Seventh Age. Tolkien's story is set within a mythological past in which it was deemed appropriate for entire races, nations or tribes to share the same fate. Individual, situational ethics weren't yet around then.
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Old 01-15-2007, 10:44 AM   #12
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Cynically speaking, isn't it still the case that whole races (probably translated in modern terms as whole cities or neighbourhoods) suffer the same fate brought down from 'on high' - in modern parlance not from god or the gods but by the armed forces/terrorists/city planners or whoever?

Looking at this from the slightly depressing point of view that Tolkien seems to have held that Eru could indeed do seemingly inexplicable and cruel things, isn't it even more tragic that because of the misdeeds of the bad Numenoreans they also caused the suffering of their innocent wives and children? It was a Tragedy of War.

And incidentally, no, I don't feel comfortable with that notion but it's what happens. Maybe we would cope with it better if we believed there was no Eru and Valar behind it all and it was just a natural event or a result of warfare?

As to whether the wives and kids were evil too, well we don't know. But can't we assume that the children were not, as I'm not sure Tolkien ever shows us children as anything other than innocents? And why would a bad Numenorean naturally pass on 'bad blood'? If 'good blood' can make it all they way through the generations to find its way into Faramir, surely some 'good blood' would have found its way into some of those who drowned too?
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Old 01-15-2007, 10:47 AM   #13
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Once more to that "they didn't care for Men" part.
I'll try to write it shortly and clearly:
1) the Awakening of Men took place when there were enough problems with the Noldor,
2) Valar didn't even know the exact time of their awakening, and as Maca said, it was pure accident that Oromë found the Elves (Valar knew just "the time is slowly coming", but didn't know exact date),
3) and most important, Valar themselves decided not to intervene after their first "failure" - which is what they considered the assault on Utumno and going for the Elves to be. Melkor had by the time of the awakening of Men returned to Middle-earth, and Valar did not want to intervene to the Silmarils cause of Noldor, no other assault on Angband until a messenger from both the First and Secondborn came to assure them that both the Elves and the Men agree with, and request, their help. No other war which would tear land apart (although in the end, it is what happened in Beleriand), no Oromë coming for the Men - and as I said, they didn't know of them - because Valar didn't want to rule with fear (as opposite to Melkor), to force the elves to go to Valinor, to create an image of terrible power so that the elves won't love them as they are but out of fear. This is basically why they considered their behavior at awakening of the Elves as their "failure", and this is why they didn't come for the Men.
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Old 01-15-2007, 11:11 AM   #14
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Miriel was killed and she certainly didn't do anything wrong - her story is especially sad i find...
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Old 01-15-2007, 11:54 AM   #15
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I guess all the pantheons of the world have had their mercifuls and cruel ones, the goodies and the baddies; the bringers of plenty and the bringers of doom and damnation. When reduced to just one God on certain cultures, that One has retained those conflicting characteristics. Just look at Yahweh (Jehova), Allah or even the christian God.

So Eru willing to drown all the Numenorians seems to be nothing new from the higher beings as all the enemies of Islam will perish in the end, the unchristians will face eternal damnation in the Last Judgement, all the people had to drown in Noah's flood and so on. The problem we see arising in here I think, is the protestantic interpretation of the God which partly (but only partly) leaves this other side of the coin behind and wishes to stick to the purely loving and good God. With this presupposition - and trying to see Eru as a christian God-like - we face a dilemma: how could Eru do that? If we stick to the traditional Gods we might answer: easily. But if we try to "modernise" (reads: clinging to the traditon of the enlightenment) our image of God will face these problems.

The interesting question to me follows as I try to think how Tolkien himself thought this. Was he thinking it along the lines of traditional religiousity where it was just right and good that the sins of the fathers were avenged to all in the lineage or did he indeed flirt with protestantism here trying to make the readers feel bad about that kind of judgement by Eru?
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Old 01-15-2007, 12:13 PM   #16
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Miriel was killed and she certainly didn't do anything wrong - her story is especially sad i find...
You're right, it's a very sad story. Still, I don't hold her blameless. She did not resist Ar-Pharazôn and did nothing against the way Númenor went.

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And last of all the mounting wave, green and cold and plumed with foam, climbing over the land, took to its bosom Tar-Míriel the Queen, fairer than silver or ivory or pearls. Too late she strove to ascend the steep ways of the Meneltarma to the holy place; for the waters overtook her, and her cry was lost in the roaring of the wind. ~Akallabęth
I'd say there's a fair amount of double sense in that line.
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Old 01-15-2007, 12:23 PM   #17
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Well seing as we cannot presume to know one man's relationship with God, how can we say for sure that Eru is Tolkien's own view of the real world 'God'? What we can say though is that this is the god he created for his secondary world and we have to work within and understand Eru within those boundaries first and foremost. And Eru is not always 'nice' by a long way. In fact, as he was the one who created Morgoth and it was Morgoth who then created the discordancies in the music that brought evil into the world, and Eru allowed it to hapen, he was not always 'nice' from the beginning.

If he was bringing any other aspects of 'god' into the text then I suggest a good place to start is to look at how that Northern literature dealt with such concepts; it was Tolkien's hope to give this work a Northern air, so that might point as to why Eru is a bit of a thunderer and smiter.

Eru's different because everyone can cop for it, whether good or not. I also don't think Protestantism has an overall 'good' God, as there's plenty of scope in all sects for shrugging your shoulders and saying "well, God works in mysterious ways" when something horrible happens. Another good reason for analysing what Eru does and understanding why he does it from within his own secondary world I think.
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Old 01-15-2007, 01:02 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
[...]how can we say for sure that Eru is Tolkien's own view of the real world 'God'?
Sorry. I may have expressed myself poorly. That was by no means my intent. I meant more that how did Tolkien see his own creation, Eru? What did he wish to say with it?
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In fact, as he was the one who created Morgoth and it was Morgoth who then created the discordancies in the music that brought evil into the world, and Eru allowed it to hapen, he was not always 'nice' from the beginning.
But was Tolkien's Eru an omnipotent all-knowing God like that of christianity who knew it already what his creation would be up to and all that would follow it or was he more a Northern God who did what he deemed best and tried to handle the outcome as best he could? I mean surely one can't blame a God for creating something great that later turns evil if his intentions were good and he knew not all that would come from his creation?
Quote:
I also don't think Protestantism has an overall 'good' God, as there's plenty of scope in all sects for shrugging your shoulders and saying "well, God works in mysterious ways" when something horrible happens.
That's why I said that the protestantic interpretation partly tries to leave that side out...

PS. Funny. It's only now that I find personating Eru as a he a bit uncomfortable... looking like Judaeo-Christian-Islamist Guy here in this discussion. Blessed be the Finninsh language where the pronoun s/he will not imply a gender allowing a God to be more literally abstract.
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Old 01-15-2007, 01:27 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Nogrod
Sorry. I may have expressed myself poorly. That was by no means my intent. I meant more that how did Tolkien see his own creation, Eru? What did he wish to say with it?

But was Tolkien's Eru an omnipotent all-knowing God like that of christianity who knew it already what his creation would be up to and all that would follow it or was he more a Northern God who did what he deemed best and tried to handle the outcome as best he could? I mean surely one can't blame a God for creating something great that later turns evil if his intentions were good and he knew not all that would come from his creation?
I think that's what he's trying to say - that this god (and maybe his God too, but who really knows) works in ways that to humble and mere people can seem cruel. There's plenty of free will, even for the Valar, as Eru seems to sit back mosty and allow the inhabitants of his world to work things out for themselves. Eru only seems to interfere where his creations interfere with some of the basic orderings of life - e.g. Men trying to get to Valinor, whereas Eru has set out another path for Men. It's at once a frightening and thrilling prospect that people and leser gods have so much scope in this world. Maybe it's telling us something about responsibility and taking it for ourselves seeing as Eru sticks his hand in so rarely? That would tie in with character development in LotR and how they all learn things about themselves.

Maybe Eru knew what might happen - he might have had an inkling from Morgoth's discordant tunes at least, but wanted to see how things would play out?

Quote:
That's why I said that the protestantic interpretation partly tries to leave that side out...

PS. Funny. It's only now that I find personating Eru as a he a bit uncomfortable... looking like Judaeo-Christian-Islamist Guy here in this discussion. Blessed be the Finninsh language where the pronoun s/he will not imply a gender allowing a God to be more literally abstract.
'Tis a flamin' minefield, trying to pin down what this and that sect believes, which is why I;d rather go for what we can grasp hold of, i.e. looking at it from the text! And I like the sound of Finnish pronouns...maybe they are important in Tolkien's work as the language inspired him so much?
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Old 01-15-2007, 02:10 PM   #20
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It does seem like an atrocious act.

In fact, Eru having that kind of power all the time and letting Sauran kill and enslave thousands might be construed as an atrocious act...

But, anyway...

If Numenor had become the premiere Empire on Earth; unstoppable by ANYBODY--not Elves, not Sauron himself--maybe not even the Valar?--and had truly turned into an evil empire; if the majority of them carried off slaves to be sacrificed, raped "lesser races wives", tortured men for fun, stole things, burned fields and inflicted misery up and down the coasts of Middle-Earth, littered rampantly, etc...then maybe Eru was just being merciful to the Rest of the people of Middle Earth. Perhaps less people died in the Flood than would have died had the Numenorean Empire continued, um, empiring...? Just a thought?
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Old 01-15-2007, 02:20 PM   #21
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He could have ended the empire without slaughtering the innocents. The children were not born evil. If as written above he had made the Numenoreans normal humans again and they lost their empire they would no longer be able to commit their huge crimes and their would be no need for infaticide.
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Old 01-15-2007, 02:25 PM   #22
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Good point there Břicho, I really had not considered that before.
It could very well be that the destruction of Numenor was a way to save many other people. And perhaps it was also a test made by Eru and the Valar. Those wise enough to fear the Valar and to see and understand the signs that were sent by the Valar were also able to flee and reach Middle-earth, but those who didn't died. Of course some small children died in the event, who can definitely not be blamed for anything, but I guess that Eru judged each one fairly in the end.
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Old 01-15-2007, 02:25 PM   #23
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Yes, very true. I'm only trying to justify it in some way, because it seems it must be justified.
Story doesn't make much sense if Eru is worse than Melkor.
This is a fascinating question.

Well, since men are meant to die anyway, maybe he doesn't look so darkly on Death itself--maybe the mere killing of millions who are just going to "join him" in heaven or wherever isn't such an atrocity to him? It's only an atrocity to those of us who live in the world and have to die.
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Old 01-15-2007, 02:28 PM   #24
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Good point there Břicho, I really had not considered that before.
It could very well be that the destruction of Numenor was a way to save many other people. And perhaps it was also a test made by Eru and the Valar. Those wise enough to fear the Valar and to see and understand the signs that were sent by the Valar were also able to flee and reach Middle-earth, but those who didn't died. Of course some small children died in the event, who can definitely not be blamed for anything, but I guess that Eru judged each one fairly in the end.
Well there were still some innocents who undoubtedly did die, for example the babies, or the Faithful who couldn't escape(like Pharozon's wife, for example.)
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Old 01-15-2007, 03:44 PM   #25
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If mortality is the gift of Eru to the race of men (and hobbits), why is it being viewed here as a punishment or unjust act? That perspective sounds a bit Black Numenorean, eh?
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Old 01-15-2007, 03:59 PM   #26
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If mortality is the gift of Eru to the race of men (and hobbits), why is it being viewed here as a punishment or unjust act? That perspective sounds a bit Black Numenorean, eh?
Hmm, another interesting thing we obviously all forgot. Except Bęthberry! We were all deceived by Morgoth's lies, obviously? I now once again see that it was probably not easy not to believe Morgoth's lies: though pure readers, we have been all deceived.
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Death is their fate, the gift of Ilúvatar, which as Time wears even the Powers shall envy. But Melkor has cast his shadow upon it, and confounded it with darkness, and brought forth evil out of good, and fear out of hope. Yet of old the Valar declared to the Elves in Valinor that Men shall join in the Second Music of the Ainur; whereas Ilúvatar has hot revealed what he purposes for the Elves after the World's end, and Melkor has not discovered it.
In the light of this, the children "just" didn't have the possibility to enjoy the beauty of the Creation... which rose from Ainulindalë... but would that have been something to enjoy, a life in the fear of shadow on an island where people make bloody sacrifices to Morgoth? Not a kind of place to spend my life in.
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Old 01-15-2007, 04:04 PM   #27
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Meh. But wouldn't that mean that all good Men should be completely suicidal nihilists?

OK, seriously, it's always possible that Eru thinks they will be better off turned into Davy Jones' Locker rather than sharing a life of sin with their naughty husbands, and maybe he thinks they'd be better off dead than living and ending up grieving said naughty husbands?

What I think is that Eru had gifted them Numenor which was close to Valinor and it turned out this was a mistake and he had to take it from them. But how could Eru get rid of an entire land mass without also hurting some of the people who lived there? Many must also have died when Beleriand was lost, so it's not like he hadn't done it before.

What's making me laugh (in a sick, twisted fashion) though, is how we keep on trying to justify it when really it was sick. Why are we trying to do that? Tolkien doesn't. He just writes about it.
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Old 01-15-2007, 05:36 PM   #28
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I haven't read the entire thread - I don't have time - but I wanted to suggest something.

I never considered the Valar evil...I never thought that what they did to Numenor as evil...The faithful got away with their wives and kids.

This discussion made me think more about it, though, in what ten or so posts I read. Perhaps it could have been much like Sodom? When God destroyed Sodom he told the one faithful man and his family to leave the city and not to look back. He destroyed Sodom, but he let the faithful escape - but the faithful man's wife looked back and she too was destroyed.

There were warnings given, were there not? And the faithful did get to escape, didn't they? If the women and children didn't leave, wasn't it their own fault? Well, the children were innocent, surely. How many of them do you think would have left their home to go with the remnant of the faithful? Another argument is the kids were too young to make such a choice... What was Eru to do? Let them live until the children were old enough to make their choice? What are the chances that they would make the right ones?

I don't think the Eru or the Valar were evil in this destruction of Numenor. I think it was the case of Sodom - they didn't find enough faithful within the city to spare it.

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P.S. I think capital punishment would solve a lot of our problems...
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Old 01-15-2007, 06:02 PM   #29
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Meh. But wouldn't that mean that all good Men should be completely suicidal nihilists?
The good die young, Lal.
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Old 01-15-2007, 09:06 PM   #30
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What's making me laugh (in a sick, twisted fashion) though, is how we keep on trying to justify it when really it was sick. Why are we trying to do that? Tolkien doesn't. He just writes about it.
Within the context of the story, mind you...., to call 'sick' Eru's retribution against the disobedience and evil to which the Numenoreans had fallen, is to take the side of the disobedient and evil Numenoreans. The reader is of course welcome to identify with any character in any story as s/he sees fit. Some of us identify with Elves, others with Men, some with Eru, some with the Valar; and I suppose some readers might even be willing to identify with Ar Pharazon or Sauron, who, it is certain, would consider Eru's decision to punish them for their wickedness, most deplorable. But that does not make their wickedness any the less deserving of the punishment that Eru, within the context of the story, apparently decides they are worthy of.
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Old 01-16-2007, 12:28 AM   #31
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If mortality is the gift of Eru to the race of men (and hobbits), why is it being viewed here as a punishment or unjust act? That perspective sounds a bit Black Numenorean, eh?
Mortality may not be a punishment or an unjust act in a universe in which the soul lives on after Death; but most mortals would think that it was, especially if they are living in the world with immortals--why them, and not us? I think it's a completely natural reaction.

. It's not as if Eru talks to any of them to comfort them when they are afraid of Death.
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Old 01-16-2007, 02:15 AM   #32
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Within the context of the story, mind you...., to call 'sick' Eru's retribution against the disobedience and evil to which the Numenoreans had fallen, is to take the side of the disobedient and evil Numenoreans. The reader is of course welcome to identify with any character in any story as s/he sees fit. Some of us identify with Elves, others with Men, some with Eru, some with the Valar; and I suppose some readers might even be willing to identify with Ar Pharazon or Sauron, who, it is certain, would consider Eru's decision to punish them for their wickedness, most deplorable. But that does not make their wickedness any the less deserving of the punishment that Eru, within the context of the story, apparently decides they are worthy of.
I agree, in fact you could say...let's put it politely as I can...that this is one of those instances where Eru just gets it over and done with and scitan happens, as they say.

But still, I am sure there are no other instances where children are lumped in with the sins of the fathers, where they are viewed as being likely to carry the same 'evil'; I want to know if there are as this will help square it up. So why kill the innocents? The only way I can get my head around this, even within the context of the secondary world, is to assume that Eru allowed them to die too to underscore the tragedy which resulted from their fathers' wrongdoing. Which is poetic, but still a bit sick.
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Old 01-16-2007, 03:16 AM   #33
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Again I'm a bit off-topic...

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PS. Funny. It's only now that I find personating Eru as a he a bit uncomfortable... looking like Judaeo-Christian-Islamist Guy here in this discussion. Blessed be the Finninsh language where the pronoun s/he will not imply a gender allowing a God to be more literally abstract.
I too find that always a bit difficult, since the -tar ending is feminine in Finnish... (In fact, when I was younger and first acquinted with the Silmarillion, I thought Ilúvatar to be female.) But it helps if you keep in mind that the name Ilúvatar comes from two elements ilúvë "all" and atar "father"...
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Old 01-16-2007, 03:29 AM   #34
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I personally think if I was on Middle Earth I would be right with the 'Black' Numenoreans right up to the point they started the human sacrifice. I think there is much Illuvatar could have done to try and heal the damage Melkor had done on man's view of the 'gift' of death.
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Old 01-16-2007, 04:15 AM   #35
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So why kill the innocents?
I believe that Tolkien himself said something to the effect that the situation in Numenor was not unlike that of the biblical Israel from the Old Testament Bible. Yahweh, as the comparable Eru is there named, commands the Israelites to destory whole nations: men, women, children, beasts, everything. When they obey these commands they are called righteous, for having obeyed; and those who do not obey, or not completely, are named unrighteous. Now, Tolkien didn't have his faithful Numenoreans wreaking death upon the Numenoreans that worshiped Sauron, but the comparisons are there.

The point is that we presume that the children are innocent. It appears, from the text of The Silmarillion, that "the sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the third and fourth generation", seems to hold true. The Noldor have to deal with this, in terms of their oath.
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Old 01-16-2007, 05:28 AM   #36
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I believe that Tolkien himself said something to the effect that the situation in Numenor was not unlike that of the biblical Israel from the Old Testament Bible. Yahweh, as the comparable Eru is there named, commands the Israelites to destory whole nations: men, women, children, beasts, everything. When they obey these commands they are called righteous, for having obeyed; and those who do not obey, or not completely, are named unrighteous. Now, Tolkien didn't have his faithful Numenoreans wreaking death upon the Numenoreans that worshiped Sauron, but the comparisons are there.

The point is that we presume that the children are innocent. It appears, from the text of The Silmarillion, that "the sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the third and fourth generation", seems to hold true. The Noldor have to deal with this, in terms of their oath.
Hmm, but what is carried out in the Old Testament is just Jihad, Holy War, the same thing that some extremists are waging today - as seen by the actions of terrorists, they do not care that they also kill those of their own creed and colour as they are doing it in God's name and are righteous in taking life. However in Tolkien's world it's not people who wreak Jihad on other people, but Eru who does it, which is a very different thing. In fact, when the Noldor rebel, they are in many ways enacting a Jihad, and they are punished for it heavily - and rightly. In the world Tolkien creates, it seems only Eru has the authority to do such things and if mere people attempt them then they are not deemed 'righteous' but are damned.

As for the children being innocent, I still can't find anything to say otherwise than that Tolkien thought children in his secondary world were innocents. And in terms of the sins of the fathers being visited on other generations, you could say that some things come out in character flaws when in adulthood, but likewise they often do not (witness the comparison of Boromir and Faramir).
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Old 01-16-2007, 06:00 AM   #37
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Old 01-16-2007, 07:36 AM   #38
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Mortality may not be a punishment or an unjust act in a universe in which the soul lives on after Death; but most mortals would think that it was, especially if they are living in the world with immortals--why them, and not us? I think it's a completely natural reaction.

. It's not as if Eru talks to any of them to comfort them when they are afraid of Death.
Well, the Numenoreans worked like mad to avoid death but there are several questions to be asked of this state. Do other races of men in Middle-earth fear death? Most don't have close contact with the elves.

The other question has to do with what it is exactly that people fear. Do they fear any possible pain in the cessation of life? Or do they fear the "afterlife", having been inculcated with horrific visions of physical torment in a lake of burning fire? I thought that the afterlife was a complete unknown in Middle-earth rather than a scene of retribution and punishment.
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Old 01-16-2007, 09:10 AM   #39
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Well, the Numenoreans worked like mad to avoid death but there are several questions to be asked of this state. Do other races of men in Middle-earth fear death? Most don't have close contact with the elves.

The other question has to do with what it is exactly that people fear. Do they fear any possible pain in the cessation of life? Or do they fear the "afterlife", having been inculcated with horrific visions of physical torment in a lake of burning fire? I thought that the afterlife was a complete unknown in Middle-earth rather than a scene of retribution and punishment.
It always strikes me as interesting how those who have contact with Elves come out of it with one of two views: they either accept their fate and their 'special' role in Middle-earth or they do all they can to get what the Elves have. Maybe it all stems from understanding or not the burdens of immortality? I often find that in Real Life a lot of those who think immortality would be 'cool' are younger, but those who have lived a bit longer gradually come to an acceptance of death as their fate (or are looking forwards to an eternal nice rest, a cup of tea and a sit down ).

Anyway, yes a lot of people in Middle-earth (most people) have had no contact with Elves, let alone any Ainur, but many of them appear to have come to terms with the prospect of death; they have no knowledge of what the afterlife (or even if there is one) might be like yet they find comfort in their own ways, e.g. the Rohirrim seem to believe they return to their ancestors as seen in what Theoden says about it; and what's even better is he is not disabused of this notion. I like that.
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Old 01-16-2007, 09:16 AM   #40
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Silmaril & To clarify what we are speaking about...

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The other question has to do with what it is exactly that people fear. Do they fear any possible pain in the cessation of life? Or do they fear the "afterlife", having been inculcated with horrific visions of physical torment in a lake of burning fire? I thought that the afterlife was a complete unknown in Middle-earth rather than a scene of retribution and punishment.
If they didn't know, then this would be obviously the well-known "fear of the unknown", which is, as we know, the worst. However, I think that the horrific scenes are just what Morgoth put before the men: if we consider the Day of Doom, which was said to come at the end of times, the Númenoreans wouldn't probably have to be afraid of dying if they were OK, but when they didn't have peace with Valar (and Eru), it is logical that they were afraid, and if there were some gossips from Morgoth about terrific scenes after death, then I quite understand them. However, they were not right because the Powers wished good for them (which they, poor folks, at that time did not know, losing contact with them) - or maybe actually, they might have been right about that now they had something to fear about: at least Ar-Pharazon "buried in the Caves of the Forgotten until the Day of Doom" seems he had much to fear about (or maybe his punishment was enough?)

Okay, back to the original question... I think there is something we need to make clear. Just a little bit of a revision. (Who does not want to waste time or on the other hand who wants to make a mess in the thread by posting something which does not make sense, stop reading here and jump right onto next post.) What is actually the question we are trying to anwer here?

If the question is simply "Why did Eru let the innocent die", then if we consider ourselves in the world of Middle-Earth, then we have probably nothing to say, after all, it is Eru's world, not ours. We just live there because he created us, and let us live our human, elvish, hobbit... lives there, to care of our ships, groves, gardens, whatever we like...
If we consider ourselves outside of the world, as mere watchers, and we consider the story living its own life, we also have nothing to care about. We are just watchers (readers) and the world has a life of its own, once again, we are just "visitors", or even less. I think a serious Tolkien fan will not be content to end simply just with this conclusion

If the question we are trying to solve here is "Is Eru really good and just or is he, perhaps just a little bit, evil", well, that's something more. This question would ultimately mean: is Middle-Earth an ultimately good world, or is it not? Once more I think a serious Tolkien fan will be sure that it is, and Tolkien himself said it many times. (And just look Břicho's one-sentence post above.) I know, I am silly to even mention it, I think to every Tolkien reader it must be obvious.*

So now: is the question we are trying to answer "How is it possible that Eru, being good, did allow the innocent to die?" Lalwendë posted before that it seems we are trying to "justify" Eru's act. How does it go together with the image of someone ultimately good and just that the innocent die? Now you probably await some shocking revelation in which I explain it. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I don't know. But this is what I wanted to say: this is the question which I'd like us to answer on this thread. Eru is ultimately good (statement). Innocent die (statement). How does this go together? Point.

Just a little suggestion at the end: were not the drowned children (with small c) his Children (with big C) as well? Do you think he was not sad when they died? (I think it is not necessary to explain the terms of "loss" and "destruction of many good things" in the context of Middle-Earth) I'm pretty sure he was. So, why did he kill them.

*Note: if anyone thinks otherwise, I think it'd be better to start a new thread for it: "Is Middle-Earth/Eru good?" But since Tolkien says it's good, we probably just have to believe that it is, and now try to think, how is that possible if it doesn't seem to make sense to you.
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